Innovation and low cost models


Crushpad, Michael Brill’s custom microcrush winery, recognizes that most people buy wines recommended to them by critics, wine experts, retailers, friends and even wineries. Therefore it started to offer samples of wines in TinyBottles, 50- and 100ml bottles at as little as 10% of the cost of a full bottle, to make it more practical for wineries to give customers a taste.


Brill, whose business is based in San Francisco with outposts in Napa and Bordeaux, points out the obvious: Boutique wineries are having a tough time. “I expect to see hundreds of boutique brands disappear in the next year or so,” he warns


The latest innovation from custom winemaking facility Crushpad is a new way to get their boutique wines into more hands. Their new TinyBottles come in sets of four, letting potential buyers taste several different wines for a LOWER COST, hopefully attracting those who might balk at spending $50 or more for an unfamiliar wine.

The new tasting kits are available on the site BrixR.com, a website that also includes videos and recommendations and sells wines from the various small vineyards. On Brixr a four bottle tasting pack sells for $29.95.

The bottles were developed for Crushpad customers but  Crushpad could also use the system for other wines include barrel samples or imports. Other applications include online tasting, retail or restaurant samples, in-flight wine tastings or review samples.

Crushpad can take wine from existing bottles or in bulk — even barrel samples or imports — and handles label modification and COLA approval as part of a package. Right now, it costs about $2.50 per bottle, but he expects this to drop by half during the next year, as volume builds. Shipping is typically $6 by UPS envelope

The wine can be offered in two-, four- or six-packs, allowing a winery to let wine club members and others taste before buying, or even try barrel samples for futures. The TinyBottles can be used for online, directed tastings. Some distributors are even considering them for retail and restaurant sampling; the present practice of opening 750ml bottles can be very wasteful. Airlines are also looking at them for in-flight wine tasting.

Magazines could sell packs of Top 10s to pair with their articles. Wineries also are looking at them to expand their samples for bloggers and others, though Brill acknowledges that the top reviewers will continue to want 750ml bottles. Brill emphasizes that the goal of the program is to help his customers who sell their wines through Crushpad Commerce, but he thinks the TinyBottles will be very popular.

Now that Crushpad has impletemented the use of Tiny bottles, a new company Tasting Room- has also recently unveiled their sample-sized wine bottle tasting kits. While Crushpad’s bottles are straight tubes the Tasting Room ones are mini wine bottles.

TastingRoom’s founder, Tim Bucher, says his format better preserves the wine and is more popular with consumers. His company spent a year developing the new, patent-pending T.A.S.T.E. Technology (Total Anaerobic Sample Transfer Environment) which preserves wine integrity. In this process wine is transferred from larger bottles into smaller bottles in a sealed, zero-oxygen chamber. It is anticipated that many other companies will follow this LOW COST model to not lose out on sales.

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