Category Archives: Environmental & Eco Issues

The Harvest: How Climate Change Affects Where Wine Grapes Grow

With climate change constantly in the news, many people often ask about its effects on various wine growing regions around the world. While the extent and cause of the change in the climate is unclear, a shift in average temperatures and seasons has had an impact on areas that have traditionally been regarded as established growing regions. In fact, True Fabrications carries many essential books on the topic.

According to an article in USA Today, average temperatures are expected to be 2 to 4 degrees higher than they were in the 1970s. No matter the cause of such increases, the effects on many wine regions would be drastic. A temperature that is constantly warmer by 2 to 4 degrees would not only impact day to day growth, but also the push harvest to an earlier date. An article from Wired.com featuring the subject says the increase in temperature would “eliminate wine-grape production in many areas of the United States.” In America, areas like California’s famous Napa Valley and centuries-old wine growing regions overseas like those in Southern Europe would be dramatically altered and possibly eliminated.

However, this new change in weather would also open the door for other areas around the world to take up grape growing. Locations that have been too wet and cold in the past may become the new garden states for wine growing. Areas like Southern England, the Willamette Valley, Washington’s Puget Sound and New York’s Finger Lakes area, are a few of the places that have expanded in recent years. While many of these areas have already been established as great grape growing areas, their popularity will only continue to increase should the global climate continue to shift.

Image Courtesy: Washington’s Wine Country Regions, from www.washingtonwine.org/explore

Journey from Grape to Glass: Guide to How Wine is Made

As food and drink is made more convenient, we often get further and further away from knowing where our food comes from and how it is made. In a world where salads come ready in bags, meat is deboned and ready to cook, and bread is bagged, pre-sliced and ready to serve, the origins of our food and the processes used to make it can become a mystery to the average consumer. True Fabrications is a company that focuses on wine tools, gift bags and entertaining items so we thought we would go over a little “Wine Making 101” with our fans!

Most wine drinkers know that their wine comes from grapes grown in vineyards. But, what happens to take grapes from the vine to your glass? Knowing the steps that go into making wine is important. The differing processes that go into wine production are often what give a wine its distinguishing characteristics. This will help you identify wine traits that you like. After that, you can use this knowledge to make educated buying decisions for your future wine purchases.

First, as grapes grow in the vineyard, the winemaker keeps close watch on his/her grapes by testing the flavor texture and sugar levels. Once it has been decided that the grapes are ready, they are harvested as quickly as possible. The weather and harvest date ultimately affect the quality and characteristics of the wine. This can often explain variations from vintage to vintage. Grapes are then carted away to either an onsite or off site location where they are crushed. This is where the process changes for white and red wine. The skins and seeds stay with the wine when red wine is made. The skins and seeds are removed for the production of white wine.

Wine Grapes | True Fabrications

Next, the recently crushed grapes are transferred to fermenting tanks (often made of stainless steel). After yeast is added, fermentation begins giving off alcohol as a bi-product. The next step after fermentation is often the transfer back into oak barrels. The amount of time spent in the barrels is up to the winemaker. The time in the barrels, combined with the age of the barrels, will contribute to the distinct characteristics of the wine. Knowing whether or not you enjoy oak flavor in your wine can help guide you towards wine with less, more, or no oak at all. While not all wines are put in oak, the time wine stored and the way it is stored, ultimately affects what arrives in your glass.

Wine Cellar | True Fabrications

Knowing how wine is made is important because it will help you find more wines to enjoy without having to try your way through styles and varieties that you are less fond of. Salud!

Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Electronic Checks Can Make Your Business Greener

As a company who ships all over the country, we’ve taken notice of the large amount of paper, shipping fees and packaging materials that go into making our company work. Recently, we at True Fabrications decided to change certain practices in our business to make our company more environmentally friendly. From changing all of our lights to energy saving bulbs in both the warehouse and office, and switching our shipping filler from plastics to recycled paper, we’re trying to do our part by “going green”.

We now invite and encourage all of our customers to pay for their orders via e-checks. Did you know that for every invoice True Fabrications collects, roughly four pieces of mail have to be sent? (That’s a lot of paper!). That doesn’t even include the postage you send if you wish to pay by normal check. Paying by e-check reduces the amount of paper used in our business by making these transactions digital. Also, the time and resources saved allows us to pass back savings to the most important part of our business, you.

E-check is a completely acceptable and fully operational system for paying your bill. You don’t need to purchase or download any new systems or software. Simply ask your True Fabrications sales rep about e-checks and we will take care of the rest. The ease of e-checking combined with the fact that postage rates just went up again, make e-checks the less expensive (no postage), less time consuming (no trip to the post office) and environmentally friendly (no paper!) option.

E-checks function exactly like a normal check. By corresponding to an individual check number, money is drawn straight from your checking account. But, this is only done once you give permission to our sales staff. This step is to insure your confidence in the safety of our e-check system. E-check is equally safe when compared to traditional payment methods. The only difference in the payment process is the lack of a physical check.

The ease of e-checks and the savings we can send your way should be motivation enough to make the switch. But if that’s not enough, take into consideration the ease of digital checking coupled with your ability to cut down on paper; saving money, and helping us accomplish our company goal of going green while still offering our best price guarantee.

New Natural Packaging in the Wine Industry

Dear Retailers,

You must know the increasing popularity and organics.  Wherever you look these days, almost every kind of food can be found in an organic option.  Part of a larger going green trend, organic has even gone outside of food and moved into clothing, cosmetics and product packaging, just to name a few. While organic may be the natural option, anyone who has been to the organic section of a store knows organic products come with a heavy price tag.

However, the one industry organic prices have not followed this trend is the wine industry. Believe it or not, certain studies have shown that wines labeled organic actually sell for less. At the same time, organic certified bottles that are not labeled as organic actually sell for more than their standard non-organic production equivalents. Why is this happening you ask? Check out this article for the full story, its quite interesting.


Do you offer green, organic or sustainable products in your store? Sustainable products are the latest trend to really take over the market. From home appliances that use less water and electricity, to reusable shopping bags, companies everywhere are seeing new markets open up in the rapidly growing field of sustainable and natural products. While they’re sometimes more expensive, green products are good for our ever growing planet and make customers feel good when they make purchases. Empowering people to make a difference through a sustainable product line is a great way to create a loyal customer base. People like to feel they can make a difference, and something as small as natural packaging can give them the opportunity.

Because of this, True Fabrications decided to take some of our best selling products, and a few new items, and package them in our own natural packaging.  Our new natural packaging is made from 100% recycled kraft paper, printed with soy ink, and securely fastened with Raffia ties. This packaging is environmentally friendly and a great way to offer the same True Fabrications products but with a  green option for your customers. 

Creative Cork Ideas and Accessories

Dear Retailers,
How many times have you opened a bottle of wine either in your store or on your own time and not known what to do with the cork? With 784 Million gallons of wine consumed in the US last year alone, there are a lot of corks to go around. What are we to do with all the removed corks?

A number of companies both large and small have created cork recycling programs. Even larger stores like Whole Foods have started their own recycling stands. Recycling wine corks not only reuses a rare wood, but can also be used as an incentive program in your store. Consider creating a program where customers can return a certain number of corks to your store (maybe 24), and you provide a discount on their next purchase in return.

While wine corks have been a popular craft material for quite some time, reusing wine corks for both utility purposes and decoration is growing more common. From Trivets for hot pans, to furniture and flooring, cork is being used in more places. True Fabrications would like to introduce their new cork holders for the summer season. Now you can you use your old corks as a great decorative piece on tables and bars.

Cheers,
True Fabrications

Recyclable and Reusable Wine Products

Dear Retailers,

To combat the ever increasing use of raw materials and the subsequent rise in prices for wine, one group in California is taking a page out of history. Returning to days past when milk bottles were collected, cleaned and reused, Wine Bottle Renew in Sonoma is trying to take the same approach by sanitizing and reusing wine bottles. The reuse of bottles is already practiced in other countries around the world. Both Canada and Denmark, among others, have adopted the process for their beer industries. For more on this story, see the following article.

We at True Fabrications have found recycled products made from wine barrels and wine bottles to be extremely popular.  Our line of glassware made from recycled wine bottles (including a wine glass, beer glass, and tumbler) are a fantastic opportunity to cross sell with organic wines.  True Fabrications also has an exquisite line of handmade  recycled wine barrels products including serving plates, cheeseboards, candelabras, wine racks, and even our newest dog bed!

As recycling and reusing items becomes more fashionable, businesses have found great success in carrying recycled or reused products. Whether you’re making something new out of recycled material, or rebuilding something out of an old product, recycled items are an easily marketable line of products that every store should take advantage of. From lower prices, to environmental benefits, we think recycled and reused products are great for the retail floor.

Cheers,

True Fabrications.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – How Retailers Can Be Green

April 15, 2010 by Nicole Reyhle

In the spirit of Earth Day, retailers who have not caught onto the trend of being “green” should consider what they can do to get in the game. But rather than look at their actions as a trend that will come and go, they should instead make these changes with the goal of permanently implementing them.

Some easy changes that will not only help the environment but save you money in the long run include:

1. Encourage reusable shopping bags. This saves you money by not having to buy plastic / paper bags as often. In addition, if you sell reusable bags at your store you can make money. Some additional ideas, including suggested reusable bags to sell, can be found here – http://retailminded.com/blog/2010/03/reusable-shopping-bags/.

2. Get rid of all your paper and plastic utensils, plates and napkins. Instead use regular glasses, plates and silverware. Although you may need water to clean these, it is better than plastic sitting in landfills FOREVER.

3. Use eco-friendly cleaning products.There are great green products that clean everything from counter surfaces to floors to bathrooms. One suggested line of eco-friendly products is Mrs. Meyer’s, www.MrsMeyers.com.

4. Print papers only when necessary and if possible, double sided. This includes receipts for your customers. Before you hit print on any receipt, ask your customer if they need it or possibly they would prefer you to email it to them. When you do need to print something, use both sides of the paper when possible.

5. Go digital when it comes to placing orders, tracking inventory and doing other business chores. From banking to faxing to filing invoices, you can do this all through your computer. You’ll save money in ink and paper – plus you will help save the environment.

6. Use re-chargable batteries. Office supply stores often have collection centers for old batteries, which can be recycled. Switch to re-chargable ones to help eliminate additional waste.

7. Use lighting as necessary and switch to energy conscious light choices. Compact fluorescent bulbs and low energy lighting are a great solution to save energy and save dollars. Use timers to turn lights off when they aren’t needed so that your busy day doesn’t have t be interrupted.

8. Try and eliminate waste of any sort. This may seem like a hefty challenge, but if you think about what you are tossing out and how it may be used again, this helps. Packagaing materials are great examples of what can be re-used. Even plastic silverware can have an extended life span if you keep them clean.

9. Use second hand products for display and store merchandising. Stores that are closing are always looking to sell off their fixtures. Merchandising accessories can be found nearly anywhere, so consider shopping garage sales or even your own basement. Be creative and remember to re-use, re-use, re-use.

10. Donate or recycle old computers and other technology based equipment. To find out more on how you can do this specific to your location, visit http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm.

If you have to think selfishly to get in the act, remember that you will save money in the long term by making these changes now. Ideally, though, you will think about the impact that these choices can make on our environment – and how by conserving, you will likely keep costs down so that consumers can still afford to shop!

Wine on Tap

Dear Retailers,

I went into my first wine bar recently and asked for a glass of wine.  The bartender then turned around and from a tap, poured me a great glass.  Yes, I said it, from a tap.  When I asked the bartender if it’s coming from a bottle of wine, he further shocked me by telling me its coming from a keg of wine.  He showed me the system and it works almost exactly like beer on tap except it uses nitrogen to push the wine out instead of carbon dioxide in beer taps.  That was the first time I had ever seen a wine tap and once I hopped onto the internet, I noticed that it seems to be a growing trend.
High end restaurants and wine bars are taking to the concept of wine on tap.   We posted about this concept in 2009 but this is the first time I have seen it in use.  You can go back and read an article from the NY Times here which brings up all the benefits of the system.  As the article points out, it not only successfully preserves the wine, but with a keg system, it does prevent unnecessary waste created through bottles in a restaurant/bar setting.  Preservation of bottles has always come in all shapes and in sizes from vacuum pumps to spray bottles.   So the fact that it preserves and reduces waste is not what strikes me as interesting.  Although I assume if you go through lots of bottles of wine, this would be a great space, time, and money saver for you.

What’s more interesting is that if this concept catches on, it might change the way I order wine in bars.  As an simple example, I typically think of beer on tap and beer in bottles as slightly different.   For some reason, I enjoy tap beer more when I’m in a bar setting.   I always perceive tap beer as colder, fresher, and just tasting better.   I asked a few friends and they agree with that.  Tap beer just feels more refreshing in the end when compared to the same beer cold out of a bottle.

Just a thought, but when offered a wine pour from a bottle or from a tap, do you think people will begin creating distinctions?   Do customers feel a little weary when getting poured a glass from an already open bottle of wine?

Cheers,

True Fabrications

Self-Service Wine?

Dear Retailers,
You should definitely read this article on talking about self service wine stations in French grocery stores. Much like water filling stations in U.S. grocery stores, the self-service station allows for reusable containers to be filled by the shopper. Do you think this idea of self-service and personal containers could work in the U.S.?

The benefits of a machine like this are clear. Wine can be packaged for less money (no bottles and only one large container has to be shipped). By using less packaging and reusing personal bottles, this device could be marketed as good for the environment and better value for consumers.  This would make wine far less cost prohibitive. The availability of inexpensive wine might introduce more people to the joys of wine that would have seen it as too expensive, prior to the self-serve tanks.

I’m not sure if a device like this really could succeed in U.S. stores.  Americans like variety as is obvious with the number of wineries now offering their own vintages. These machines are limited in selection and likely quality. At the same time, a specialized, smaller store might be able to put this into use (think Trader Joe’s and two buck chuck). But, with all the varying laws and restrictions from state to state, this would take a long time to hit the stores. 

Whether you think its a silly gimmick or the way of the future, we would be curious to know what you think as a retailer.  Would you put this in your store?Cheers!
True Fabrications

 

Bring Your Customers Back for More

A few weeks ago, we spoke a little about how much we love corks. The article of the week today shows how a store offers a cork recylce program that allows customers to bring back corks that in turn helps the environment and generates funds for the local community.
What is equally important here about this cork recylce program is that it offers a great opportunity for a retailer to bring customers back to their stores. We all know how important foot traffic is in a retail environment and special events, promotions, and clever marketing ideas are a great way to increase revenue by increasing foot traffic.

Over the years, we have heard many brilliant ideas that connect your customers back to your stores. Have you ever thought of ways to bring customers back after purchasing a product? For instance, one customer from years back used to use sports as a way to bring customers back in. During March Madness, he would set up brackets for his customers to come by to fill out, offering the winner a free bottle of wine. Do you have customers that like to create art projects with wine bottles or corks? Have a day where they can all come and show them off in your stores. One of the best ideas we heard of was during Earth Day, a retailer offered to donate 5% of revenues to an environmental cause that his customers voted for prior to the event. Once you talk to your customers, you can get a sense of what makes them unique and generate a marketing campaign around that. Your retail store can serve not only as a great place to purchase wine, but to bring the community together for causes they care about or just to have a good time.

Cheers!