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Idaho: Winery’s refillable bottles ramp sales, reduce waste

on 07/03/11 at 1:45 pm


Steve and Julie Meyer came up with a business plan that was so good they simply had to bottle it. About two years ago, the owners of Pend d’Oreille Winery in downtown Sandpoint devised a refill program for 1.5 liter bottles of their already popular Bistro Rouge red wine blend. They expected a limited response to a product offering whose primary intent was to keep glass out of the landfill.

With that in mind, the couple produced a first run of 150 bottles — a rollout that became an immediate sellout. When they followed with subsequent runs of 300 and then 600 bottles, customer reaction was the same.

Today, refillable bottles of Bistro Rouge represent 10 percent of the winery’s direct sales. When combined with sales of Bistro Rouge at the retail level, the house red blend now accounts for about one-third of total direct revenues.

“From a business standpoint, it has been a nice surprise to see a new product get that kind of traction,” Steve Meyer said.

For more than five years, Pend d’Oreille Winery has racked up platinum, gold and silver awards for its reserve wines — sometimes sweeping the top three medal categories — in events sponsored by the Beverage Tasting Institute, the Jefferson Cup Invitational and the San Francisco International Wine Competition, as well as regional competitions held in the Tri-Cities, Boise and Post Falls.

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