Willamette Valley Vineyards uncorks 'bio-cask'
By Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Bernau with the bio-casks
Willamette Valley Vineyards, one of the state's first carbon-neutral wineries, announced this week it launched the first restaurant partnership to serve its wine from stainless steel casks designed to keep the equivalent of 26 bottles at a time fresh for by-the-glass pours.
El Gaucho in Portland, a property of Mackay Restaurants, is featuring two wines served by the glass using a newly developed cask tap system.
"The biggest carbon footprint any beverage company creates is in its packaging and its delivery to the customer," said Jim Bernau, Willamette Valley Vineyards president. "That's what we need to tackle as an industry."
Bernau's contribution to the carbon problem is what he calls the Bio-Cask, a sixth-of-a-keg-sized cask manufactured by Pennsylvania-based Geemacher LLC, a supplier to the craft beer industry.
After six months of testing, Willamette Valley Vineyards developed an argon gas-enabled dispensing system that wouldn't interfere with the wine's delicate taste.
"High class pinot noir is very sensitive," Bernau said. "It will tell you if it's been mistreated."
Through a process of trial and error, Willamette Valley found a way to store and pour its 2008 pinot noir — wine that sells for $35 per bottle at the vineyard — using a bulk system that eliminates the waste and transportation cost of bottles.
"This is an exciting development because it drives down the cost of wine for everybody involved," said Chad Mackay, president and CEO of Mackay Restaurants, in a press release.
El Gaucho in Portland is offering the Willamette Valley pinot for $14 per glass. A Troon Vineyard red blend is also available on the cask system for $10 per glass. Mackay said he expects to introduce the wine-serving technology to the company's other five restaurants.
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