Do you ever browse the wine section at a store and wish you could first try a glass before buying the entire bottle?
How many times have you wasted wine because you didn’t want to drink all 750 milliliters in one sitting?
ONE87 has a solution for both: ready-to-drink, single-serve wines coming to a shelf near you.
Napa’s Bill Hamilton, owner of ONE87, is in the process of partnering with many local wineries to package their wine into single-serving, 187ml vessels that they can then distribute worldwide.
He’s obtained the licensing to use a heavily-patented technology and packaging process from French company OneGlassWine, and has the exclusive rights to this licensing in North America.
OneGlassOne has been using this technology for more than a decade.
The vessels, both stemmed and stemless, are PET Food Grade, BPA-free and vacuum sealed to ensure freshness and portability and 100 percent recyclable. They have a shelf life of 12 to 24 months.
Hamilton is from Kansas and resided in Dallas for 30 years before coming to California 15 years ago. He’s spent most of his career working in commercial finance and real estate, but has an entrepreneurial spirit.
The filling technology intrigued him when he discovered it and seeing a demand for it, he became a student of the industry and, “jumped in head-first, for better or for worse.”
Others have tried single serve packaging for wine before. Currently, Zipz Packaging Technologies and Stack Wines have iterations on the market, but Hamilton said he doesn’t view them as a threat.
“I’d say we have zero legitimate competition,” he said confidently.
“We think we’ve got the easiest and, by far, the most effective means to deliver a wine in a single-serve portion. Besides the fact that our technology is very much more attractive visually and offers a more pleasant drinking experience than anything else out there, we have the ability to design custom vessels for wineries.”
Customers can further differentiate themselves from the competition with unique vessel design, much like wineries do with labels or bottle shapes. The size can vary as well, ranging from 60ml to 450ml.
The target price range will be between $3.99 and $7.99 each, the equivalent of a mid-range $15 to $20 bottle of wine. However, one of his clients is planning to package a $50 bottle of wine as a test.
Hamilton is aware that single-serve wine has a bad reputation, but he said ONE87 can change the consumer’s perception.
“I think we change that by the appearance of the vessel to begin with,” he said.
“If you look at our vessels, that’s not a paper label, that is silk screen printed on there. It’s a higher quality look.”
“And where typically wines in a single serve wouldn’t be a specific vintage, certainly not an AVA, ours will always be vintage specific, varietal specific and AVA specific. We also put a story about the area it was produced from on the back.”
For any remaining skeptics, a multi-step process ensures that the wine maintains its quality, he said. The facility is a controlled environment at a constant 58 degrees.
There are also several measures taken to prevent oxygen from getting in the vessel, like eliminating the use of pumps in favor of gravity-fed movement, a slow and gentle filling system and a foil cap seal that vacuums the oxygen out of the head space to less than 0.2 percent.
“It’s just a compilation of five to six pieces of magic that keeps that nasty guy oxygen out of the wine, which is the deteriorating force,” Hamilton said.
He’s even developed his own brand, Vai Vino, Italian for Go Wine. He buys small lots of wine from boutique wineries, packages them with his technology and releases them under Vai Vino, and likely other brands in the future too.
“Everyone is looking at single-serve as having some crappy wine in it, and that was true. But with our packaging you can put high-quality wine in it. That’s why we’re doing our own brand,” Hamilton said, hoping to set an example and standard with his own label.
ONE87 opened its American Canyon facility and offices on Lombard Road and is rapidly expanding.
Currently, they have one filling line with a capacity of filling 1 million vessels a month. But by January, they’ll have two additional machines that will increase their production level to 5 million a month, for which Hamilton said they will have the demand.
He also sees potential to break into the restaurant industry, and maybe even concessions.
“The food market is wide open to us. When you order a glass of wine at a restaurant, they have to open a new bottle and then they have to sell the remaining three glasses in that wine that day.”
“It’s downhill in quality from there,” said Hamilton, who has an idea to sell 24-packs of carafe-style vessels to restaurants.
Plans to start producing ready-to-drink cocktails are set for the start of 2017.
And while his background may not be in wine, he says the proof is in the positive response he’s gotten from the wine industry thus far.
The company was even awarded the People’s Choice Award for Most Innovative Packaging at the Wines & Vines Packaging Conference in Yountville this past August.
“Let’s just say that we’re in various stages of discussions with several of the top 10 wine producers in the world,” he said.
“I keep thinking, ‘Am I just having a pipe dream here?’ But we’re getting people in the industry jumping on our team. I look for the day where retailers like Total Wine and BevMo have a full aisle of nothing but single serve. I don’t think it’s that far off that we will look like craft brew sections do today.”
“We think we’ve got the easiest and, by far, the most effective means to deliver a wine in a single-serve portion. Besides the fact that our technology is very much more attractive visually and offers a more pleasant drinking experience than anything else out there, we have the ability to design custom vessels for wineries.” Bill Hamilton