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Packaging helps make wine eco-friendly

Natalie and Chris Large said they always had it in the back of their minds to make their own wines for public consumption, but it was an idea that never quite took hold during their eight years operating Grand Vin, a wine shop in Utica Square.

"We sold Grand Vin in 2009, and that was when everything kicked in," Chris said. "After we sold the store, we realized we had all of these contacts in the wine industry, including my brother, Scott, a wine broker and co-owner of Thirst Wine Merchants."

Natalie and Chris decided a negociant style of winemaking, common in Europe but less so in the United States, would be the most expedient way to get into the business.

"We don't own land or a winery, but we choose the vineyards where we obtain our grapes, we hire the winemakers, and we choose the winery that custom-crushes the grapes and produces the wines," Chris said.

The Larges chose the name ecoVINO Wines to reflect their passion to produce wines in an eco-friendly manner.
"We started with one of the big players in the free-run winery service, which is basically a company that helps connect the dots, and that led us to Carneros Vintners, a custom-crush facility on the Sonoma-Napa border," Chris said.

"Carneros is certified organic, which means everything associated with the wine -- the grapes, even the trucks that transport the grapes -- have to be certified organic. The grapes for our chardonnay come from three vineyards in Mendocino County, one of the greenest wine-growing regions in the world."

"An important part of that to us," added Natalie, "is it also means nothing has been touched by insecticides."
Another key component was the packaging, and up popped the Astropouch, a pouch made of food-grade plastic that is free of Bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen used in the manufacture of some plastics.

For ecoVINO wines, the package holds 1 1/2 liters, the equivalent of two regular bottles of wine.

"This product is 2 percent package and 98 percent wine, which is unbelievable," Chris said. "A regular bottle of wine is about 60 percent wine and 40 percent package."

The Larges produced 5,200 cases of their first vintage of chardonnay in the pouches, released this month.
Chris said that even after the wines are packaged, an awareness of the environment is not finished.

"Carneros has a large composting facility nearby, so all of the grape by-product in making our wines goes directly to the compost pile," he said. "That, in turn, is used to grow more organic grapes."

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