Wine hits glass ceiling

07 September, 2007

A Sussex winemaker says she is already feeling the effect of a glass bottle shortage in Europe.

Bookers Vineyards'

Samantha Linter was forced to buy

bottles from a different source after

being told her usual

French supplier had sold out to French winemakers

harvesting earlier than usual.

She said: "With the English harvest just around the corner it is crucial we bottle last year's wine to make room for this year's vintage. The only bottles we managed to find are more expensive, heavier and much taller. Already this is affecting storage, packaging and transport costs."

Many winemakers in Europe are said to be affected by the

shortage of up to 1.5 billion bottles , caused by the scaling down and closure of glass furnaces.

Thomas Shaw, managing director of Gloucestershire winery Three Choirs, said winemakers were having to be more adaptable when it came to bottle type.

He said: "Although we'd like to blame the French for the shortage, we can't. Glass is generally scarce across Europe which we've known about since February and it has meant that perhaps a traditional bottle shape or colour has not been available."

A spokesman for British Glass said there was no known supply shortage of bottles produced in the UK, and urged English wine producers to look closer to home for their glass. "The UK glass industry can often supply at quite short notice and there is a list of suppliers on the British Glass website if they are stuck."

WRAP praises retailers and suppliers for lightweight glass use, page 34.

'Informed debate' needed on material

The British Glass Manufacturers' Confederation has defended glass as a "sustainable form of packaging" as increasing numbers of wine manufacturers turn to alternative formats. In a letter to OLN, director general David Workman said the raw materials used to make glass are cheap and plentiful and glass is inert and recyclable. "If we are to enter a phase where competing materials are to be judged on their impacts on health, the environment and society, then let us have an informed debate based on full and exhaustive impact assessments - not on half-baked, limited life cycle assessments or simplistic calculations of weight," Workman wrote.

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