Insights from a Wine Packaging Innovator

Coppola's top winemaker to detail company's successes and failures with packaging

by Andrew Adams
wine packaging conference francis ford coppola
The winding labels that adorn Francis Ford Coppola's Director's Cut collection mimic the images seen in a Zoetrope strip.

Yountville, Calif.—It’s just a little bit of string, but when Francis Ford Coppola added decorative gold netting to the bottles of Claret in its Diamond Collection, the winery saw a big increase in sales.

The thin, gold net added to the bottles of Claret in 2009 were inspired by a bottle of 1906 Claret that winery owner and film director Francis Ford Coppola found in the cellar of the Inglenook estate after he purchased it in 1975. Coppola had been producing Claret, which is a blend of Bordeaux varieties, since 1995.

The netting is a traditional packaging technique found in European wine regions such as the Rioja of Spain, where it originated as a way to deter counterfeiters. Before Coppola added the netting, the brand was growing at a rate of about 4.5% per year. With the netting, Claret sales increased to 16% per year growth. The winery had to raise the wine’s price to cover investing in two netting machines and the extra packaging materials, but the price increase did not deter sales. Production volume has more than doubled to 375,000 cases, and the wine is the top Cabernet Sauvignon sold in the United States in the $15-$20 retail category. 

Corey Beck, president and director of winemaking for Francis Ford Coppola Winery, will discuss the success of packaging innovations such as the gold netting as well as some projects that didn’t fare so well at the upcoming Wines & Vines Wine Packaging Conference. The full-day show takes place Aug. 16 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville, Calif.

Beck, who shared an advance copy of his presentation with Wines & Vines, is one of the first speakers at the conference and will discuss Coppola’s process for developing and working with new types of packaging. While it’s one of the larger wine producers in the North Coast of California, Coppola’s wine company has not shied away from offbeat or unique packaging types. The winery was one of the first premium producers to invest in putting wine in cans with the launch of its Sofia “mini” cans in 2004.

The conference, now in its fourth year, also features speakers who will discuss the principles of effective wine packaging design and present case studies about successful brand redesigns. A technical breakout session will provide expert tips on how to ensure a successful bottling day.

Many of the industry’s top packaging suppliers will also be onsite as part of a trade show in the theater and there will be three tasting bars. Napa, Calif.-based Free Flow Wines will be pouring samples of wine on tap; ONE87 will have samples of its single serve wine packaging, and APCOR (the cork consortium of Portugal) will also be pouring wines sealed with natural cork.

Conference attendees are encouraged to vote for their pick for the “Peoples’ Choice” award, choosing one of the top 50 entries of the Wines & Vines Wine Packaging Design Awards. A panel of judges has already picked the winning wine brands, which will be announced in a ceremony near the end of the conference. Attendees who vote and wait to see which brand wins the People’s Choice honor will also be entered into a raffle for a large-format bottle of Roederer Estate sparkling wine.

For more details including the complete schedule and to register visit wvpack.com.


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