You're rushing through the wine aisle, late for a dinner party, and you want to bring something for the hosts that tastes great and lives up to the green, organic, sustainable credo we're always professing around here. So which bottle do you reach for?
None. You grab a box.
Meet Yellow + Blue Wines: the company that marries a love of fine wine, with a passion for caring just a tiny bit more about the earth.
Yellow + Blue—which makes green if you didn't catch that at first blush—has carved out a niche as the country's leading wine importer committed to environmentally responsible production and consumption.
The first thing anyone notices about Yellow + Blue is that box: each of the company's four wines is sold in a litre-sized Tetra Pak cartons, something usually seen on grocery shelves holding milk or broth. By embracing the box, Yellow + Blue cuts the carbon footprint of the average bottle of wine in half. Yellow + Blue founder Matthew Cain has news for purists who scoff at the notion of wine from a box: If you're not stocking a wine cellar, you don't need that glass bottle.
"I mean everyone likes to talk about aging wine, but the reality in the U.S. is that wine is drunk immediately after purchase," Cain tells TakePart. "Glass is good for aging wine, but when wine is drunk immediately, it’s irrelevant."
What's more, Cain tells us, people who insist on bottles hardly ever recycle them. Only 15 percent of wine bottles have a second life. The bulk 85 percent languish in landfills.
"And so for us, I said [the bottle] model in the long run isn’t sustainable—this doesn’t work," Cain says.
In addition to a box—which people are much more likely to recycle—Yellow + Blue's turned the entire shipping process on its head to extract environmental benefits.
Conventional wine is bottled at the source, and shipped by the case to the U.S—in roughly 40-pound packages. The cases of bottles stack up to tons of unnecessary weight, creating more emissions when they're transported.
Yellow + Blue imports its wine in one big insulated container. There's no excess packaging—which translates to a lighter shipment and fewer emissions. The wine is boxed at a facility in Toronto.
To make its wine 100 percent carbon neutral, the company purchases offsets from Renewable Choice Energy, ensuring that it's the only completely carbon neutral company in the wine business. The company is also 100 percent certified organic, from vineyard to packaging plant. Its growers use no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Many winemakers will use a cultured yeast that isn't naturally occurring; Yellow + Blue eschews the practice.
"From my point of view, wine is a natural thing, and rather than trying to use man-made things to make it something it's not, we like to let the wines speak for themselves and be much more natural."
Cain, who spent 15 years working for Kermit Lynch—one of the most renowned importers in the U.S.—knows about fine wines. He says Yellow + Blue is working to build an importing model that doesn't sacrifice quality in the name of environmental responsibility.
If reduced emissions and organic cultivation don't convince you to reach for a box of Yellow + Blue, what about good karma? The company donates a portion of its profits to Kiva, the global microlender.