Gardner Technologies, a US-based wine technology company dedicated to improving wine closure quality, has launched MetaCork, a twist-to-uncork wine opener.
The cork is now available on three Californian premium brand wines: Amusant Wines' Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and a limited volume of Clos du Bois 2002 Sonoma County Chardonnay and Fetzer 2001 Barrel Select Sonoma County Merlot.
With the advent of plastic corks, the race has been on to devise a better alternative to the traditional cork. In recent years a number of improvements have been made to traditional cork closures in an effort to maintain the presence of cork closures within the wine industry. One of the most recent has been the launch of the Pullpop cork screw which is also marketed as self-opening technology.
MetaCork sealed wines were made available at the beginning of August, at the wineries and at 150 retailers and restaurants in California and Texas. The cork will then be available to wineries worldwide beginning 1st September.
"MetaCork not only preserves the traditional look of cork and foil finished wine, but also functions as a common sense wine opener for people who dislike the hassle of traditional corkscrews", said VP of sales & marketing, Kerry Manahan-Ehlow. "The cork is an innovative technology that retains the best parts of tradition. It encompasses a unique bottle design with a built-in cork anchor that enables the consumer to remove a cork or synthetic stopper with nothing more than a few twists of the capsule. We refer to MetaCork as a twist-capsule since it clearly is not a screw cap! In fact it has created an entirely new category for wine packaging. Additionally, the cork is completely recyclable and provides a convenient reseal cap and drip-resistant pouring feature - all with the same form and function as the traditional foil capsule."
CEO William Borghetti said: "To confirm our assumptions on consumer acceptance and provide objective third-party validation, which is important to the wineries, we contracted with TRD Frameworks, a Seattle-based market research firm, to conduct a national survey of our product. The results support our premise that MetaCork will have a high rate of acceptance - 73 per cent of the survey group said that they would purchase MetaCork sealed wines over traditional packaging. Some 83 per cent described their image of wineries using the closure as innovative, more progressive, and more in tune with consumers' needs."
The company has also formed a number of working associations within the wine and wine packaging industry, which it believes will be crucial to the successful launch of the cork.
"Take Vitro Packaging for instance," said Borghetti. "Vitro is one of the world's leading glass manufacturers that is at the forefront of new bottle design for the wine industry. Since no glass manufacturer had ever produced a bottle that met our unique specifications, we needed a partner who could take on such a technical challenge and work with us to ensure that quality was top notch. We also owe a lot to Allied Domecq's Clos Du Bois brand, Brown-Forman's Fetzer Vineyards brand, and Amusant Wines for being the first to market with MetaCork. Being first has its risks, especially in the wine business, but it also can be very rewarding. "
Chris Lynch, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for Clos du Bois believes MetaCork will initially help distinguish the Clos du Bois brand in the marketplace. "MetaCork's proprietary packaging design combines ease of opening with a wonderful presentation for the marketplace and table; it is that combination that intrigues me for Clos du Bois."
MetaCork is the invention of Dr. William Gardner, founder and chief technology officer of Gardner Technologies. Gardner, professor emeritus from the College of Engineering at the University of California at Davis, began his quest to solve the problems of traditional wine closures in 1996.
"I was convinced there was a better solution than the corkscrew and the less-than-perfect screw-caps currently used on wines," said Gardner. "After observing so many people struggling to open a bottle of wine and having to cope with broken corks stuck in the bottle, cork crumbs in the wine, and corks pushed into the wine, as well as negative image problems with screw-caps and their defective or easily damaged seals, I knew this was a problem waiting for a solution and was a challenge I wanted to take on. The solution I arrived at, MetaCork, is the perfect marriage of tradition and technology."
After several years of product research and development, Gardner was ready to formalise a business around his inventions. This led, in 2001, to the formation of Gardner Technologies, which is now based in Napa, California.