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    How Big Is Your Container?

    We have some great news to share!  But first, allow us to bore you to death.

    Did you know that prior to today, the only allowable container sizes for wine in the U.S. were 50mL, 100mL, 187mL, 375mL, 500mL, 750mL, 1 liter, 1.5 liter, 3 liter, and then above that in even liter increments up to 18 liters? Above that, the container size is limited by your imagination (i.e. it's exempt beyond that). Beer, by comparison, has no such limitations on container size.

    Why is this?  It all starts with the 21st amendment of the US Constitution enacted on December 5, 1933, when prohibition was repealed.  The Federal government gave states the authority to regulate alcohol, but Rosevelt also created by executive order the Federal Alcohol Control Administration (FACA) to preserve Federal regulatory authority over alcohol.  About 2 years later, Congress established the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA), which replaced the FACA.  

    Anyways, standards of fill for wine were first regulated in 1941, and they were in imperial units (gallons, pints, ounces).  In 1974, they were mandated to be metric units, mostly as a convenience for imported wines, which are packaged in metric units.  Having to package in a totally different size for a particular market is a pretty difficult thing to do, so this opened up the U.S. to most wineries around the world, particularly in France, Italy and Spain.  At that point, only 7 fill sizes were allowed (100mL, 187mL, 375mL, 750mL, 1 liter, 1.5 liters, 3 liters), which reflected the glass bottles being used for European wine.  Producers and retailers were given 5 years to come into compliance with these new standards of fill & sell all of the wine they have in inventory.  Along the way, 50mL and 500mL were added in 1978 and 1990, respectively.

    Wineries in Eastern European countries, as well as many in Germany and Austria, have long been impacted by these regulations where the 700mL bottle is common. This size has been rejected in the U.S. due to it being very close to 750mL that consumers would confuse one for another, and get screwed out of 50mL.  These container fill size regulations are meant to protect consumers from our own stupidity, so no obscure Baltic wine for you, friends!

    For a long time, the glass bottle has been the unequivocal choice for wineries, so much so that putting wine into anything else, except perhaps a box, was mostly unheard of.  After all, it's bootleggers that fill mason jars full of booze of varying fill height in unmarked containers, and do we want to return to that?

    In July 2019, the TTB proposed a rule that would eliminate fill sizes entirely.  After a lot of grumbling from large industry players (large producers & distributors) and excitement from super small players like us, a compromise was made.

    Today, after 1.5 years of deliberation, the brave bureaucrats at the TTB have added new fill sizes!  

    These newly allowed fill sizes are 200mL, 250mL and 355mL.  Why is this a big deal?  These sizes accommodate a wider range of canned wines, and that's good for us!  The 250mL size is particularly great for us, since that's what we package in.  Yesterday, if you were outside of California, we had to sell you 3 cans of the same wine packaged together in a cool tube.  We still love the tube, of course, but what about variety packs?  What if you just want a single can?   What if a retailer wants to sell a single 250mL can?  Sorry, couldn't do it.  Starting today (Dec. 30, 2020), we can!

    Variety packs are an area that we're super excited about, and now we can go full steam ahead with offering variety packs outside of California.

    The 355mL can is also a big deal.  This is a standard 12 oz. can, which is the most economical can available to us in the United States.  Prior to today, wineries putting their wine into cans were forced to use a 375mL can, which is produced for the European market and made in Europe.  This added a lot of unnecessary costs & delays for wineries packaging in this format.

    Want to read even more about this?  Check out https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=TTB-2019-0004-0682

     

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