Posted on | July 10, 2013
Written by | Kristen Wolfe Bieler
Sometimes the most revolutionary ideas are the most obvious ones. Stack Wines falls squarely in this “why-didn’t-someone-think-of-that-before?” category.
The idea may be simple—750ml bottle of wine divided up into four single servings in ready-to-drink glassware ideal for taking anywhere—but the packaging is not. In development for three years, Stack Wines features a snap-apart design with four individual shatter-proof stemless wine glasses shrink-wrapped in a sturdy zip-apart sleeve.
Stack Wines launched in March of 2012—and recently expanded nationally in partnership with Shaw Ross International Importers—but the idea was hatched in 2010 when business school student Matt Zimmer was at home drinking a stale glass of wine. A lightbulb went off and he started sketching a bottle of wine that was divided in four parts. Zimmer then teamed up with fellow MBA classmates Jodi Wynn and Doug Allan (whose background includes wine educator and a stint at Napa’s Chateau Montelena), and the trio began rapidly prototyping the concept.
“Matt and I were not part of the wine industry, but we saw this product as something that could fit into our lives as consumers,” explains Wynn, who serves as Stack Wines’ VP of Marketing. “It is the perfect solution to the problem of having to lug glasses, bottles and corkscrews to outdoor concerts, music festivals and picnics.”
Portability is central to the brand’s identity (the tagline featured on the package reads: “Take It With You”). For this reason, Wynn says, Stack Wines doesn’t target a specific demographic—everyone is a potential consumer: “If you are camping or on a boat this product is perfect for that situation—or if you just want one glass of wine on Tuesday without opening a bottle. This isn’t meant to replace your bottle of wine at a fine restaurant; it’s meant to be an option when you might otherwise not think of wine.”
‘Zip, Snap & Sip’
It took Wynn and her co-founders over a year to develop and repeatedly test their supply chain, and move from prototype to final product. It was difficult to find a bottling line that could achieve the correct vacuum seal required for wine. Getting the four glasses to snap together consistently was also a challenge. After years of trial and error. Stack Wines’ current incarnation was born. The exterior shrink sleeve includes a graphic of a zipper on the side with the instructions “Zip, Snap, Sip” and, once unzipped, releases four glasses snapped together like Legos. “It feels like holding glass, but has all the benefits of plastic,” Wynn describes.
Benefits that include a far lower carbon footprint and recyclability. “Because they are 50% lighter than glass bottles, we can fit 40% more wine onto a truck,” Wynn says. “The trade also appreciates that it has the same dimensions as a regular 750ml bottle of wine for easy slotting next to other 750ml bottles.”
Quality, Convenience & Fascination
It’s the wine inside, however, that has consumers coming back a second time. “There is a lot of alternative wine packaging out there, but many have very entry-level wine in them,” says Wynn. “We are trying to help change that by offering quality wine in convenient package.” Co-founder Doug Allan works with wine suppliers to achieve the flavor profile he is looking for—wines that are refreshing, designed to be consumed in casual, often outdoor, environments. The four offerings—Cabernet, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and an off-dry red blend, “Charisma”—are all California appellation and SRP $11.99-$12.99.
“The first time the Stack Wines founders came to our offices, we were fascinated,” recalls Nick James, VP Marketing, Shaw Ross International Importers. “We had never seen anything like this before.” James noticed the same thing when he passed the Stack Wines samples around his office as he did when he showed them to his chain buyers: People immediately start unzipping and unsnapping the package. “We knew right away we had something unique here.” Even members of the trade who thought they had seen everything found the packaging appealing—all the more so when they tasted the wine. “The quality of the wine really delivers,” James adds. Shaw Ross is still rolling out Stack Wines nationwide—so far, about 20 markets carry it. And reorders are already pouring in.