Natural cork. Synthetic. Screw tops. Glass. Plastic. Cardboard. The debate continues to swirl around alternative wine packaging. Delicato Family Vineyards located in California’s central valley pushes the agenda with the Bota Box brand. Bota Box offers 14 different varietals and blends in an eco-friendly approach. These include the usual suspects like chardonnay and cabernet. The two blends are known as Redvolution and Nighthawk Black. We tried the cabernet recently and here’s our thoughts.
Bota Box wine comes in a box, of course. But not just any box. The Bota Box crew takes sustainability seriously so they craft the box from unbleached recycled paper containing 90% post-consumer fiber. They print with VOC-free inks. And instead of regular glues, Bota Box uses cornstarch. Now that’s attention to detail.
Inside the box, sits the wine-filled bladder. Bota constructs the bladder and spout from BPA-free plastic. Good work here too.
All the above allows for Bota Box to pack the equivalent of four bottles of wine into something the size of about just one regular glass wine bottle. The company estimates that their packaging delivers three liters of wine with 85% less landfill waste than those traditional glass bottles. From a sustainability standpoint, I’d say the Bota Box hit their marks.
Weight: 6 lbs 5 oz.
Materials: 100% recycled cardboard, BPA-free plastic, 14 different wines
Volume: 3 L
There are a few flaws in the approach however. They come in the form of practicality in the outdoors, an important issue for GearGuide readers. A single Bota Box three liter package weighs in at more than six pounds. Even the most wine obsessed backpacker would take a pass on that extra weight. Removing the fiberboard packaging cuts a few ounces but not enough to get the Bota Box into most packs. Bota Box does have a new 1.5 liter option that might make more sense.
For car camping and picnicking, the weight presents less of an issue. And definitely packing four bottles in 25% of the space make the Bota Box a desirable alternative to a more traditional approach. BTW, when compared to an average full wine bottle — which can be nearly three pounds — the Bota Box delivers the same volume at half the weight.
So Bota Box hits it out of the park from a sustainability standpoint, no issues there. But the big question is “how’s the wine?” Let me answer the question this way. A typical three liter Bota Box retails for $23. That’s a little less than $6 per traditional bottle of wine. Expect essentially that level of quality from Bota Box wines. At least that was our experience with the cabernet. We can’t comment on the other varietals and blends. Your mileage certainly may vary.
We love Bota Box’s approach to packaging and sustainability. In fact, we wish other vintners would seriously explore using Bota Box-like options. Unfortunately, we didn’t love the Bota Box wine as much. It’s on par with what we’ve come to expect from a sub-$6 bottle of cabernet.