Wine keg company Free Flow Wines is kicking it into high gear this year, just in time for Earth Day (April 22). Founded by two wine industry veterans in 2009, Free Flow Wines provides reusable stainless steel wine kegs for over 350 wines. These kegs are in 2,000 restaurants and bars all over the country, providing wine drinkers with cheaper and more environmentally friendly access to good wines. We’ll drink to that!
2013 was the year of green for Free Flow Wines. They revamped their Napa-based facility to recycle 99 percent of all water used to clean the kegs, cutting the company’s water use in half. In addition, the company installed the first automated wine kegging line in North America. It cleans and fills 70 wine kegs per hour! Free Flow Wines currently fills more than 8,000 kegs per month for wineries and distributes the kegs to thousands of venues around the country. They will increase their fleet to 65,000 kegs by the end of the year.
This may seem like a lot, but the demand for wine kegs is growing quickly as retailers and consumers realize the benefits:
- Kegs can deliver fresher wine than bottles, since a bottle can be open for hours, even a day or more, before your glass is poured.
- The money that the winery saves on packaging and the discounts the restaurant or wine bar receives when buying a keg are often passed on to the consumer in the form of a more affordable glass of wine.
- This form of vino delivery eliminates the enormous waste that accumulates from wine bottles, corks, cases, etc.--each Free Flow Wine keg (which holds about 26 bottles worth of wine) saves 2,340 pounds of trash from the landfill over its lifetime.
- Finally, less packaging material means that the wine is lighter and cheaper to ship around the country, which reduces the carbon footprint.
“We are dedicated to removing the material waste that has been the dirty little secret of the wine industry since its inception,” said Jordan Kivelstadt, the Co-Founder and CEO of Free Flow Wines. “Over the 20-year life of a Free Flow keg we reduce the carbon footprint of the same amount of wine poured from bottles by 96%. In addition to our innovative water reclamation system that replaces over 1 million gallons of water each year, Free Flow Wines has removed material waste from U.S. landfills including 2 million bottles, or 4.5 million pounds tons of trash and we will remove 10 million bottles, or 7,500 tons of trash, by 2015.”
Some may worry about the quality of the wine in these kegs, but food-grade stainless steel and a layer of inert gas (a mixture of 75% nitrogen and 25% CO2) keep the wine fresh and untainted. The wines filling these kegs range in price and style from the lush and affordable Cupcake wines to more upscale fare like Au Bon Climat pinot noir and Flora Springs cabernet sauvignon. Whatever your style, you can find it in a keg. We like anything that helps the environment and allows us to drink wine at the same time--cheers!