Why didn’t I think of that?
It is a question I ask myself anytime I meet someone new and brilliant. It is a question I couldn’t stop asking myself over two separate dinners at Frasca and Twelve with Matthew Cain, founder of Yellow + Blue, a wine label that is created with the concept that good wine can come in cleaner packaging. Cain has a long history in the wine industry. Most notably before Y+B, he worked alongside Kermit Lynch for nearly a decade. After one particular trip across seas, he cleared his head and heard his calling. It came to fruition upon return when he read an article on alternative wine packaging. Everyone else around the world was waking up and going ‘green’. Why in so many states are so many boxed wines and those in Tetra Pak so mediocre? Can we not have good 100% organic wine, be better to the earth and save some money all at the same time? Simple. But brilliant.
As I started to tell him how great it was to have a glass-less wine that I could whole-heartedly recommend to campers, concert-goers and park dwellers, when he kinda laughed. That actually never crossed his mind at the beginning. But within a few months of its release, it was clear that this was a major, underserved demographic. Why should outdoor activities compromise quality? Why should the fact that is less expensive have to mean that it will lack any sort of complexity and character? I explained to him that in a state like Colorado, this product has been a God-send. Intentional or not, these alternative products are sold to serious wine drinkers only in times that force them to walk away from the bottle—times that do not allow glass in the picture. Y+B has the ability to really change these consumers’ perspectives. In the meantime, those who already get it and subscribe to wine of any race, shape or size now have something a little more interesting to sip!
What struck me about Cain was his genuine, humble nature. He was soft-spoken and had a very serious, intense demeanor, but not so much that you couldn’t strike up conversation with ease. He was driven, focused, and had all the makings of a natural born entrepreneur. His confidence was effortlessly transparent during conversation—a comfortable confidence. It was contagious, as I was inspired to start about nine different businesses over the course of a two-hour discussion. That energy is the kind that makes selling his wine even easier. Without knowing him at all, you can tell in one taste that these wines were selected and shaped by someone with pride and integrity.
Y+B uses Tetra Pak to contain their wine. At a liter, you get about 30% more wine than a standard 750 ml bottle. With the packaging, you are looking at 93% wine and only 7% packaging, whereas standard glass wine packages are closer to 50/50. Y+B takes everything into consideration: production, materials, gas, transport, printing, pesticides, chemicals… According to Dr. Tyler Colman (also known as Dr. Vino), Y+B produces about 54% less of a carbon footprint than the average wine production. A lot of people don’t think about it, but sheer weight and materials that are involved with wine production, shipment and marketing make it one of the more environmentally straining industries.*
I could go on with statistics and figures, but that’s a little more involved than this entry wants to get. At the end of the day, the story is this: we all know alternative packaging is better for the earth. We all know that if we want good wine, our chances for a great box wine is slim (at least in the state of Colorado). If this all sounds familiar, go to your local shop and ask for Y+B–particularly the Torrontes and the Select Red. They distribute to over 40 states, so there is a good chance if your store doesn’t have it, they can get it!
Drinking for a good cause doesn’t have to suck.
*All facts and figures here are found on their website: http://www.ybwines.com/default.asp