Roll out the barrel box

redtruckbarrel1Red Truck, a high volume brand from California, has decided to roll out the barrel. Their new three liter bag-in-barrel wine will appear this month at Sam’s Clubs across the country. Their press release claims that this packaging is “convenient, eye-catching and environmentally-friendly…[and] a terrific wine value.” Let’s check the truthiness of these claims.

Convenient? Sure, it probably keeps the wine fresh for a month with the bladder and spigot.

Eye-catching? Yes, it looks better than a box, at least from the photos. Maybe in person it is nasty, plastic-y looking but for now, yes, eye-catching.

Environmentally friendly? [NOTE: because the Red Truck press representative misunderstood my query about the weight of the packaging, this portion has had to be altered.] In my joint research into the carbon footprint of wine, we found that lighter packaging can greatly reduce the overall carbon footprint of wine. This barrel puts 3,000g of wine in 250g of packaging, so it vastly improves the wine-to-packaging ratio over bottles. (The PR person had previously told me the weight of the whole barrel, full of wine, was the weight of the packaging alone. So even though I had to redo this part, she buttered me up by saying that my NYT op-ed had inspired their their 3L package.)

square-watermelonBut the cylindrical casing still leaves more dead air in the truck so it’s not quite as efficient as the rectangular box. (That’s why watermelons are square, right?) The packaging is all #5 plastic, which some municipalities may recycle. The plastic bladder is #7.

Value? At $29.99, it’s the equivalent of $7.50 per bottle. Although it can be found for $6.99 a bottle, many retailers appear to have it for $8.99 a bottle. So, yes, some savings. But you should probably experiment with a bottle of it first to see if you like it.

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11 Responses to “Roll out the barrel box”

  1. In regards to being environmentally friendly I am certain that the juice inside the barrel was made with an array of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides and with the help of many fuel guzzling machines. It would appear that Red Truck has joined an increasing number of producers who are wiling to package and market their wine as ‘green’ and give little if any consideration to the environmental impact of their farming practices.

  2. Greenwashing is a big challenge for every industry, the wine industry included.

    I’m a California winemaker and as someone somewhat familiar with “The Trucks”; for all its “high volume” it’s a family-run wine company in Sonoma, and gets most of its grapes from vineyards that adhere to sustainable practices like those of the Central Coast Vineyard Team:

    I applaud more efficient packaging as a response to the past trend towards heavier and heavier glass bottles that give me carpal tunnel to pour.

    Maybe they’ll open up a service like in France where you can bring your own jug!!!

  3. Allison and Jeff –

    Just so you know, I had to update the post to reflect calculations for the actual weight of the packaging (250g not 3,250g as I was previously told).

  4. Though I’m not involved much in design, I’m always impressed when aesthetic meets functionality. From all appearances online, Red Truck has done a great job with this creation.

  5. I appreciated the comment from Allison, someone who is in the area and is familiar with the practices out there. It hits me as a “cute” gimmick, but if you like the wine, not a bad setup for the “daily” glass of wine. I’ve checked out a couple wines in boxes that were acceptable also. Still prefer a bottle, and variety. I’m not one to drink the same thing all the time. But hey, if you’re in college, these babies would look great stacked up against the wall.

  6. If only those square watermelons could be recycled as some sort of wine dispensing container… then we would be all set!


  7. Red Truck is not my type of wine, so I wouldn’t get this. I have bought a bag-in-box from the Languedoc/Roussillon area that was quite good. The sales rep said it holds the wine fresh for as much as a month. I found significant deterioration after a week.

  8. Hi Allison,

    Thank you for drawing my attention to I have enjoyed reading through the site and applaud your members for working within a ‘whole farm’ system.


  9. I have to say …. this is eye catching. I really like the barrel look. yes, not exactly the top of the line wine … but I see this great for parties! Thanks for showing this! Cheers!

  10. Usually drink $20 – 50 bottles of red but tried for fun. There are so many nights when I just want a glass (or less) open a bottle and feel guilty and drink most of it. I wish/hope that other major wineries (Bogle, Mondavi, etc) adopt the box!

  11. Another great option is a wine barrel that holds your favorite boxed wine. Check out the Boxed Wine Barrels and Storing Barrels at

    These are real oak barrels that are made in the USA.


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