Henschke Hill of Grace says goodbye screwcap, hello Vino-Lok

henschke hillofgrace vinolo The 2008 vintage of Henschke Hill of Grace has not yet been released. But when it comes out, the wine that is arguably Australia’s finest single-vineyard wine, and priced at around $500, will be sealed with neither screwcap nor cork; It will be closed with Vino-Lok.

Stephen Henschke became enamored with the technology when he presented a paper at a conference in Germany in 2004. He brought some of the glass closures back to Australia and tested some bottles of Hill of Grace with Vino-Lok in collaboration with the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). Now with five years of testing and bottle age, Henschke is pleased with the evolution and will convert half of the 2008 production of Hill of Grace to Vino-Lok. The past few vintages have been entirely under screwcap.

“We have always viewed screwcap as a transitional closure, poised between cork and, well, we don’t know what,” Henschke told me in New York yesterday.

Vino-Lok, known (if at all) as Vino-Seal in the US, is a glass stopper that has an inner elastic ring that forms a seal with the bottle. Over on the Vino-Lok site, they say that it opens with a “click.” Henschke says they look “cool.” He’s so pleased with the closure that he has just installed the first Vino-Lok bottling line in Australia at his winery.

Vino-Lok touts its ability to age wines. And Henschke agrees that the evolution is slow, akin to magnums that are considered the ideal size for cellaring. “I call a [750 ml] bottle under Vino-Lok a half a magnum,” he says. “That’s how well it ages.”

Is the world of fine and collectible wine ready for a new closure? We will find out in the next year or so with the release of the 2008 Hill of Grace.

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16 Responses to “Henschke Hill of Grace says goodbye screwcap, hello Vino-Lok”


  1. We have been “corking” our meads with Vino seals since our inception 2 years ago. It took a little time for the bottle manufacturer in Mexico to get it just right, but we have been very pleased with the outcome and wouldn’t consider using anything else now. Customer comments have been very positive as well.


  2. I love these glass stoppers. They’re beautiful. I often remove label and keep bottles for water on the table and at picnics.


  3. Karl Steininger has been using the Vino-Lok on his better Gruner Veltliners for a few years now, as has Josh Jensen at Calera for his Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I have no idea what the economics of the thing are, but they are classy as can be, and reusable. We save our empties for salad oils.


  4. Sineann also uses the Vino-Seal. They’re beautiful and easy to get out of the bottle.


  5. Interesting indeed – and I applaud the effort to do this based on testing of their products over time, not on aesthetics alone.

    Those these closures look beautiful, I know of other wineries that have chosen not to move forward with them because of oxidations issues they’ve experienced during testing. Most bottling lines are not set up to use these ‘automatically’, so hand application is oftentimes necessary.

    I’m hopeful that over time, we’ll be able to taste and ‘test’ the Vino Lok and screwcap versions side by side to check out evolution, etc.

    Cheers!


  6. Good to hear various reactions to the Vino-Lok. I haven’t opened a bottle closed with one so I look forward to the experience. Glad you like them and think them stylish. It could be something big–but just how big may be limited by how much they cost and I can’t imagine they’re cheap.


  7. Good tip ! I hate the regular corkstopper… Haven’t seem this one before, so I’m definitely trying it !


  8. I’ve had a few white wines using the closure and they certainly are ‘cool’ – the click on and off concept and the reusabiity of the bottle is certainly cool.

    From a winemaking perspective, though, I worry about the trans ox properties of the closure and wonder how they compare to other closures in the short, medium, and long terms.

    Just because something is ‘new and cool looking’ certainly does not mean it is ‘better’ than what is currently being used.

    Cheers!


  9. Wow! That looks pretty cool. Those Germans have some good inventions. I cannot wait to try my first bottle of wine with the Vino-Lok


  10. Larry,

    I would like to see comparable rates of oxygen transmission on corks, synthetic corks, screwcaps, and vino lok.

    Please note that Henschke is quite a methodical person, his winery enjoys an international reputation, and he has been testing these closures for five years and is thrilled with the results. So his decision hardly seems like a snap judgment because they look cool.

    I wonder if he might price the vino lok more than the screwcap the way plumpjack did a few years back when they introduced a screwcap alongside a bottling under cork.


  11. I have already talked about it in these two post:

    http://www.parliamodivino.com/2009/09/vino-lok-il-tappo-in-vetro.html

    http://www.parliamodivino.com/2009/09/le-mie-prime-bottiglie-con-il-tappo-in.html

    My opinion is that the glass stopper is too expensive…

    ;)


  12. If you’re looking for a VinoLok wine, I believe that Cusumano (a Sicilian producer) bottles using them and is in wide distribution (at the very least, Southern Wine & Spirits carries it down here in Florida). Their Syrah is quite good, and (naturally) they make a very tasty Nero d’Avola.


  13. Grey Stack winery in the Bennett Valley (Sonoma) was using glass stoppers on their (fantastic) Sauvignon Blanc from about 2006-2009, but chose to go back to cork for the 2010 vintage due to (IIRC) a combination of supply problems and leaking bottles.

    I love the stoppers, but can attest that some of their bottles did leak. In my tiny sample, 1 in about 40 bottles leaked.

    Thanks for the news about Henschke though.


  14. [...] of Dr. Vino, an Australian winery using a new German technology rather than a screw cap for its cellar-destined (at $500/bottle!) wines. Called Vino-Lok, the company touts its glass [...]


  15. I hope they will consider this closure for Mt. Edelstone as well.


  16. [...] is seeking another closure has begun tests with screwcaps. Maybe he should follow Henschke and say bonjour to Vino-Lok? Also: Ch. Margaux is “very close” to being organic. [...]


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