Ontario to heavy bottles: keep out!

Remember those obnoxiously heavy bottles that were all the rage before the recession? Well, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario has told them they are not welcome. That’s right, to be sold monopolist’s stores that serve the 13 million residents of the province, bottles must be lightweight, tipping the scales at 420g maximum (as a reference point, the wine inside the bottle weighs 750g).

It’s good to light a fire under producers to lightweight bottles; wine lags other beverages, which have been constantly reducing the weight of their packaging over the past few decades. However, the LCBO is only applying this rule, applicable in 2013, to bottles selling for less than C$15.

Thus the new rule still valorizes heavy bottles: Producers may still try to position their premium wines with shelf-bending bottles under the false assumption that heavy bottles means better wines. But still, most of the wines at the LCBO sell for less than C$15 so the move will have a big impact from a volume perspective on reducing carbon emissions of the wine trade. Perhaps the move will encourage high-volume producers to opt for lighter bottles for all of North America, the same way Kleenex and other produces have French written on them when producers want labeling compliance for all US and Canada with a single package.

What do you think: brilliant move or despicable over-regulation?

The LCBO forces bottles to slim down. The move is...

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17 Responses to “Ontario to heavy bottles: keep out!”

  1. I love the intention here… a forced reduction in the bottle weight would be a great step towards a more eco-friendly experience overall. Where it falls short… Why the limitation on price point? Lighter bottles are less expensive to produce, buy and ship so intuitively (and I may be completely off base here) I would expect that most of the wines that are retailing for less than $15 a bottle are already in compliance with the regulations – making this a rule just to look like steps are being taken. And as a wine maker if I really wanted to use the thin glass then wouldn’t I just raise my price minimally to make the cut? Not sure this will really have an impact except as a gate opener for real legislation further down the road but it’s a start!

  2. Hi Stacy,

    Thanks for the comment–good thoughts. Perhaps someone from the LCBO will join the discussion here to explain the logic behind the decision, particularly the C$15 threshold.

    But, yes, as you say, those most affected are likely those already in compliance…

  3. I can’t caution enough how important it is to make sure you aren’t buying a cheap wine in an expensive bottle. It seems like more and more wine manufactures are using new regulations to make a wine seem like a better value than it is. http://selectbestwine.com/2011/06/13/ontario-to-lower-weight-of-wine-bottles/

    I to would like to know why the price was set at C$15 and if consumers are now at risk of being manipulated by price. I am a novice wine drinker myself (working on becoming an expert 🙂 ) and I would hate to be manipulated by price.

  4. I understand and appreciate the sentiment….but wonder who has put some empty bottles on the scale and weighed them out. Our least expensive glass, going into our appellation pinots or our $10 Four-Mile Creek blends….they all weight 490 grams. We aren’t talking heavy weight, oversized bottles here….

    We are talking, inexpensive, light weight glass still being above the 420 gram mark.

    Honestly, I hadn’t looked at it until now…but I think the limit is too low.

    Adam Lee
    Siduri Wines

  5. Siduri bring up good points here, but at least manufactures have until 2013 to work it out. Although that really isn’t that much time to change an entire system of bottle making, or find a new vendor to purchase from.

  6. True, Adam, it is quite light. I linked to a piece in the posting about a new O-I bottle that weighs 397g. Have you seen it? If so, how do you think it feels?

  7. Actually, I just went thru Demptos’ entire online bottle catalog, found here:

    and there’s nothing that meets the 420g requirement.

    Adam Lee
    Siduri Wines

  8. I haven’t seen the O-I bottle. I will say that changing bottles isn’t something that happens overnight….we have looked at less expensive bottles and had a good bit more breakage, etc.

    In any case, think that having a limit which eliminates all bottles from companies like Demptos is ridiculous.

    Adam Lee
    Siduri Wines

  9. Ha! Well then I call the regulation an epic fail if the weight restrictions are less than what is readily available. That’s calling for widespread industry change.

    That said, perhaps we’re looking at it from the wrong angle. Perhaps it’s a conspiracy to kick lower priced wine off the shelves? (joking…)

  10. I cant get the $15 threshold mark. So if I have a wine that cost $15 and I want to use a heavy bottle, I just sell my wine at $16?

    Seems silly to me that the law applies to the price of the product instead of the product itself.
    Over here we buy bottles that last us around 2 or 3 years depending on the harvest and then hailstorms. If anything like this was applied here we would just rise our prices a bit, insted of having to buy a lot of new bottles and disposing of the old ones.

  11. The price cutoff, as you say, valorizes the heavy bottle as a signal of quality. Which is the wrong signal, LCBO! As for the Demptos catalog, the point of the regulation is to force Demptos to modify its product line. Burdensome to Demptos? Yes, and that’s the point. Could this have been done another way? Sure, gasoline could have been taxed (in the U.S., anyway) to put it at $5 and keep it there. THEN Demptos and other glass makers would be falling all over each other to get lightweight bottles on the market, pronto. But the gas tax thing is not politically tenable, certainly not now, when people need every disposable dollar they can get just to make it through the month. Every American politician likes to rant about “reducing our dependence on foreign oil.” Well, it seems to me the LCBO is taking these blowhards at their word. It’s not a great solution, but it is A solution.

  12. Dave,

    I am sorry, but if the point was really to get Demptos to modify their product line then they wouldn’t have made it effective 1/1/2013. I am already ordering glass for product that could be sold to the LCBO in 2013.

    BTW, CalGlass doesn’t have one either….their least weight, flat bottomed (no punt), screwcap bottle is over 420g.


    Adam Lee
    Siduri Wines

  13. […] beginning in 2013, wine bottles selling for less than C$15 must weigh less than 420g maximum. H/T: Dr. Vino, who asks readers if this is a brilliant move or despicable […]

  14. Waterbrook Melange a long time favorite is now Waterbrook Melange Noir, and in a several ounce heavier bottle. I am sufficiently unimpressed to generally avoid it now.

  15. […] couldn’t hold back an audible groan when I read on Dr. Vino’s Wine Blog that the LCBO has decided that (as of 2013) it will not carry any sub-$15 wine that has a bottle weighing more than 420 […]

  16. As an agent in Ontario, I can tell you that it is a unique experience dealing with the LCBO. The $15 threshold is strategic. With over 600 locations, the LCBO prefers to deal with producers that can supply in large quantities. The majority of wines sold at the LCBO are under $15.

    To sell wine from smaller producers, the LCBO set up an upscale looking section in about a third of their stores. It’s called Vintages. Most wines in Vintages sell for over $15.

  17. […] están enviando vinos a Ontario, tengan en cuenta que el monopolio no aceptará en su stock vinos de menos de C$15 envasados en botellas de más de 420 gramos, a partir de enero […]


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