Global glass shortage hits Washington winemakers

A glass bottle shortage has winemakers worried and could make the bottles you buy in the future cost more.

Overseas reports say Portuguese winemakers want government intervention to deal with the shortage. Some French wine producers say it may force them to re-use bottles, a situation that hasn’t been seen in decades.

Washington state is not immune to the shortage.

KIRO 7 spoke to Elizabeth Keyser, lead winemaker at Rocky Pond Estate Winery, who said the winery has already had to act to deal with the shortage.

Keyser said Rocky Pond harvested grapes in October, which was already a bit of an oddity for the season. But the winemaker placed their glass order in July to ensure that they could bottle, which they will start to do in about a week.

Keyser estimates that over the last three years, the glass supply has decreased about 20%.

Supply chain issues and energy costs are creating a situation that’s led to a dwindling glass bottle supply. Keyser said that factory closures in China and delays at U.S. ports are factors.

“We’ve also had to look outside the box as well, such as lighter-weight glass options,” said Keyser.

Some estimates say prices for bottles have risen significantly, and Keyser confirms that glass is more expensive.

“It is because the cost of fuel, (the) cost of labor … I know it’s already impacting the state. Other wine producers are having to change their bottling dates,” she said.

While bottles are the primary way that consumers purchase and cellar wine, Keyser said she’s heard of wine producers that are already looking for alternatives.

“I’m also seeing more and more producers look to canning, bag and box options,” said Keyser, who added that not every winemaker can afford to put their product in alternative containers.

The Washington State Wine Commission estimates that the state is the second-largest wine producer nationwide, making over 17 million cases of wine each year — about 204 million bottles.

A 50% rise in glass cost ultimately will be felt by consumers.

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