Bonacquisti Wine Company is not where it wants to be in terms of sustainability, but the company has far improved its operations since opening. “I remember leaving a wine festival during our first year,” recalls Judi, “and we hauled boxes of empty wine bottles to the dumpster. There was no recycling onsite, and all the other wineries dumped their empties there. Nothing about that seemed right.” Promising themselves to do better, the winery embarked on ways to improve its carbon footprint, and reduce, reuse, recycle became the name of the game.
Around 2008 Bonacquisti began a bottle-return program where patrons who did not yet have home recycling could return used bottles to the winery. Paul soaked the bottles in a mixture of soapy water and sanitizer inside a harvest bin so the labels became pliable. Staff then scraped off the glue and residue by hand and sanitized, and the winery reused the bottles. Twenty-seven cases fit in a single harvest bin, and the effort saved about 1,000. “Maybe this coincided with the recession, and we were crash strapped to buy new glass,” strained Paul, recalling the timing of events, “but I don’t remember it being worth the effort. We probably spent more in staff time than we saved buying new bottles. I was glad when home recycling really picked up in the metro-area.”
More recently the winery has launched different efforts, and even took advice from a wine club member with a passion for all systems green. Compostable dinnerware and silverware were used when the winery hosted in house events, and the original upstairs halogen lights were replaced in March by energy efficient LED lighting. The winery encourages all patrons to recycle any wine bottles they take home, and any empties left on site are rinsed and recycled.
Perhaps the most obvious endeavor is the refillable growler program. In the spirit of Italy’s vino sfuso, fresh wine, where taking your container and filling for dinner that night is common, Paul brought the wine on tap concept to Denver and began offering growlers in 2011. More than 5000 growlers are now in circulation, and the newest shipment has just arrived. In the vein of keeping things green the owners are determining how to label this new batch to make cleaning easier. “We’re deciding if we want to etch the glass or perhaps have a removable label,” Judi says. That won’t be the only change, as Bonacquisti will offer a new subscription program with their release. According to Paul, “We have several thousand growlers in circulation, so we know there is a demand. We want to offer a subscription or possibly an exchange program different from our wine club that will showcase the wines on tap to those who fill their jugs regularly. We value their business and want to provide value back.”
The winery knows shopping local helps keep money in circulation in the local economy, and this is another way this Northside business wants to care for Mother Earth and their customers.