July 27, 2020
We’ve all heard that you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover—or a wine by its label, but how many of us have judged one by its packaging, turning up our noses at boxed wine, canned wine, or wine in a tetra pack? There’s no escaping that wine in alternate packaging has had a stigma attached. But a new Canadian-owned winery based in California is tackling the stigma head on.
“We set out to make great wines that were available in more eco-conscious packaging” says Chris Noll, one of the founding partners of Stel + Mar Wines. “With all the focus on better packaging that’s good for the earth, we heard that consumers wanted something that was lighter, more portable and environmentally friendly. While the packaging has existed for a while, it was generally filled with sub-par wine. We take really, really great quality wine and put it in that packaging.”
Stel + Mar makes wines in a variety of sustainable packaging including cans and recyclable tetra packs. Stel + Mar’s Premium California Rosé is available at Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer stores in a tetra pack.
“We just finished the Canadian wine graders testing of all the Rosés that are coming into market this year and ours received 89 points. We are really excited about that!”
For customers wary of trying out wine in these new packages, Noll points to previous wine innovations like synthetic corks and screw tops, which also faced consumer stigma.
“A lot of these new packaging formats are led by the bigger wine companies out there and, truthfully, they’ve been filled with lower quality wine, but if you look at synthetic corks, they're so common now because they do a better job. If you look at twist tops—all the youngest, coolest wineries out there all use twist tops now. I feel like cans and boxes are at the stage where twist tops and synthetic corks were years ago. It’s just a matter of time before that all ends and there are more players in the market putting quality wine into boxes and cans.”
In the United States, sales of boxed wine and wine in alternate packages is exploding, shares Noll. The Stel + Mar team thinks Canadians are also ready to embrace these new packaging ideas.
With a long history of success in the beverage business, (he sold his cider company, Brickworks, to Labatt) Noll and his partner Justin say the opportunity for two Canadians to create a premium California wine business was just too good to pass up, so they created this new company named for their children, Stella and Marcus.
“I fantasized about something like this,” Noll recalls. “When the opportunity to sell the cider company came up we took, it, but it was never something we were expecting or looking for. After that, I was looking for another opportunity where I could create and grow something long term. This is like a dream.”
“The beautiful thing about our Premium Rosé is that we feel we've done something that's quite rare; we've been able to hit on all the points consumers look for today; of quality, convenience, and price. You’re getting an 89-point wine, it’s in a very easy-to-use package, and there’s the convenience of the smaller serving packs with the Rosé being just five hundred millilitres. And then the price makes it really accessible.”
Find Stel + Mar’s Premium California Rosé is available at Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.
Tasting Notes: Stel + Mar Premium California Rosé
This wine is bursting with aromas of fresh watermelon and hints of strawberry. Bright red berry fruit, melon and apricot flavours echo the aromas. Refreshing and dry, this Rosé is medium-bodied with balanced acidity. Perfect poolside and at the dock or served with summer salads or grilled fish.
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