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Vitro and Gardner Technologies develop new twist-off wine closure

Opening a bottle of wine no longer requires any skill with a corkscrew. Vitro Packaging, Inc., Vitro“s U.S. subsidiary, announced 8 September 2003 that with Gardner Technologies, a Napa, California-b…

Opening a bottle of wine no longer requires any skill with a corkscrew. Vitro Packaging, Inc., Vitro“s U.S. subsidiary, announced 8 September 2003 that with Gardner Technologies, a Napa, California-based wine technology company, it has jointly developed, an innovative glass wine bottle for Gardner“s revolutionary new product, MetaCork(TM). MetaCork is a twist-to-uncork wine opener that integrates the traditional look of cork and foil finished wine with state-of-the-art technology. In addition, Metacork(TM) offers a drip resistant pouring feature and an airtight, reseal cap. Nearly 60,000 MetaCork(TM)-sealed bottles of Amusant, Clos du Bois, and Fetzer“s Super Premium brands are being test marketed in restaurants, wine shops, and selected retail chain stores in California and Texas. According to the company, early reports indicate that consumers are impressed that with a simple twist of the wrist the cork comes out. “Vitro is well known for its innovative products, value enhanced and highdegree- of-difficulty packaging design. However, no other product development has been as special as this one. Not only for its level of innovation or for being part of a strategic sales line, but also for the extensive time required to develop dozens of variations on the basic concept before reaching the final design for Burgundy and Claret wine bottles,” said Jose C. Fuentes, New Product Development Manager at Vitro Packaging. Fuentes added that Vitro“s work with Gardner Technologies on their patented bottle design was one of the company“s most rewarding successes. “We worked side-by-side with Gardner“s product development team over a two-year period to refine dozens of variations on the basic concept before arriving at the final solution. It was truly a hand-on, strategic design process.” “Projects such as MetaCork(TM) strengthen our participation in the North American economy”, said Alfonso Gomez Palacio, President of Vitro“s Containers business unit. “When completed, this project will involve a California Company, our Texas Commercial headquarters, our glass containers production facility located in Monterrey, Mexico, as well as thousands of US consumers. This is a huge opportunity for us to show our capabilities to a worldwide wine industry.” MetaCork(TM) was designed by Dr. William Gardner, Chief Technology Officer and founder of Gardner Technologies. He developed the first prototype in 1996, but the product“s design was not finalized until the second half of 2000. MetaCork(TM) encompasses a unique bottle design with a built-in cork anchor that enables the consumer to remove a cork or synthetic stopper with nothing more than a few twists of the capsule. “We affectionately refer to MetaCork(TM) as a twist-capsule, since it clearly is not a screw cap! In fact, MetaCork(TM) has created an entirely new category for wine packaging. Additionally, MetaCork(TM) is 100% recyclable and provides a convenient reseal cap and drip-resistant pouring feature – all with the same attractive appearance of the traditional foil capsule,” said Dr. Gardner. “Bottles sealed with MetaCork(TM) have the same aesthetic qualities as traditional wine bottles, but its functionality is what makes the difference. Creating bottles for MetaCork(TM) required a great deal of analysis and the development of several prototypes and plant unit-cavity samplings. We also created a complete set of molds for first production manufacturing,” Fuentes explained. Fuentes added, “One of the primary challenges of this project was to maintain a balance between the technology that provides the new functionality and the aesthetic requirements for a wine package. In addition, the design of the bottle finish with its specifications for glass had to be compatible with the unique requirements of the plastic capsule, and had to ensure that the MetaCork(TM) system would work without any problems for the consumers. “To date, a critical factor in Gardner“s success is its supportive partnerships with wine producers and equipment and material suppliers. We have the good fortune of being able to share our vision with some of the top names in the wine industry,” said William Borghetti, CEO of Gardner Technologies. “Take Vitro Packaging, for instance. Vitro is one of the world“s leading glass manufacturers and is at the forefront of new bottle design for the wine industry. Since no glass manufacturer had ever produced a bottle that met our unique specifications, we needed a partner who could take on such a technical challenge and work with us to ensure that quality was top notch,” Borghetti added. Even though it is very difficult to innovate in a traditional industry such as wine, customers are the ones who have the final word. “MetaCork(TM) should have great consumer appeal since it allows consumers to concentrate on enjoying the wine, rather than worrying about how to open it properly. MetaCork(TM) furthers Fetzer“s goal of creating innovative ways to improve the consumer“s wine experience,” said Doug Gillespie, Global Brand Director for Fetzer Vineyards. Lee Farlander, President of Vitro Packaging, emphasized that “Vitro Packaging“s participation in this type of project enables the company to enhance its design cabilities. Our main focus is to develop and manufacture value-added glass containers that allow us to provide our customers with the most advanced technological solutions.” “Vitro Packaging has developed what we believe is the largest selection of wine molds in the industry. Wineries now have a large selection of shapes, sizes, colors and new closure alternatives to add value to these products”. With offices in Napa, Sacramento, Dallas, Atlanta and New York, Vitro Packaging serves the U.S. in the 48 contiguous states. Its 2002 sales reached USD 209 million, accounting for 25% of Vitro“s Glass Containers business“ total sales. Thanks to the efforts of its 98 employees, Vitro Packaging continues to grow in 2003, with sales up 5.1% year to date.

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