Glass bottle shortage shatters plans for Napa Valley vintners; supply chain issues to blame

ByCornell Barnard via KGO logo
Saturday, November 13, 2021
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A worldwide shortage of glass bottles has given Napa Valley wineries challenges they never could have imagined.

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- COVID-19 related supply chain issues are creating a nightmare scenario for many aspects of our Bay Area economy including winemaking.

A worldwide shortage of glass bottles has given Napa Valley wineries challenges they never could have imagined.

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"It's really hard to find glass right now," said Juan Alfaro.

Alfaro spent all day trying to find something which used to be plentiful in the Napa Valley, glass bottles. He needs them for his winery and his brother's olive oil company. Luckily he just scored ten cases of small bottles at a supply store.

"We got lucky, found bottles and this is what I'm taking," he added.

"Oh my goodness, bottles are a darned issue this year," said Ben Jaynes.

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Jaynes manages Napa Fermentation Supplies. He says he's never seen anything like it, glass bottles becoming almost impossible to find due to COVID-19 related supply chain issues. Shipments of traditional 750-milliliter wine bottles, mostly manufactured in China are now delayed for months.

"We've had an increase in calls from commercial wineries needing to buy bottles from us because they can't get bottles anywhere else," Jaynes added.

New bottle inventory is sold before it even arrives.

At V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, production on a new brandy line has been halted because the unique bottle is lost in transit.

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"We were told they would be here in August, then September and October but now it's January," said V. Sattui Director of Winemaking, Brooks Painter.

The winery has 2021 Chardonnay fermenting in oak barrels which needs to be bottled by May 2022 but the bottles may not arrive until July.

"You have to be flexible, do the best you can," Painter added.

But wineries have seasonal schedules and need to make room for the next harvest. Wineries will pivot like they did with wildfires and COVID but it could be a long wait for bottles to arrive.

I've heard it could be years before the supply chain issue gets fixed," Jaynes says.