Wine Kegs & Tap Systems

Wines dispensed from stainless steel kegs seems to conjure up images of "wine-in-the-box", but the tide is changing in how wineries and restauranteurs are viewing the benefits of "kegging up" versus "bottling up". Putting wines in kegs is not a new concept. European countries such as England have incorporated keg systems in tavern and restaurant settings for years. Actually, the wine industry can learn a lot about cost effectiveness and efficiency at the point of pour. Draft beer programs have always surpassed traditional "by-the-glass" wine programs for less product loss and better pour margins.


"Direct-To-Consumer" Benefits:

Vintners in the premier growing regions of the United States including California, Oregon, Washington and New York State are starting to take note of the cost savings of rerouting some of the juice for keg service. It's all about "Moving the Juice" during these hard economic times! The on-premise restaurant or wine bar guest will be hard pressed to tell the difference between a new release wine being poured off from the bottle versus dispensed from a stainless steel tank. Here's an opportunity to have access to better quality fruit to showcase by the taste, glass or carafe. More than ever, reserve boutique wines need to be better promoted in the extremely competitive 3-tier distribution system. Wineries realize the importance in "direct-to-consumer" relationships, and I don't know a more creative way to get the juice out there than tapping from the source without the bottle being part of the equation.

On a production level, kegs can flat out cut a wineries' packaging costs (bottle, cork or stelvin closure, labels, bottling and warehousing). The savings are passed to the consumer. On average, a glass pour can be priced 25-40% less than traditional bottle service. In California, many noted producers are loosing wine glass placements because of inflated prices. Alternative packaging and vessels like the traditional Cornelius Keg will enable establishments to pour better quality wines that might of never been showcased by an on-premise account.

Whose Pouring?

Certain noted eateries are receiving excellent press for incorporating house wines and other pours on tap. A list of notable mentions are: Father's Office (LA), Two Urban Licks (Atlanta), Oxbow

Wine Merchant (Napa), Carneros Inn and Slanted Door's- Out The Door-Bush St. Noted producers like Core Wine Co., Flowers, HdV, Lioco, Melville, Palmina, Scholium Project, Sutton Cellars and Teira are gracing the draft lists. The number of wineries committed to a keg programs will increase twofold starting with the 2009 harvest that will be kegged up as early as March 2010.


The Future:

The next decade will lead way to many wine packaging innovations, but the traditional stainless steel keg in 5 gal. and 15.5 gal. sizes will revive a slumping boutique wine industry, and this is not a fad. Kegs may not be the ultimate vessel in the future in lieu of eco-packs hitting the market, but the movement will enable producers to re-evaluate how wine is packaged, and research more effective ways to market their wines to gain increased profitability in the years to come. Presently, draft wine out of kegs are delivering promising results in restaurants. But, the real challenge lies in the boutique market being able to market their wines on a retail level with a container that falls between a standard 750ml and 3 liter size. A movement for a series of urban dispensaries or filling stations similar to what you can find throughout France, Italy and Spain is on the horizon. Fill up, pay by volume, and the ability to re-use your container is not too far-fetched, and long overdue in the metropolitan areas that are in relatively close proximity to vineyards and urban wineries.


Why opt for kegging vs. bottling?


  • Eco friendly Wineries and consumers can lessen the carbon footprint.

Omit the traditional cork closures. Save a habitat and save a cork tree!Wineries can cut their production costs nearly 50%.

  • An average of $20-$40 can be saved per case when omitting the glass, closure, foil, label and bottling.
  • Kegs are reusable, and with proper cleaning and basic maintenance, a keg can last for at least 5 years.
  • No need to be concerned with cork taint.
  • Oxidation is drastically reduced, limiting the amount of waste.
  • Nitrogen or Argon gas keeps the wine fresh at all times.
  • Investing in new kegs can pay for itself after 3 to 4 refills.
Reach out to Vinogrape Consulting & Productions to learn more about the process.  We can recommend a draft system that will fit your budget and bar layout. We have a preferred list of recommended wineries already "kegging up"various varietal or blend options at numerous wholesale price points . Seeking out a unique customized house pour? Vinogrape can help!


Let the quality juice flow! Tap, dispense and pour your way to better domestic wines by the glass!


Taste well, 


Neil Mechanic

Founder of Vinogrape Consulting & Productions and "Tapped"