The butterfly effect: making sustainable wines that are an affordable luxury
By New Food
11 November 2022
The wine market is one of the most competitive around, so how do you stand out in such a crowded space? New Food hears from Ari Walker, Founder of Integrated Beverage Group, to hear how his company is changing the way wine is produced – one bottle at a time.
Integrated Beverage Group’s (IBG) core mission is to change wine, and through a vigour for sustainability and transparency, it takes a novel approach to manufacturing.
Based in Dundee, Oregon, IBG uses data and science to solve real problems for both consumers and the retailers who serve them. Its core pillars include crafting the purest adult beverages on earth, providing consumer transparency and in doing so, aims to leave the world in a better place than it found it.
Replica: mastering flavour
Not only is IBG breaking ground in terms of environmental responsibility and third-party testing and certifications; the winery is also turning heads by the way it uses data and science to produce great wines – none more so than with its Replica brand. The premise of the Replica line is simple: why pay top dollar for top wine if you can get the same flavour and taste at an affordable price? Brands with the highest consumer satisfaction are those that deliver premium quality at mid-tier pricing. With current inflation at a 40-year high, consumers are forced to make trade-offs, and Replica caters to this.
Using disruptive flavour mapping technology, IBG’s Founder, Ari Walker and his team have been able to develop Chardonnays, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and a Red Blend that exhibit the most preferred flavour profiles in each varietal based on consumer preference of America’s most sought-after wines. The result: a $15 bottle of wine that tastes like a $40+ bottle of wine.
The idea, Walker explained, originated from a conversation he had with a colleague in the industry who was having difficulty meeting his customers’ demands. “Back in 2016, a good friend of mine, who is also a Master Sommelier, came to me with a problem. His customers were coming into his wine shop requesting famous Californian wines. The problem was he could not buy them from a wholesaler for less than what the major retail competitors were selling them for – so he didn’t stock them. However, he still needed to deliver for his customers.
“And so, we connected Master Sommelier, Brett Zimmerman, with our winemaker, Ed Killian to discuss the opportunity. Together, they used our data and science to deliver the flavours of America’s favourite Californian wines, including ultra-premium wines, for a price point that retails for less than $20.”
The data and science piece is very interesting. “What the lab does is provide a sort of a GPS to our wine team to help them better understand what types of oak to use to create classic profiles for example. When should that occur? At what temperature? When should the grapes be harvested? Our data helps the winemakers make these decisions.
“When it comes to blending, we can also help the winemaker ensure they’re in the right range in terms of the flavour profile that we are targeting. The lab benchmarks more than 2,000 wines, including many of America’s top selling and ultra-premium wines. We were able to give Brett and Ed the profile information that was needed in order to make the best decisions in the vineyards before they even started the winemaking process.