By Christine Salins.
Mike Davies has been in the wine industry for more than 40 years as both a winemaker and a packaging specialist. He made wine at numerous high-profile wineries before establishing Sandstone Wines in Western Australia’s Margaret River.
In 1989, he founded Portavin, which grew to become Australia’s largest independent wine packaging business before he sold it in 2017.
Coming across Wine Australia data which indicated that roughly 86% of wines are designed to be consumed on purchase, he got to thinking about why glass — which was originally for cellaring purposes – was still the most common packaging format.
And thus, a new business was born. Greenskin Wine comes in a 750ml soft pouch that is unbreakable, quick to chill, resealable, easy to transport, compact and completely recyclable.
According to Greenskin’s co-founder and marketer, Kim McKee, “it’s designed to make enjoying quality wine in the great outdoors easier, faster and lighter in every way”.
Davies is passionate about wine, the environment and leading an active, outdoor lifestyle, and with that, he recognised the market’s unmet demand for premium wine to be packaged into a 750ml format that was not only lightweight, compact and unbreakable but also more sustainable than glass.
Launching Greenskin in 2021, he says, has given Aussies something that solves a problem for them (and him), all while reducing the overall environmental impact and increasing the sustainability of the wine industry as a whole.
The soft pouches are re-sealable, making it easier to drink in moderation (McKee says they are finding that the wine stays fresh for at least three weeks after opening). Initial offerings include a range of whites, reds, and Rosé from Western Australia’s Margaret River and Great Southern wine regions.
In a wine industry first, they are also 100% recyclable. Every six-pack comes with a pre-paid mailer bag so that consumers can return their empty pouches for free.
Not only does the pouch take 80% less energy to produce than a bottle, but a full pouch is less than 60% of the weight and volume of a traditional glass bottle. (According to Davies, a truckload of empty Greenskin pouches is equivalent to 26 trucks of empty glass bottles.)
Greenskin’s innovative approach was recently recognized at the Packwine Design Awards, taking out the Best Alternative / Sustainable Package Design Award and the People’s Choice Award.
Greenskin 2021 Sauvignon Blanc: As well as the packaging, the quality of the wine sets Greenskin apart from most of its competitors. Davies purposely selects high-quality small parcels of wine from respected producers. That’s evident in this elegant, vegan wine made by Margaret River winery, McHenry Hohnen. Judicious use of French oak softens the flinty, tropical fruit characters, giving the wine a lovely silkiness. Crisp and refreshing, perfect for alfresco entertaining.
Greenskin 2020 Chardonnay: The provenance of all the Greenskin wines is clearly identified, with a QR code on every pouch providing details about the winery, winemaker and vintage. The Chardonnay is the only one where the QR code didn’t work for me, most likely because it has been superseded by the 2021 vintage. A note accompanying the 6-pack indicated that because it is a new product, the producers are being conservative in applying a ‘best before’ date of 18 months from the time of bagging. All indications are, however, that the wines will remain fresh way beyond that. This 2020 Chardonnay is testament to that. With a ‘best before’ date of October 2022, we found it to be still very fresh with subtle pear, peach and melon notes, restrained oak and a hint of vanilla.
Greenskin 2021 Rosé: A lovely pale pink colour with attractive floral aromas, medium weight and a refreshing crisp acidity. Very dry with a little flinty earthiness. Winemaker Severine Logan from Calneggia Family Vineyards in Margaret River has remained true to the region by using a large portion (41%) of flagship variety Cabernet Sauvignon, along with Shiraz, Tempranillo and Malbec.
Greenskin 2020 Pinot Noir: Pinot thrives in the Great Southern region of WA where this wine comes from. Winemaker Chris Murtha from Plantagenet Wines has produced a classy wine with bright cherry, plum and berry flavours, nicely integrated oak and some savoury earthiness.
Greenskin 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon: A beautifully concentrated and enticing Cabernet from Calneggia Family Vineyards in Margaret River. Raspberry and blackberry notes with an olive-like earthiness, fine tannins and hints of mint and chocolate.
Greenskin 2019 Syrah / Shiraz: A lush, opulent, full-bodied red from McHenry Hohnen, whose winemaker Japo Dalli Cani took inspiration from France’s Rhone Valley by co-fermenting a touch of Roussanne with it, adding some floral aromatics and minerality. Sweet/spicy notes and a nice long savoury finish.