Idaho winery's refill program a 'win, wine' situation

For years, Idaho winemaker Stephen Meyer has won awards with his Bistro Rouge red table wine at Pend d'Oreille Winery.

These days, his wife, Julie, is getting credit within the green community for turning a portion of the Bistro Rouge program into a recycling success.

Last year, they launched a refillable Bistro Rouge 1.5-liter bottle program to help reduce the solid waste leaving Sandpoint. Well, earlier this month, Pend d'Oreille Winery reported that its refill program has kept 7,000 pounds of green glass out of the landfill.

The Meyers refer to it as " a win — wine idea."

According to the winery, there's no glass recycling program in its portion of Idaho's Panhandle. That means Sandpoint sends its glass to an Oregon landfill.

That inspired the Meyers to offer their Bistro Rouge in a magnum format. Once emptied, the customer washes the bottle and brings it back to the winery to re-fill.

Customers buy the magnum for $25, but subsequent refills cost just $16 each time. That equates to $8 per 750-ml bottle, a 50 percent savings off the regular retail price.

Bistro Rouge traditionally is one of the best bargains in the Northwest wine industry. The 2007 vintage received a double gold medal at the 2009 Tri-Cities Wine Festival, and each of the previous six vintages earned an "Outstanding!" rating from Wine Press Northwest magazine.

"The bottles have become a symbol of local residency that people wear proudly," the winemaker said in a news release. "I love seeing our loyal customers come in for a refill, and it gives us a chance to touch base with them and to return the favor by putting a delicious wine into a reusable and sustainable container. "

This year, Pend d’Oreille Winery celebrates its 15th anniversary. And most of the grapes for their award-winning wines are grown in the Yakima Valley.