Although most wines and spirits sold at the SAQ are bottled by the producer and shipped from their country of origin, there are many products – some of our best-sellers, no less – that are shipped in bulk and bottled in Quebec before being distributed to various SAQ locations and grocery stores. An approach the state company is proud to promote and highlight, as it significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and creates jobs.
Many products that are much appreciated by Quebec consumers are bottled here rather than at the estate. Quality-wise, the result is essentially the same: the bottling technologies and processes are as vigorous in Quebec plants as they are in international bottling plants. "During blind tests, consumers can’t tell the difference as to whether or not a given wine was bottled here or not," says Christian M. Pilon, Director of Social Responsibility at the Société des alcools du Québec. Bulk transportation can even have some qualitative benefits, given that a single container of several thousands of litres is potentially less sensitive to varying temperatures and other stresses associated with transportation.
A positive approach
Transporting wine in large cisterns that hold several thousands of litres (instead of thousands of glass bottles), helps reduce the weight of the cargo by nearly half. “With certain conditions1, this type of approach helps reduce impacts on the environment by 10 to 20%,” explains Pilon.
In his opinion, bottling in Quebec is part of a series of measures aimed at minimizing the SAQ’s environmental impact. In fact, this practice supports a local circular industry for glass, starting with recovery and recycling. Next, new bottles are made and used in the food industry, thus reducing their environmental footprint.
1 According to a 2011 study on life cycle by the Centre international de référence sur le cycle de vie des produits, procédés et services (CIRAIG), local bottling of wine imported in bulk is an alternative solution to traditional importation and in some cases can help reduce the environmental footprint of products sold in Quebec. Specifically, and as long as the glass bottles have the same mass, the importation of bottles from the New World and their bottling in Quebec reduce environmental impacts by 10 to 20%.
These products generate major benefits for Quebec’s economy, as the entire final assembly, preparation, labelling, and bottling processes are all performed locally.
In the past, having the wine bottled at the estate was a way of guaranteeing the product’s origin and the fact that no one had altered or replaced the product from a renowned estate. In the current wine market, there are now many other ways to ensure the origin and traceability of the products.
Being open to locally bottled products is also a question of habit. In regions like Scandinavian countries or the United Kingdom a good portion of wines sold locally are bottled locally. There too, several very popular products are bottled locally… Cheers to the local economy!