Most of us assume wine that comes in a box can’t be good. But Marcus Radny, director of Gonzo Vino Wines and a self-described wine nerd, is here to change that perception.
The 29-year-old winemaker is focused on creating the most sustainable wine he can make. That means sourcing grapes from chemical-free, low-impact farms, using minimal intervention winemaking techniques, and selling the final product in large format, 100 per cent recyclable packaging. The result? Actually-good cask wine that’s environmentally friendly. And it’s still cheap.
Although they have a romance to them, glass wine bottles are extremely problematic, according to Radny. The bottles are imported from France or China, covered in non-recyclable plastic-backed labels, and then there is the high cost and emissions involved in shipping these heavy, breakable containers where they need to go.
Gonzo Wines, on the other hand, come in supersized three-litre casks which are completely recyclable, lighter and more compact. That means the cost of packaging and shipping is reduced (as well as the emissions), and the savings can be passed onto the consumer. A GVW cask costs $60 but contains the equivalent of four bottles. And this is good-quality vino we’re talking, not the goon you drank when you couldn’t afford anything better.
The cask has other benefits, too. It keeps the wine for six weeks after opening, a shelf-life that’s unheard of with bottles. And it looks good. Gonzo’s branding is fun, leaning into the good-time associations that we have with boxed wine and large format containers. This can still be a wine for a crowd, just a little more grown-up; it’s party-sized, but more dinner than frat.
The boxes are also printed with meme-y, tongue in cheek one-liners such as “Welcome to adulthood, I hope you like wine” and “I’m turning into my mother”. The irreverence counterbalances the idea that fine wine is a highbrow and expensive pursuit, a concept Radny is allergic to despite being an industry insider (he was the head sommelier at Vue de Monde for four years and has worked as a winemaker in the Mornington Peninsula and Germany).
“Gonzo Vino is aimed squarely at anyone who has ever been made to feel awkward or stupid around wine. It’s a brand that takes shots at the big producers for being pretentious, elitist and making people of my generation feel cheap for buying economical wine,” he says.
“I feel it’s important to bring affordable, delicious wines in a kooky package to the masses. If you’re 18 and want to drink epic wine for not much money, or you’re 85 and want to bring a great boxed wine to share with the 15 grandkids, this is the brand for you.”
Though Radny aims for broad appeal, the ethos of this brand is undoubtedly millennial: sustainable, affordable, well-designed, high quality and accessible. There’s no esoteric jargon and your choices are simple: red (shiraz) or white (riesling). This year’s harvest came from Bendigo, but next year Radny is aiming to expand, sourcing grapes from responsible growers in VIC and SA. He’ll be producing up to eight wines, and promises that there will be some lesser-known and quirky varietals in the mix.
Gonzo Vino's 2020 shiraz and riesling casks are currently available for pre-order online, to ship in mid-October.