Why Wine Corks Are On The Upswing

The year 2009 struck a nadir point for the cork industry. Sales of wine corks had been declining since 2000, replaced by alternative closures that included aluminum screw caps, plastics and glass. The fall of cork had been predicted multiple times in the past. In 1993, The New York Times wine writer Frank J. Prial predicted ‘1993 may see the beginning of the end of the wine bottle cork.’ In 2002, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard in California and British wine writer Jancis Robinson attended a ‘Funeral for the Cork’ service in New York City—where, over a cork constructed mannequin at a mock wake, they gave eulogies to the death of natural cork enclosures. In 2004, renowned wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr. predicted that by 2015 cork would be used to seal only a minority of wine bottles, and that screw caps would become the new industry standard.

By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, such prophecies rang prescient. The world of wine closures was shifting dramatically, and cork sales were on the decline. Not only wine closures, but the entire cork industry was threatened because bottle stoppers represent 70% of all production.

Times have changed.

‘We are in completely different territory now than anyone thought possible then,’ said Carlos de Jesus, Marketing and Communication Director for Amorim & Irmãos, the largest cork producer in Portugal and the world. ‘2008 was the toughest year ever.’

read more on forbes.com