I’ve filled my share of growlers with craft beer, straight from the microbrewer’s tap. But a refillable wine growler? Never heard of such a thing, until I wander into Merry Cellars, a winery in Pullman, Washington, of all places.
Their splendid wines are made on the premises from grapes grown mostly in central Washington. You can buy regular bottles of their vintages, just like any winery. But over on the side of the tasting room are a few beer-style taps. What the hell?
Actually, it’s just like a beer growler. You take your empty glass bottle—in this case a 1.5-litre, magnum size—and fill/refill it with wine. What a concept! In the western U.S., Washington and Oregon now allow such “transgressions”.
A refillable growler doesn’t do much good if you’re a tourist passing through. But if you’re a local, the benefits are obvious: reusing instead of recycling glass bottles, getting cheaper prices. As a Merry club member, my resident cousin gets a substantial discount on her refills, paying perhaps $30 for her magnums, or about $15 per normal-sized bottle.
Like a beer growler, a wine growler should be consumed within a few days of it being opened… not that it’s usually a problem. The bigger challenge may be overcoming the mythology and mystique of the corked bottle, allowed to age in situ. The wine growler brings the esteemed grape down to the level of the bourgeois barley.
Having sampled a magnum or two of Merry Cellar’s stellar Silhouette red blend, poured from a big glass, refillable bottle, all I can say is this: Bring it on.
1300 NE Henley, Pullman, Washington
Monday to Saturday noon-6 pm. Closed Sunday.