Winery on wrong side of EU over fruit liqueur bottle sizes

04 April, 2008

Producer faces £30,000 bill to make switch to regulation 35cl containers

The EU has ordered a producer of English wines, meads and fruit liqueurs to change the size of the glass bottles it uses .

Jerry Schooler, owner of Lurgashall Winery in West Sussex, said it could cost up to £30,000 to ensure he has the right size bottles for his fruit liqueurs after Trading Standards told him he should be using 35cl bottles instead of the 37.5cl bottles he currently favours. But he is hoping to find a way to avoid the bill.

He said: "It's crazy. We are fruit liqueur producers. We make honey meads and country wines - we don't produce wine, so it's hard to see how this is a problem.

"It's not only the bottles we have to change, but the labels, the boxes, the size of the corks and we even have to change the bottling machines."

Schooler, who set up the business 24 years ago, makes 28 products and sells more than 400,000 bottles a year.

He said the shortage of glass bottles was the reason behind the problem.

"As everyone knows there has been a global bottle shortage. When we were ­allocated bottles in January prices were up 30% and we had to get these ones because there was nothing else," he said.

Schooler is hoping he might be given a reprieve after receiving a call from an EU minister who said the problem would be investigated. However, he is busy finding a solution in the interim to avoid the hefty bill and continue supplying his customers, who include Fortnum & Mason and English Heritage shops.

He said: "We are researching and trying to find the best solution so we can continue to produce and sell our products to our customers."

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