Bottle and can shortages stymie La Crosse area wineries, breweries

LA CROSSE and TREMPEALEAU, Wis. (WKBT) — Another supply chain bottleneck is affecting local beer and wine makers.

Shortages of glass bottles and aluminum cans are felt nationwide — raising prices and stifling production.

From vineyard to table, Elmaro Vineyard in Trempealeau takes pride in its acres of grapes.

“The romance of it is fun, seeing the people — I enjoy seeing people. The guests, the people that play musical instruments here. It’s fun. That part’s fun,” said Lynita Delaney, the vineyard’s owner.

But the bottle shortage is upsetting the usual flow.

“Every day can be a challenge, which is normal for this business. It’s not unusual for it to be a challenge. It’s just adding more weight,” Delaney said.

Competition for the vineyard’s main supplier in Mexico and shipping backups have raised bottle prices and made it tougher for small wineries such as Elmaro to keep up.

“Every winery in the world is feeling the shortage,” Delaney said. “I don’t believe it’s just us. We feel it rather hard because we’re a small winery in the full winery’s picture.”

Glass bottles aren’t the only product coming up short.

The Pearl Street Brewery in La Crosse is running short on cans.

“Last year, we got a canning line in 2020, and that was right around the time the aluminum shortage happened,” said Joe Katchever, Pearl Street Brewery founder.

That shortage made Katchever’s supplier unable to fulfill its canning contract.

“The cans we are able to source are all very high quality, just as good, but they’re coming from overseas, as opposed to domestic cans. So it’s really hard to find American-made cans, which we would prefer to use,” Katchever said.

Pearl Street Brewery isn’t alone.

Prices and pressure on suppliers along the chain are rising.

As the shortage goes on, it can be hard for wineries and breweries to look to the future.

“The real issue here is the unknowns. Not knowing what the future looks like,” Katchever said.

In the meantime, the Pearl Street Brewery is sharing can shipments with other local breweries.