Clif Bar & Company is known for its energy gels and namesake bars. But alcoholic beverages? A division of the company, run by husband and wife co-owners Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford, grows and sources grapes in Napa Valley and produces a line of red and white wines under the guise of the Clif Family Winery.
This spring, the Clif winery has a new offering made to appeal to oenophiles headed into the outdoors. The winery's Climber Pouch varietals, a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon, come in strong-sided and backpack-friendly pouches. There is a hole on top made for clipping the pouch in with a carabiner.
The packaging, made by a company called AstraPouch Inc., is environmentally smart and convenient for taking camping or backpacking. Unlike a glass bottle, the pouch cannot easily break. It is lighter weight than glass.
After it's open, the pouch, which has no cork, is simple to reseal. There's a small button to push on the pour valve; press it to let the wine flow, and release the button to seal the container closed.
Clif cites that wine will stay fresh for up to one month after the valve is first opened. Another bonus: Once done with the wine, a camper can roll up the pouch and pack it away -- no empty bottles to tote along down the trail.
On the sustainability side, Clif touts an "80 percent lower carbon footprint" and significantly less waste generated than the two glass bottles that the 1.5-liter Climber Pouch replaces.
Cost of the Climber Pouch (www.climberpouch.com) wine is $16.99 for either the red or the white, both of which -- in my admittedly somewhat uncultured opinion -- are great. Don't ask me to get into adjectives and tasting descriptors. But Clif cites its white as a "crisp, unoaked Chardonnay" with flavors of grapefruit, melon and apple. The red is advertised as "juicy" and "alive with blackberry jam, plum and black currant flavors."
For me, the Clif vino was not just mediocre but good wine. The price is fair. And the pouch container is a deal-maker for anyone who wants to bring a couple "bottles" on a trip into the great outdoors.
--Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie.