After 125 years, most of the oldest people in the world – and even some institutions and businesses – slow down a bit, but not Meier’s Beverage Group. Established in 1890 in Silverton, Ohio, as Meier’s Wine Cellars – 10 miles north of Cincinnati – Meier’s Beverage Group is the oldest and largest wine producer in the state of Ohio. But for years, it has been much more, not only producing its own lines of craft wine, juice, cider and spirits, but also specializing in market entry strategy and product creation for various players in the ever-growing craft beverage industry.
“Meier’s tenure in the wine and spirits markets has given us a great deal of experience in the rise and fall of different industry trends,” President Paul Lux points out. “Meier’s has seen brands succeed and fail, and our ability to remain agile has really been one of our keys to success. Part of staying agile has been our ability to redefine what industry we play a role in. If you look at our history, we started as a winery, and then during Prohibition we launched a series of non-alcoholic juices.”
After Prohibition ended, Meier’s resumed wine production and expanded over the years into the variety of beverages it produces now, along with consulting and bottling. About three years ago, the company entered the craft spirits market.
“The trend is a movement toward specialized products that accent their locale, heritage and craft nature,” Lux says. “Our business involves leveraging our expertise in the wine, spirits and specialty beverage industries. We do so by creating and marketing a niche product segment, as well as assisting other craft companies in product creation and market entry.”
“The core of what we do is working on that contract side and helping other people to achieve their goals using a combination of their strengths as well as those of Meier’s,” he emphasizes. “It also allows us to expand our focus to include a broad spectrum of different types of projects. The one thing that we really look for in customers is people who are looking to differentiate themselves in the market.”
Lux explains that Meier’s Beverage Group’s batching and bottling processes are truly craft. “That sets us apart from the high-volume packaging facilities,” he says. “Quality and uniqueness are characteristic of craft winemaking. Our staff applies that mindset to every product they make.”
Meier’s Beverage Group has more than 1.9 million gallons of tank space on its 6.5-acre, eight-building campus in Silverton. It houses three bottling lines in approximately 160,000 square feet of indoor space. “The main building – which is the epicenter of the facility – is the original winery that was built in 1890,” Lux notes. “We still have and utilize our original wine caves built into the foundation of the central building in 1890. We age anything from whiskey to port, sherry and other various dessert wines, as well as other barrel-aged projects we are working on.”
Lux estimates that 50 to 60 percent of Meier’s production is for private-label customers or under contract. The company can fill up to 19 different sizes and seven different types of bottles at its facility.
“The way our operation is structured allows us to take a new brand that is relatively small and run it on our slower, more customizable and accommodative lines,” Lux explains. “As the volume grows, we can grow with it and move it to one of our higher-speed lines. As far as bottle shapes or sizes, we work with ovular, square, round, short, tall – all of them.”
Meier’s Beverage Group can produce volumes as small as 100 or 200 cases for a pilot run to more than 2,000 to 3,000 cases a day. “On our high-speed line, we can carbonate, pasteurize, pressure-fill and place one of three different-style caps,” Lux says. The company can apply labels ranging from small to full 360-degree wraps, source materials such as labels, caps and glass and even help formulate products.
“We really pride ourselves on being versatile enough to compete on any level upstream from sales, whether it be from concept to product creation,” Lux concludes. “I see a lot of people coming to market with wonderful, unique products who are looking for a partner with expertise in the various areas of our business, ranging from blending through bottling to contract packing. We’re happy to fill that niche.”