The Vincor-owned R.H. Phillips Winery has become the second North American winemaker this week to announce it is switching an entire line of wines to screw caps. Earlier in the week Corbon Canyon made a similar announcement.

In May, 300,000 cases of new vintage Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz, produced under its eponymous R. H. Phillips label, will be bottled with screw caps for a June 2004 release. 

The move, which represents US$18ms in sales revenue, is the biggest commitment to screw caps in the United States thus far, the company said.   

R. H. Phillips founder John Giguiere said: "The R.H. Phillips wines are estate grown, handled with care in our estate winery and beautifully packaged as our seal of quality.  And then we compromise it with cork taint.  That doesn't make sense to me."

A statement from the company said it had chosen a Torqued On Pilfer Proof (TOPP) screw cap closure, rather than the typical Rolled On Pilfer Proof (ROPP) screw cap closure, which has historically been used in the wine industry, such as with Stelvin closures.

 The TOPP closure is a sheath cap produced by Global Cap in England.  Though this type of closure has never before been used to seal wine, it is used throughout the food and beverage industry.  TOPP and ROPP are similar in that they are both screw cap closures with saranex wine-compatible liners that minimize oxidation and eliminate cork taint. 

"As their names imply, the two closures are applied to the wine bottle differently.  The R.H. Phillips sheath closure is applied to the bottle by a machine that asserts 25 pounds of torqued pressure to the cap once it is placed on the bottle.  A torqued application allows the screw cap to be released in a smooth fashion with one turn of the wrist.  The threads on a TOPP screw cap are concealed on the inside of the capsule, giving the closure an even finish.," the statement said.