Story by: Amanda Luciano
Photos by: Tanya Martineau
That bottle of wine you finished at a Colorado Springs restaurant this weekend could be a sipping glass in Dubai within a few weeks. Not as an amalgamation with dozens of other bottles melted together in a recycling plant and reformed again inside a glass factory. No, your actual wine bottle—simply and elegantly relieved of its top third, toasted for endurance, boxed, and sent straight away to its new home.
Wine Punts, founded in 2006 in Colorado Springs, has simplified the recycling process while creating something distinct and beautiful. The company gets its name from the inverse indentation on the bottom of traditional wine bottles. The company started when Joe Saliba needed a project for a class at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. His wife’s grandfather had come home from a ski trip in Utah, where he saw drinking glasses made from the bottoms of wine bottles. Joe bought a kit and made one himself. “I remember having it in my hands and thinking, ‘People will probably buy this,’ ” he said.
Joe created a website. It wasn’t an elaborate site, but somehow, people found it. Joe quickly had to find a way to make the glasses faster. “My dad is really good with his hands, and he knows tools,” Joe said. His father, also named Joe Saliba, set up a shop in his Westside garage, and the two made glasses from recycled bottles and shipped them out.
The business has tripled in production every year since. Daily shipments go all over the world—some to individuals and many to wholesale accounts with retailers like Williams-Sonoma and Tommy Bahama. All of the bottles still come from local restaurants, from which they’re collected weekly. The products—which have expanded beyond drinking glasses to include items like candles, wind chimes, and pendant lights—are appealing to two customers: People and businesses who appreciate the environmental impact of creative recycling efforts, as well as wine-lovers who love the idea of using wine bottles for other uses.
Wine Punts moved into a lofty warehouse on the southwest side of downtown Colorado Springs about 5 years ago. Joe’s father tinkers with bottles, perfecting some of the new items Wine Punts recently added to its website. He also transforms wine bottle tops into wind chimes, candle holders, and growing bottles for herbs. Jacob Ellis—a former co-worker in the oil and gas industry and long-time fly-fishing buddy of Joe—is managing the business operations.
What doesn’t become a salable product is always recycled, but the company is working hard to find ways to use every part of the bottle. The crew of 8 employees now makes sea glass and coasters from compressed wine bottle tops. “We’re recycling hundreds of thousands of bottles,” Ellis said. “It’s fascinating to think of where they came from and where they’ll end up.”
30 W. Las Vegas St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903