Why the Top of Your Bottle Matters with Heather Polick of ACIC Cork and Closures

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Aug 19, 2021

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Last Updated on August 19, 2021 by rise25

Heather Polick

Heather Polick is the National Sales Consultant at ACIC Cork and Closures, a company that provides customers in the wine, spirits, and food industries with the highest quality standard closures. Heather’s passion has always been people, sunshine, and wine, and she has worked in the beverage and food industries for over a decade.

Before joining ACIC, Heather was a Winemaking Assistant at RUMPUS Cellars and S.P. Drummer and a Wine and Spirits Consultant at Opici Wines.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Heather Polick explains how she got into the wine and spirits space and what she admires most about the industry
  • The pandemic’s impact on the wine and spirits industry and how brands quickly adapted
  • Heather explains the benefits of Vinoseal for closures
  • Heather’s role at ACIC and how the business has evolved over the past year 
  • Some of the new initiatives that are occurring for sustainable cork production
  • How to find the right cork or closure for your bottle
  • Heather discusses eco-friendly cork trees and how they are harvested
  • How can you decide between a cork or a screw top?
  • The rising popularity of custom-made closures and how the marketing behind corks and closures has evolved
  • Heather and Drew discuss their favorite spirits and beverages

In this episode with Heather Polick

Are you a wine and spirits company looking to make a change to your boring bottle design? If so, a new cork or closure may be just what you’re looking for. Whether you’re in the market for an eco-friendly cork or a custom-made closure, Heather Polick is the one to talk to.

Heather Polick is the National Sales Consultant at ACIC Cork and Closures, where she provides customers in the wine, spirits, and food industries with a variety of high-quality closures. Heather is passionate about helping customers find exactly what they’re looking for in order to create bottles that stand out from the competition. Today, she’s here to tell you all about the wonderful world of cork — and give you some beverage recommendations along the way.

On this episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks talks with Heather Polick, the National Sales Consultant at ACIC Cork and Closures, about the benefits of a high-quality closure for your bottles. They discuss the importance of sustainable cork production, the camaraderie in the wine and spirits industry, how to find the right cork or closure for your brand, and much more. Stay tuned. 

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.

Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.

So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!

To learn more, visit barrelsahead.com or email us at hello@barrelsahead.com to schedule a strategy call.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft Podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, with your host Drew Thomas Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  0:19  

Drew Thomas Hendricks here I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft Podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, from winery owners like Mark Hansen of Bricoleur Vineyard, who created a holistic plant to plate wine tasting experience for his visitors. Today’s guests Heather Polick enables wineries to draw the perfect balance between cost and quality when deciding on a closure for their wine. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we work with you to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy when the highlights your authenticity, tells your story and connects you with your ideal customers. In short, if you’re a business looking to retain a winery or craft beverage producer as a client Barrels Ahead, we’ll figure out a plan to make it happen. Go to barrelsahead.com today to learn more. Now before I introduce today’s guest, I want to give a big thank you to Sarah Moll from Vin Social. On last week’s show, Sara and I talked about her journey from fashion to becoming a certified sommelier to being the founder of in social a virtual Wine and Spirits experience platform. Sara gives some great advice for wineries looking to level up their own virtual wine tasting experiences. Check out that episode to learn more. I am super excited to talk with today’s guests Heather Polick from ACIC Cork and Closures. Now I have to say I always ask the guests to write a couple sentences to introduce themselves. And Heather has written the best intro I’ve read. And I hope I don’t screw it up. I couldn’t change anything. It’s fantastic. So let’s see if I can do this. Heather is an East Coast born and raised jersey girl who has been rocking out to all things Wine and Spirits for over a decade. The past seven years she’s called sunny Sonoma home. Heather’s roles have covered the gamut in the wine industry. From dragging a bag into liquor stores, to writing wine lists at the finest Italian eateries in New Jersey, to her current role as a cork toting tin slinging hot shot with the National Sales territory. Heather says her passion has always been about people sunshine and wine. In her current gig. She gets a good slug of all three on the daily. Welcome to the show, Heather. 

Heather Polick  2:16  

Thanks, Drew. I appreciate it. You did pretty good there. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  2:20  

Oh, thank you. So tell us a little bit about how you got into the industry.

Heather Polick  2:27  

Oh, I think it’s similar to a lot of other people’s stories, you kind of trip and fall right into a vat of wine or spirits usually come with a background of something completely different. And then find that drinking wine or spirits is way more fun than what you’re doing. And you want to get into it more and integrate it into your daily life.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  2:49  

What was your what were your previous background?

Heather Polick  2:51  

Well, I went to school for nutrition and I usually sat bedside and hospitals telling people not to drink. And so here I am. But yeah, I went to school for nutrition and really loved it thought that that was going to be the long term thing for me. And as it as it just turned out, it wasn’t and through a couple job changes. I was offered a job working for a distributor, a PG family distributing, which turned out to be about four years of, like I said, pulling a bag and liquor stores and working with owners and bartenders with or drink special lists on the bar and writing wine lists. So that was great. And I really enjoyed it so much. I want a couple trips out to the west coast for selling wine and the month the Mondavi profile and some constellation brands and really enjoyed it. I remember calling my mom probably after many wine tastings and telling her I think I might not come back Mom, I love it out here. And actually it happened so I came out here because I wanted to touch it I wanted to not only drag it in a bag but I wanted to learn everything that I could about it from you know making it to running a tasting room which is what I did on the downtown cinema Plaza and really fell in love with that and so I’ve had multiple opportunities pop up along the way and I landed a job in the supplier side and I’ve been doing this for just about five years now and really enjoying the supplier side because I get to work with both the spirit side as well as the wine side. Even some olive oil and food products know anything we could put a cork in basically.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  4:39  

That’s great what what excited you best about the industry like, aside from all the rich stories and everything for me. For me I have a similar background where I graduated a degree in philosophy and attic Greek be a philosopher but instead ended up drinking wine, which I think might be similar.

Heather Polick  4:57  

Well, I mean, we tend to have pretty in depth conversation. When we’re drinking wine, so it ties in, right. Um, you know, it’s the passion. It’s the passion that people have in this industry, whether on the wine or the spirits side, they really love what they do. And so what I said about people and working with people, and why I love it so much is that every conversation that I have, wine or spirits is so deeply entwined in these people’s lives, their businesses, they eat, drink, and sleep, their their business, and it’s their passion. And so it’s not just something that’s a nine to five job where they, you know, punch their ticket and call it a night, it’s something completely different. And that is why I love it. And there’s a lot of camaraderie, camaraderie in the industries as well. And you know, it’s not just, I’m gonna keep my successes to myself, people share what’s worked for them, and what hasn’t. And so there’s an incredible network of people that you can call if you want to get into the business, or if you’re struggling with a certain part of the business, whether it’s direct selling, and, you know, obviously, there was something that a lot of people had to jump into quick with the pandemic last year, and we had to make a lot of changes. And I think that because of the incredible network that exists, this web of entrepreneurs as well, as experts, you know, everybody is willing to offer, what’s worked, what hasn’t, and an offer help as far as how to deal with the government, and you know, things like that, you know, really, really important things to what should I have in my tasting room? What classes do I use, and you can get these answers from people in the industry, they want to help and they want to share. So it’s the passion really, that I love, and it is addicting.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  6:41  

Oh, I get it, I get it. I love it was that almost exactly this time last year where we were thrown into this pandemic. And I agree, I could not believe the camaraderie that I saw. Among all the agencies on both the supply side and the direct consumer side, everybody was just kind of banding together and helping helping wineries and helping people together to just figure out how to do business online. Because a lot of them were flirting with the idea of doing business online and marketing online, but no one really kind of new How are they always thought they should do their emails, and there was a slew of free training and a slew of just free help out there to help people jumpstart and get moving.

Heather Polick  7:16  

Yeah, it’s the dream of any business owner, either on the spirit side or on the winery side, you know, to sell every bottle by hand and not use. And so you know, if you did have a shopping cart, and a great, you know, direct customer shipping, you know, set up whether Wine Club, or spirits club, or just a member club, or a great website, or an Instagram presence, or whatever it is, if that existed prior to the pandemic, most of those people did not, you know, struggle as other people did, you know, that depended on a tasting room, or a walk in experience, where they literally were left with no way to sell their product. So I know that that was a big struggle, you know, for a lot of people last year, and you see it in some of the accounts that I have people that, you know, literally did not call for six months, and normally I talked to them monthly. But a lot of I think, you know, a year is a long time, and people did have the time to kind of get with it, and either decide for it or decide against it. And whatever decision they made was because of friends and recommendations of you know how to make it happen. Because there’s a lot of red tape, as we know, which is important in the wine and spirits industry because it is, you know, alcohol and you know, shipping to states and licenses are so much stuff that needed to be done in order to sell. And not to mention all of the distilleries that switched their, their programming to like hand sanitizer. And so, you know, we got a lot of calls for Can you put cork in hand and hand sanitizer and a bottle together? Um, you know, can we put a screw cap on it? And then what kind of bottles can we get our hands on? To put the hand sanitizer in so questions that you don’t even think about?

Drew Thomas Hendricks  9:06  

Find the answer Can you can you put a cork in a hand sanitizer?

Heather Polick  9:09  

You can’t, you can’t. So you only want to put a cork in a bottle with alcohol. Olive oil is one of those exceptions and balsamic but other than that we worry about bacterial growth, and so-

Drew Thomas Hendricks  9:27  

And so it’s counterintuitive right? Create bacteria growth.

Heather Polick  9:32  

We want to make sure that there’s alcohol in the bottle and there are alternatives obviously we have synthetic Shanks. Oh yeah. With with bar tops as well as you know screw caps and other options for you know, other products that people want and we do, including Vinoseal, actually. Do you know what Vinoseal is Drew?

Drew Thomas Hendricks  9:53  

I do not know what Vinoseal is. 

Heather Polick  9:55  

Okay well have two kids so you have something on your desk, too. Look at the next slide. I apologize it and do that in advance, but it’s a glass closure. And they actually are produced in the Czech Republic. So the cleanest glass in the world, or the cleanest sand in the world comes from that location about an hour outside of Prague. And they can’t have lead in them because they come in contact with food. So they aren’t like the most beautiful chandelier is but the glass, the same sand is used sans the lead. So we close bottles, so spirits, as well as wine bottles in vino seal, it’s very elegant looking closure, it could be customized to the max, or we have stocks that are just black or clear or rose colored. And they do this nice little pop action. And they’re gorgeous. You know, you can keep them in forever and reuse them. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  10:51  

You know what I did have a bottle of wine that had a glass closure, and I thought it was amazing. Overlook Cellars up in Spokane, Washington.

Heather Polick  10:59  

Uh huh. Yeah, they are. They’re a credible addition to our line. We started selling them about a year and a half ago. And so we’re really pushing them into the market and people are having a lot of fun with them.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  11:13  

That’s amazing. That’s great. Let’s step back for a second and tell me a little bit about ACIC and your role there.

Heather Polick  11:18  

Sure. So ACIC Cork and Closures, is basically a distributor of two manufacturers that we can offer the best of all worlds, for wine and spirits. And so our manufacturers are both located in Portugal and right down the street from one another, which makes it great for us because we get about four containers a week up to Napa, and to our warehouse. So we have a constant flow of product coming in both stock and customs are cork supplier is the best, literally the best in the world. It’s a family owned business of 150 years. And they again eat sleep and breathe cork. So it’s incredible to represent a core company that can offer us the best r&d that the world has to offer. Literally, they’re making leaps and bounds every year to do better, to be greener. And to do more research on how to make cork better and cleaner. And we have extremely competitive prices. And then the capsule and screw cap supplier is again, a family owned business of 80 plus years, they’ve been doing tin capsules poly lamb, poly tin, PVC, screw caps, for both wine and spirits, as well as olive oil, you know, pourers and things like that. And so they’re worldwide, you know, think of, you know, your favorite Irish Whiskey, You know, it probably has a tin capsule from them. So being able to support two great family owned businesses is really great, because even though both of them are a decent size, you get to deal with me, you don’t have to go through a large company, you don’t feel like you are just being shifted. If you’re not, you know, an extremely large winery or a very, very large distillery, you get me on the other side of the phone, on the other side of an email on the other side of a text however you like to do business. And so it’s an incredibly personal and personable. So you tell me, you know what you want, what you need, you know what your aspirations are, we can, you know, send you a stock tin or screw cap, or we can make it your own, we can make it neon pink, and you know, put an embossed heart on the top. And, you know, whatever it is you imagine to be your branding and we can make it happen. Same thing with cork, you know, we do all the printing here in Napa. And so we can laser. It can be fire branded, you know, there’s lots of options. And so to work with to great manufacturers makes ACIC who we are. And we basically are driven by customer service. And now that I’m back on the road, I’m coming to a state near you.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  14:17  

So it’s fantastic. Yeah, well, last year was all virtual, all virtual exactly how I’ve got I’ve got so many questions about the course. But I still got to ask about how the last year How did your business evolve? And how did you guys adapt? And is it did anything stick that you see? It’s going to be moving forward as we move into 21, 22?

Heather Polick  14:38  

Sure. New is something that was pretty interesting that I noticed on Instagram and Facebook was all of these winemakers and wineries doing these live tastings. I think that they are so great because you know a lot of a lot of people come to wine country to taste wine, or a lot of people do the distillery trail and Kentucky to taste bourbon and There’s no reason that these things can’t be done, you know, online or a mix of them. I mean, I would say get a group of friends together, but we’re still kind of slowly getting out of the COVID thing, but you know it open up a bottle and taste it and have the winemaker tell you, you know, how it was made, you know, everything about the vineyard and the the production and the time the barrel, or you know, the same thing for spirit and to sit there and hear them and tasted at the same time, despite the fact that we couldn’t get on an airplane or get in a car meet with a group of friends for a bachelor or bachelorette party, we got to do those things. And I think that that’s what made us so great in this industry, because we kept going forward, and we so greatly adapt to all the limitations that were thrown at us. And so, basically, so did we, as a supplier, you know, trade shows is a great way to socialize and find new friends, literally, to work with, and colleagues and partners. And so since we weren’t able to do that we were able to do some of the trade shows which there is a huge lacking the reason that we love trade shows is because we can sit at the bar. You know,

Drew Thomas Hendricks  16:14  

And we just came off of a series of about four that we usually used to have one every year. And then virtually but, you know, I learned a lot but at what it had didn’t have the same camaraderie.

Heather Polick  16:25  

No. And really, that’s what brings in our industry, the trade shows such great success is because we are the people that represent a brand or a product, and it’s standing in front of someone showing them the product talking about it. Some of the some of the talks and the trade shows are great to listen to when we talk about, you know, sustainability or government, you know, regulations and things like that those we can listen to and hear a speaker and they can be quite profound in the choices that we make. But when it comes to a new bond, or working with a new supplier or getting someone business giving them your annual needs for cork, sometimes meeting the person and and being in front of them and be able to have you know, eye contact and to laugh and to take a walk and to talk about what’s possible. What’s not. Sometimes that magic really happens when you’re in the same room. But I did have success because I had been traveling so much in the past and I had been to so many trade shows. But I do lend my success of the last year of selling to have connected so many people that all of those people were digging through their Rolodexes because we couldn’t have the trade shows and we weren’t on the road traveling. And so I think that that’s definitely helped us as a company. Because we’ve had a lot of phone calls that were Hey, do you have this? I know we haven’t worked together, but can you send me a sample?

Drew Thomas Hendricks  17:53  

That’s great, it kind of opened up a channel of communication, because people expected that in person experience, and he had to do it. Now they realize that you can jump on a zoom call. And you can do a little bit of fun thing. And it kind of brought that. For me it brought the old guard into like the digital air a little bit.

Heather Polick  18:10  

It forced us in whether we wanted to or not. And actually my boss did a really great job of getting us on the zoom calls connected and as a team together, and that was something that we definitely missed, we would always get to the office once a month for a team meeting where we get together and, and share, you know, struggles and successes and look at numbers, of course, you know, the usual boring sales stuff. But you know, when you have a team and you have support, it really makes a difference. So we were able to kind of do that on the zoom. And I probably am talking 20 times better than I would have prior because I’m used to these things now.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  18:48  

No, I think we all we all got used to him. Yeah, moving. Moving back to cork, you mentioned that some of those family owned cork producers now you don’t normally think of something that’s been around for hundreds of years. Common closure, having new technology or new green initiatives, what are some of these new new initiatives that they’re that’s happening over there in Portugal.

Heather Polick  19:07  

So basically, as you all know, there are some volatile compounds and all flavorings that can occur that we want to avoid when we are putting cork into our wines and spirits. And so there are new cleaning technologies that allow the cork to maintain their incredible sealing abilities while they’re in the bottle. And so you know, if you are to boil a cork and hope that everything bad is going to come out of it. At some point you are going to destroy the chemical structure of what makes cork so great. You might be able to take all of the bad stuff out but you’re also going to do nature, the incredible sponginess you may say that creates that steel inside the bottle. And so basically it’s a mixture of a lot of time, money. And effort. And basically by the start of last year, we were able to now say that we can offer natural forks that offer an almost never existing tcaa level, I mean, under phenomenal, yeah, under 1% is probably close to the number just Not to mention, you know, exact facts, but the cleanliness is so high, you know, let’s say 99%, that it’s going to be incredibly neutral. And so for a producer, that’s going to make a bottle of wine that is very expensive. The goal is for that bottle of wine to show great and exactly how they intend it to the customer. And so when we can offer this product, across all of our natural corpse, there’s an additional process that they can pay for, in addition to this cleaning process that offers an actual guarantee on top of it, there’s so many options, even down to technical corks, there’s a different process that we’re using for those as well that offers get again that that extra security blanket that we’ve been looking for. And so what’s great about this is unlike a lot of our competitors, we don’t use plastic. The reason is, is you know, we represent a core company, and we do cork so you don’t have to take cork out of the equation, we add cork for the guarantee. And we don’t add plastic, you know, the more we move into sustainable as you mentioned earlier, and, you know, single use plastics is is exactly what we we don’t really stand for. As as we are, you know, selling cork, we want cork to be better and better and not looking for alternatives.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  21:50  

That’s amazing. So just to put it into perspective, from my from my history back when I first started selling wine in the early 90s. We would sell a lot of high end Burgundy’s. Okay, we, I would commonly tell tell customers, and this was 30 years ago, at that time, it was common that 5% of the burgundy bottles were cork, that’s a big change since then. And I used to actually have myself say this to somebody, that’s the cost of doing business if you’re buying Burgundy, but that’s changed. So if you’re buying burgundy today, you’re not experiencing that. 

Heather Polick  22:18  

Yeah, you know, we’re really in a totally different world. And there are so many options out there available. And it’s asking the questions to your suppliers. And it’s making sure that whatever they are guaranteeing or whatever they offering that they are standing behind, you know, what they are offering, and to make sure that they are doing the the homework and the research. And if you find that, you know, you’re struggling with TCPA there are options out there, that, you know, we can talk about, and we can understand, you know why you’re having issues at the end of the day, volatile compounds tcaa, they’re never gonna go away. They exist as an organic compound in nature. You know, they’re in wood products, such as barrels and pallets, and they’re in our vegetables, like carrots and potatoes. You know, sometimes you get produced and you smell it, you’re like, Huh, what is that? And so the goal is to always do better, it’s never gonna go away. 100% but we do want that 5% that you were mentioning before to be a lot less. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  23:23  

And that is, a lot less less than 1%. That’s, I mean, you know, less than one bottle out of 100 you know, these bottles propellant? 

Heather Polick  23:31  

Yeah, I think they say less than 30% of people can actually sense these compounds anyway, which is great. But at the end of the day, we always want the wine to show and the end spirits as well, to show what they’re supposed to be like. And so, yeah.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  23:50  

I’m very, very perceptive toTCA and I can tell you that 30 to 40% of the people working in wine tasting rooms can’t taste TCA. 

Heather Polick  23:50  

Yeah, it’s definitely part part of it. You know, and it’s interesting when you go to a restaurant and you know, some of the things have changed. I don’t know if they’re doing it because of COVID or not, but I went to a restaurant recently and the sommelier opened the bottle at the bar and I happen to me too, I’m like what the heck. Maybe you and I are getting old and we’re out of the loop but I mean I love when the bottle is Open Table. You can talk with him and you can watch him open the bottle and force them and then he left the cork at the counter. So I had to ask for the cork because obviously I’m cork obsessed. Right? And you know you want to take a look at the cork and not necessarily smell it. But it’s the it’s part of the romance you know of our industry. And as I said

Drew Thomas Hendricks  24:45  

You want to feel if it is it springy I mean yeah, I mean you want to take up the sides.

Heather Polick  24:50  

There’s a lot of things you can tell exactly. You want to see what the what the producers using even the capsules so he toward the capsule off without allowing Nice to see it. And I mean, that’s half of me going out to dinner is my r&d. So can I call this producer? Can I sell him tin? Can I offer him corks? Can we have a conversation about you know why he’s using a technical cork versus a natural for why someone might use a 49 millimeter cork versus 54. If it’s a really expensive bottle, talk about how, you know speaking of Burgundy’s when there’s more longer cork, there’s more aging capacity. Cork is made of, at minimum 70% of oxygen, basically, the cellular structure of cork is made of oxygen. So the idea of micro oxygenation, the longer the time, the cork is in the bottle, and the longer the cork, the longer aging capacity, the more chemical interactions, the more the wine can evolve and adapt over time. And we can’t have those conversations if we can’t see the cork and Exactly. So anyway, those are some things that go through my mind when I’m when I’m thinking about what my customers are doing, why they’re doing them, and what can I do to help?

Drew Thomas Hendricks  24:50  

That’s fantastic. Back to sustainability. Okay, can you share with us with our listeners a little bit about the because a cork tree is entirely regenerating and sustainable. And one of the most eco friendly things you’re going to find. Can you talk to us about that?

Heather Polick  26:22  

It is, you know, you hear often that there is a Giving Tree. And I actually think that in whether it’s the Bible or whether it’s you know, storybooks that that we read, The Giving Tree is actually the cork tree. So the cork tree is an oak tree, actually, Quercus Suber is its name. And so these trees live two to 300 years. And actually, when we harvest them, it in, it allows them to live longer. And so, cork is harvested. And, you know, well, after year one, year two, year three, year four, we don’t actually start using the cork from harvested cork trees until around you’re between 30 and 40 years of age. And so if you plant a cork tree right now, somewhere in Portugal or in the Mediterranean, your family might be able to sell, maybe your grandkids will benefit from it most. But we harvest every nine years. And basically, when the cork is harvested, or how it’s harvested is it’s harvested in late summer, here, you know, similar to our harvest here, and it is hands done with an axe. And so it’s an incredibly skilled labor. And if you go too deep with the axe, you actually scarring the next layer of what will be cork. And so it’s all done by hand. And there really aren’t cork forests per se. It does, it does exist. But a lot of the core trees that are harvested are from people’s properties. And so every nine years, there’s a harvest and you could potentially, you know, get a check. And so when the trees are actually harvested and naked, they have the potential to absorb more co2 from the atmosphere in our environment. And so back to The Giving Tree conversation. Not only does it give us this incredible stopper that is the top of the cork food chain, which is cork that goes into wine and spirits and food products, but it’s also used for so many other things.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  28:35  

I’m standing on the cork floor right now.

Heather Polick  28:37  

There you go. So it’s a great insulator as far as temperature as well as you know for your knees. It is a great question. It’s also not flammable so when cork is ground up, we can sell it and have contracts with people like NASA to line spaceships because it’s not flammable and it’s also an incredible insulator. So cork is used more than you know I mean, you’ve seen the shoes and the purses. Which are fun, but it has a lot a lot of uses more more than you think outside of wine and spirits.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  29:15  

That’s amazing. For for winery deciding between a cork and a you know a screw top closure or that glass clap. What’s the best use case for each in your opinion? Or how do you guys how do you guide a winery through or spirits producer through this journey of closures?

Heather Polick  29:30  

Sure. Basically everybody comes into the game with a vision and sometimes the vision is really strong and sometimes we’re able to understand what they really want. And you know when you look at the cogs of a program or the the price of everything you have to think about the price of a label on the price of a glass bottle. Are you bottling at your own facility Are you hand bottling to you know, are you at this huge you know bottling facility where They do the glass and the labels and everything for you, are they making that decision for you, you know, sometimes people come to me and they make all these decisions, and then they find a bottle or and they find out that they can’t buy it for me because they’re buying a one stop solution from the supplier or from the bottling facility. And so then I go after the bottling facility at that point. It’s understanding what they really want, you know, cost is something that usually comes last. Unfortunately, it should come first. Because sometimes we come up with this incredible bar top for this, you know, bottle of bourbon, that’s only going to be 20 bucks, and the top can be $5 a piece, and then we have to do a little backtracking. But it’s understanding what they really want, you know what their vision is, if they have an incredibly green vision, we’re going to look at a couple options. But we’re not going to look at a screw cap, because we all know that mining or out of the mountain side is not incredibly green, it is an option. You know, it’s a, it’s an inexpensive option. But you can get a 10 cent cork, and you can get a 10 cent screw cap. Another Green option, you know, is the vino seal, because glass is sand. And so you know, it is it’s a it’s another green option. So it depends what they want, you know, some people are going naked, you know, no tops, no capsules on the top of their wine.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  31:22  

That’s taken a little bit of getting used to it. Yeah, we’re getting more and more of those bottles. And at first I thought something’s missing. And now I’m kind of used to it. But

Heather Polick  31:30  

Yeah, it’s, um, there’s a look to it, you know, and people have this vision. And of course, you know, my goal is to sell you what you want. And I have capsules, but if you choose not go with capsules, because you don’t want to be so green, then let’s make a good green cork decision. Go with a full natural cork and the price point that makes sense for your bottle. And so yeah, it’s it’s all about the story, the vision, you know, what they, what they want, what they’re looking for, where they’re trying to go, and we have it all.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  32:02  

That’s amazing. And we were talking about the custom markup closures, so you can design the the look and feel of the actual top you’d mentioned an embossed heart.

Heather Polick  32:14  

Yeah. So um, you know, when we think of bottles, you know, spirit bottles, we think of that typical brown wood with a natural or micro agglomerated shank. And so, you know, wood connected to wood ceiling, great bottle of whiskey or bourbon from your favorite distiller in Kentucky, or really anywhere in the states these days. Everybody’s kind of coming out with incredible, you know, vodkas and rums and gins. So you have lots of local options as well. But yeah, it’s the sky’s the limit, again, you know, metal, metal tops, or, you know, plastic top we can throw a weight into, and it feels like a metal top, you know, right, when it comes to wood, we can make any shape that you want, it doesn’t have to be the standard, you know, round diameter that sits flush to the top of the bottle, we can make it like a doorknob, we can we can make a heart shape, obviously, everything has a cost to it. But you don’t have to have the standard. You know, it’s whatever you can think of we will you know, draw it up, we have an entire team that works on creating new innovations. We have Scratch and sniff tops, we have drawers with…

Drew Thomas Hendricks  33:33  

Tell me a little bit more about the scratch and sniff tops.

Heather Polick  33:36  

I mean, if you want your it’s like the old snick stickers, right are those markers that we were all sniffing as children that they took off the market, but it was the blueberry marker was blue, right? Strawberry marker was red. Um, the same thing here so we can create a scratch and sniff on the top of the bar top. So when you’re at the liquor store, you can actually have a scratch and sniff preview of what’s in the bottle.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  34:05  

That’s great. Yeah, I mean, one more just step in enhancing that sensory experience.

Heather Polick  34:10  

Exactly. And there’s there’s a botanical toppers, it’s a it’s a bar top with basically an open cavity where you can throw in some juniper berries, etc. And so you know, sealed with a PVC capsule so you can see it and all customizable with colors and shapes and sizes. Again, you know, any material you want something ceramics, something in cement, you know, anything you can think of we can make it happen with a nice timeline brought to you by containers moving slow across the ocean.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  34:45  

I get that. So that’s so amazing. So bringing in the whole marketing angle of it thinking beyond just the the closure but the part above the closure and the ceiling on it. That’s been happening. How do you How have you seen that evolve? For the last few years, and where do you see it going?

Heather Polick  35:02  

Well, there’s, there’s always a huge need for stocks. And we have an incredible amount of stocks, you know, available at any given time, you know, and there’s usually a standard, there’s a couple sizes that fit most spirits. And wine bottles, some people are putting whiskey and wine barrel wine bottles, but there’s a standard of sizes. And so those are held as stock. So usually, when a customer first finds us or, you know, we talked to them, we get them started off and starting to bottle in a standard. And then we kind of move into the custom or if they’re still on the paperwork phase of the business, we can usually, you know, have a top close to, you know, when they’re opening and sometimes we’re waiting for the glass and sometimes you’re waiting for the bar top, but excuse me, the goal is to, you know, get you exactly what you want. But if you need to bottle right now, that’s what stocks are for. And they’re the typical blonde or brown or black would with a shank, you know, to seal the bottle and get you on your feet. And then when you get your reserves, you know, five years down the road for the barrels that have been sitting and waiting. And the angel has been taking half of that gorgeous brown liquor inside, we can get you into that custom, you know, pink heart shaped bar top with sparkles on it, if that’s you know, what you’re going for. But yes, guys the limit on that and, you know, happy to figure out what what the next new thing is with you.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  36:31  

Oh, that’s awesome. So when you’re when the day is over, what have you been drinking lately? 

Heather Polick  36:36  

Ah, I drink too much. Don’t tell my mother. Same here. Um, you know, I love a good Pinot Noir. It’s just for me. It’s it’s red wine, which, you know, I have to just go back to my roots. There’s good benefits heart health benefits of red wine. And so Pino is right right down the middle of the road. I don’t actually have to be eating dinner. I could chill it if I wanted to. If it’s a little hotter out and so that’s…

Drew Thomas Hendricks  37:11  

That’s a great summer tip. Chill your pinots. You should be chilling them anyways.

Heather Polick  37:14  

You can chill any of your reds. Exactly as you should be anyway. Um, and of course I’m a gin and tonics kind of girl. So if you start the I mean, a lot of my friends used to laugh at me and call me grandma. We were at the bars in college, and no one was drinking gin anymore. And I’m pretty sure the gin market is, you know, off the hook these days. And there’s…

Drew Thomas Hendricks  37:36  

What’s your favorite gin now?

Heather Polick  37:37  

Um, you know, Old habits die hard. I love Hendrix. It’s just been one of those. But there’s lots and 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  37:44  

I’m partial to that, too. That’s my aim. And it’s still the same. Yeah, I’m not getting any revenue on it. 

Heather Polick  37:50  

No. Maybe we’ll see if we can do something about that. Local options now. Do you know anyone? 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  37:56  

That’s great. The local ones? You know, I’m not the biggest gin person. I do. I do like I do like a Hendrix. Okay, but I need to experience more because there’s so many just variety of botanicals. I’m more of a bourbon guy. Okay, my, that’s my spirit of choice that I use. 

Heather Polick  38:13  

Okay, who is it these days that you’re drinking? 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  38:15  

You know what I’m loving Malahat they’re a local craft distillery down here in San Diego. Okay, you’re doing some tremendous, awesome collaboration with some of the local breweries. Now they’ll take the barrels that were aged in, they’ll have the brewery age, their IPA and one of their barrels. And then they will take that IPA h barrel and age the whiskey in it, which gives us a sense of it. And then they did this one with a honey. So there’s this hotel downtown that has a beehive on the top. And they made a bourbon finished or it was aged in a honey barrel. It has a just a note of honey on it, but it’s completely dry. So that you get local ones.

Heather Polick  38:54  

That sounds great. Yeah, I’m looking to get back to Kentucky soon to see what’s new over there. But it seems that distilleries are popping up all around us. And there’s no reason that we can’t find something local to support and do business with too.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  39:15  

Absolutely. So think about the industry. Who do you admire most in industry right now? 

Heather Polick  39:20  

Oh, I knew you’re gonna ask me that Drew. I should have been more prepared. You know, who I admire? I admire all the business owners. And that might be a cheap way out of this.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  39:31  

Absolutely not given that given what we went through over the last year. That is a great shout out. 

Heather Polick  39:36  

I do. I, You know, to shut to have your door shut for an entire year and especially here in California. It broke my heart every day that you know, I couldn’t, I couldn’t really help. And by selling and by, you know, doing work with my partners, but jumping on the phone and talking with them and seeing how some of them were able to transition into the hand sanitizer. And just being able to get them on the phone and talk about, we’re moving into the next, you know, realm of this and we’re able to open our doors or we’re able to start doing outdoor tastings. I really, my heart goes out to each and every person in this industry that persevered and push through. And that probably has a big hole in their pocketbook right now. But because of their passion and love, they’re still here with us and all of us drinkers out there. We appreciate everything that you do. And, you know, all the power to them.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  40:32  

Great call. Great, great call a shout out to the resilience of the industry. I love it. Much, much needed much more. So where can people find out about more about you and ACIC?

Heather Polick  40:44  

Oh, well, we have a Instagram page and a Facebook page that we try to put some cool and fun things of what we see and what we’re doing and some of our partners as well as our website ACICclosures.com you can see my mug up there. Hopefully we get that pictures change soon. And but yeah, you know, you can give me a call a text, email, whatever works. And we look forward to you know, any of the projects that we can help you with and the conversations in the future.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  41:17  

Awesome. All right, Heather, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Heather Polick  41:20  

Thanks for having me. Drew. This was fun. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  41:22  

Awesome. Have a great day. 

Heather Polick  41:24  

You too. Take care. 

Outro  41:31  

Thanks for listening to the Legends Behind the Craft Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.