BX NAPA Cork News
* * * * * * * *
* Renewable * Recyclable * Eco-friendly * Floats * Flexible * Durable *
* Water resistant * Stain resistant * Bug repellent * Lightweight *
- In Portugal, Taking a Long View on Cork
- Portugal cork exports increased in 2012
- Portuguese Cork Route
- SNL's Rob Schneider Promotes Cork
- Making Couture from Corks (BX NAPA)
* * * * * * * *
Many people don’t think much of the cork they pop from a wine bottle. But Napa resident and winemaker Bex Bishop sees big potential.Bishop has launched a line of accessories called BX NAPA Cork Couture under her wine label, BX of Napa. In doing so, she’s leveraging the benefits of a renewable material, all while featuring a unique twist on the everyday accessory, she said.
The project started as a way to market her brand, and has developed into its own business, Bishop said. Her products, including hats, purses, iPod covers and stands, pet collars, bags, ties, coin purses and other items cloaked in cork, are fire branded with BX Napa’s name. Her goal is for her products have all the luxury and style of Louis Vuitton or Coach, but with an eco-friendly flare.
“I think it’s got a cool factor in so many different kind of ways,” Bishop said.She launched Cork Couture in January at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. She continues to sell her items on her website, has spoken with several shops about carrying them and is developing a catalog.Cork is a durable, renewable, lightweight, water-resistant, stain-resistant, bug-repellent, flexible, fire-resistant and hypoallergenic material, Bishop said.
“It’s just got all these amazing qualities in one, so to me it seems, why are we not using this for everything?” she said.Cork is collected by stripping the bark off cork trees, which grows back. It is a myth that there is a shortage of cork, Bishop said. A forest fire did limit production at one point, but that was temporary, Bishop said. The cork is then put through a special heating process, which breaks down the rigid fibers in the material and gives it elasticity and flexibility, Bishop said. A light non-toxic coating is then applied to increase its water resistance and durability. Most of her products are sent directly to Bishop after they are produced in Portugal. For her purses, she found a sewing house in the United States that hand stitches them into her designs and patterns. Bishop firebrands all of her products and puts the finishing touches herself in her Napa home.
The accessories range from $20 for a coin purse or bracelet to $275 for a briefcase. The items are smooth to the touch with a mottled tan color. They hold similarities to the look of a wine cork, but with a polished gleam. Several feature woven touches or the splash of another colored material.Bishop appreciates products that are multifunctional, so she has made many of her cork accessories that way. Her belts can be worn on both sides. The iPad cover also serves as a stand. She has a bag that can work as a messenger bag, or with the straps shortened, is a fold-over purse. If the straps are taken off, it becomes a clutch.“I love art, but I only like functional art,” she said.Bishop said she has long toyed with cork as an accessory, drilling holes in her wine bottle corks and crafting them into earrings or necklaces. She even set out to make a cork-kini, a bikini made with cork.
But her interest blossomed into something more serious as she was researching options for her wine bottles in 2009. She found a pliable fabric being produced in Portugal and began to see it as a product she could use in branding her wines. In January, Bishop was asked by Sundance Film Festival organizers to pour her wines in the celebrity lounge, which featured eco-friendly brands. When Bishop mentioned the cork products, she was asked to bring them too. Bishop was amazed at the positive response she got from those who visited her table, she said. She has sold dozens of items already and is in discussion with a winery about the possibility of selling more.
For now, she is focusing on the accessories, allowing her business to grow as organically as its products are, she said. But she already has ideas for clothing items and fashion involving cork, she said. This will allow her to delve into fashion, an interest she has held since her mom and her designed and sewed her gymnastics leotards as a child, she said. Once the line begins to pick up,she said she will have more time to dream up clothing possibilities, such as a cork-kini. “I look forward to having even more fun,” she said.
Bishop’s dream is to have someone wear her cork bow tie to the Academy Awards and have a cork bikini worn in an issue of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.“A girl’s gotta have goals, you know?” she said.
Former SNL alum Rob Schnieder (and star of such horrible movies as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and The Animal) is currently starring in a campaign to draw attention to the environmental qualities of cork. Yes, the economy is hurting everyone — but as Rob says in the below video, every celebrity has a cause and this is his. We’re just pretty sure there are some heavy dollar signs behind this one.
Here’s the gist: 70% of the value associated with the world’s cork forests depends on wine stoppers, not shoes or bulletin boards or flooring tiles. As many wine-drinkers may have noticed, screw tops are becoming more popular, and as a result are starting to steal business away from cork producers.While it’s sure easier to open a bottle, the environment actually loses with this solution. Those caps are non-recyclable and take a lot more resources and energy to produce. On the other hand, cork trees are sustainable, consume more CO2 between harvests (the bark regenerates after 9 years), and are biodegradable and recyclable. Not to mention an entire industry of farms and workers (and the biosphere) depends on cork forests.
See, it’s not every day you can tell someone that Rob Schneider opened your eyes.
* * * * * * * *
By STANLEY REED, New York Times
ESTREMOZ, PORTUGAL — We spent Christmas in a cabin on a hillside in the cork oak forest that clothes much of southern and central Portugal. We hiked along streams awakened by the winter rains. After dinner we walked under shockingly bright stars, undimmed by light pollution, listening to owls and the tinkle of bells from goats.
Cork oaks, we realized, are the heart of a landscape that while extensively adapted by humans is nevertheless an ecological marvel.“The cork oak ecosystems have high biodiversity of plants and fauna — the highest in Europe and one of the highest in the world,” said Luisa Ferreira Nunes, a forestry expert at the agriculture school of the Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco in Portugal.
For centuries, cork oaks (Quercus suber) have been widely cultivated in Southern Europe and North Africa for their thick, spongy bark. They are handsome evergreen trees, often covered with silvery lichen, that resemble the live oaks in the American South.Cork oaks are well adapted to hot, dry weather. They create a rich habitat in what otherwise would be a near desert. These southern forests look somewhat austere, but they have thousands of plant species, including orchids, as well as exotic birds like hoopoes with big orange crowns, and griffon vultures.
The trees also provide well-paid work for people living on farmsteads and in scattered hilltop towns. Each of these places in the Alentejo region, like Estremoz and Elvas, has its own medieval fortress and a market square with restaurants that serve local fare like stewed pork with clams, and garlic and bread soup.Every 10 years, foresters strip off the outer layer of bark with short-handled axes. The trees are left with bare, reddish trunks where the bark was shorn...
...The once-sleepy cork industry is wising up about trumpeting its environmentally sound pedigree. Portugal’s cork exports, about 60 percent of the world trade, bounced back to more than €800 million this year and last from depressed levels during the financial crisis.
Cork is not cheap, but “if you are thinking of a sustainable material for” a high-profile building like a corporate headquarters, then cork is a good option said Rui Barreira, a forest officer for the World Wide Fund for Nature in Portugal. Amorim Group, a Portuguese company whose cork goes into 3.6 billion wine stoppers a year and other products, is seeking certification from an organization called the Forest Stewardship Council. The council’s approval signals that products come from well-managed forests. With annual sales setting records, the company is doing well from doing good.
* * * * * * * *
After nearly a decade of decline, Portugal exports of cork confirmed the trend reversal in 2012 and recorded an increase of 4% in value and 5% in real terms compared to 2011. File images from July 2012.
After a decade of decline, Portugal exports of cork confirmed the trend reversal in 2012 and recorded an increase of 4% in value and 5% in real terms compared to 2011.Reaching a maximum value of 895.9 million euros in 2001, exports of cork were decreasing to a minimum of 823.7 million in 2009 due to the threat of alternative products. Since then, the export market has been increasing.
* * * * * * * *
From the best champagne bottle stoppers to thermal and acoustic insulationFor centuries Portugal has been known for its outstanding cork, an amazing multi-purpose material, which use ranges from champagne bottle stoppers to thermal and acoustic insulation. In between we find clothes made of cork or purses or even umbrellas. It may seem strange, but the fact is that cork can be used for a variety of purposes we can’t even begin guessing. To fight the economical crisis, betting on innovation, a lot of Portuguese businessmen and women and artisans have come up with all sorts of products made of cork and the truth is cork is becoming a trend.
What is cork?Cork is a natural product; it is the bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus suber). The cork oak tree is endemic to Southwest Europe and Africa can live until around 200 years old, being first harvested at 25 years old and then in intervals of 10 to 15 years, since the bark needs to have a considerable thickness to provide a high quality cork, so it’s necessary to allow the bark to reach such thickness.
Cork is characterized for being a light, impermeable, buoyant, flexible material, which is also known for its elasticity and fire resistance. It can be used for a a variety of purposes and the the fact that it is impermeable to liquids, but also to gases and that does not absorb dust, makes it great for those of us who have allergies.
Apart from this is considered to be an environmental friendly product, after all it is 100 % natural, biodegradable, it is recyclable and it is a renewable resource.Besides the sustainability of cork production, it is important to point out that these trees also prevent desertification and are home of various endangered species. These characteristics make it even more important to keep growing, caring and harvesting the Quercus Suber.
Some locations for harvesting and production of Cork in Portugal
* * * * * * * *