It’s Friday, which means many of us are just counting the minutes until happy hour. After enjoying a bottle of wine, it’s always a bit sad to dump the bottle in the recycling bin. Although there are plenty of upcycling options for wine bottles, many require a fairly large dose of creativity. Protea (PROH-tee-uh) is a new brand of wine that aims to unleash your inner upcycling genius while complementing your favorite dinner. Each Protea bottle is specifically made to be reused – for floral displays, to hold olive oil, or as a beverage container. The possibilities are practically endless!

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Protea, wine, wine bottles, South Africa, Mark Eisen, fashion designer, fashion, upcycling, recycling, creative reuse, alcohol, happy hour

Like any other wine, Protea varieties are delivered in a green glass bottle of the traditional shape. What’s not traditional is the label. Instead of a piece of paper, glued to the glass, each Protea bottle features a permanent “label” created by noted fashion designer Mark Eisen and printed directly on the glass with heavy metal-free inks. “I loved the concept of making the bottle more of an object of beauty – of adding to the body of the content of the wine,” says Eisen. “I saw it as an opportunity to tell a more complete story through art.”

Like Eisen, the grapes used to make Protea wines are from South Africa. Protea White features the underappreciated Chenin Blanc grape which delivers rich fruit and verve. “The paisley design and the Cape are historically and importantly interlinked,” Eisen says of the design he chose for the White bottle and its link to his homeland. “The paisley print was brought to Europe via South Africa by the Dutch East India Company, as traders rounded the Cape in the middle of the 17th century. That same influence of the traders resulted in the first vineyards being planted in South Africa at the same time. So there’s a very strong historical and cultural tie, and then from there I had fun. It’s a lively, bright wine and I wanted a design that captured that.”

Protea Red blends together cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz and strives for complexity and intensity that’s lacking in most nondescript table reds. “The Cape Dutch gable print represents the manor house architecture of the wine estates of the Cape,” says Eisen of the design he chose for the Red bottle. “This architecture is unique in the world to the Western Cape of South Africa, and was developed in the early days of the 17th century by the early Dutch settlers. One of the places where it has stayed on most vividly is in South Africa’s wine country, in towns like Stellenbosch.”

Although Protea is new to the U.S. market, an inside source tells Inhabitat that it will be available in Whole Foods nationwide in the next couple of months. Protea wine enthusiasts have already come up with dozens of unique ways to reuse and repurpose the empty bottles, and you’re invited to join the fun! Share pictures of your upcycling idea on their Facebook page, and it might get posted to the official website.

+Protea Wines