Wine In A can? Seattle Company Thinks Outside The Wine Box

By Janet I. Tu
The Seattle Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) For women in business with a focus on the beverage industry you probably already know about wine in a can…..and soon, it looks like the rest of us will know about it too! In the last year or so, it turns out that people have started to get away from the idea that good wine must be sipped from a stemmed wineglass.  Instead, they are increasingly turning to more convenient and portable options. First the box…now a can. What’s next?????

The Seattle Times

First, we got used to wine bottles with screw caps. Then sales of boxed wines soared. Now comes the increasingly popular wine in a can.

When did canned wine become a thing?

In the last year or two, it turns out. As people have started to get away from the idea that good wine must come from a glass bottle and be sipped from a stemmed wineglass, they are increasingly turning to more convenient and portable options.

Taking advantage of the trend is Seattle-based Precept Wine, one of the state’s largest private wine companies, whose West Side Wine Co. canned wine hits the shelves of Whole Foods Markets and some airport eateries this week.

Its chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon in a can sells for $4.99 each or $15.99 for a four-pack. It’s using California wine because California is still the best-selling domestic wine region.

“Wine has become more of an everyday household drink rather than a special-occasion drink,” said Alex Evans, chief marketing officer of Precept Wine. “We want to see people increase the occasions when they drink wine.”

Wine in a can, though still a niche product, is the fastest-growing type of packaging for wine, according to Nielsen data provided by Precept Wine. Sales in U.S. stores came to $3.5 million for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 27, representing a 426 percent rise from a year ago, according to that data. That’s still small compared with the $6.5 billion of wine sold in glass bottles — a rise of 5.8 percent — during that same period.

While canned wines have been around for years, they’ve not been hugely popular. But fueled by canned wines from the likes of Tualatin, Ore.-based Union Wine Co.’s Underwood label and Denver’s The Infinite Monkey Theorem, the category really emerged in the last couple of years.

It took off in the spring and summer of 2015 “because it’s convenient, portable and cost-effective,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage analyst with The NPD Group. “You can take canned wines where you may not be able to take bottled wine, like to the beach and other outdoor activities.”

Canned wine is “especially appealing to men who consider it to be somewhat ‘beer-like’ and manly, but women are drinking canned wine, too,” Seifer said.

Indeed, some canned wines already seem to be targeting different demographics. There’s a Mancan for wine bros, for instance.
Precept said its canned wine is designed to appeal toward those who already drink wine frequently and “want to have the ability to drink good wine in all different settings.”

Whole Foods is gung-ho on the idea of canned wine, having carried the Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s canned Sofia sparkling wine for about a decade.

But canned alcoholic beverages really began taking off in the last five years, said Devon Broglie, Whole Foods’ master sommelier and global beverage buyer.

The company is selling West Side Wine Co.’s products, along with canned wines from other companies, in all its locations that sell wine.

Customers now are more concerned about the quality of the wine inside the vessel rather than the vessel itself, he said. And people’s lifestyles are more casual these days.

“The wine industry has been looking for years for a suitable single-serve option with wine,” he said. “There have been many attempts, including single serving little plastic wine-glass-looking things and pouches. Every other attempt seems forced. … But with a can, if I can have a single serving in an easily portable manner and it’s high quality, then why would I muck around with a bottle and a corkscrew and a glass?”

Starting this week, HMSHost, which runs restaurants and eateries in airports across the country, is also selling West Side Wine Co. canned wines in its counter-service and grab-and-go eateries in seven airports (not including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport).

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