A Can of Wine, a Loaf of Bread and You

Canned vino is gaining in popularity and improving in quality.

May 09, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—While visiting Sonoma County, Calif., Gina Schober and her husband, Jake Stover, had a brainstorm. Their wine-loving friends also enjoyed hiking, biking and boating but didn’t want to carry heavy bottles of wine on their outings. Why not put fine wine in cans?
In 2016, the pair launched the Sans Wine Company, which is dedicated to making good California wine for convenient, transportable, lightweight cans, reports The New York Times.
Many of the early canned wines were of dubious origins and pitched at people who were intimidated by wine culture. Sans offers organically grown varietal wines made as naturally as possible for people who are already sold on enjoying good wine. “Just because it’s in a can, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be good,” Schober said. “We wanted to put wines that we would want to drink in cans.”
Canned wines accounted for $70 million in retail sales in the United States over the year ending in March, according to Danny Brager, senior vice president of the Nielsen Company, which tracks sales. That’s up from $42 million in the previous year and less than $10 million three years earlier.
“Canned wines continue to grow at phenomenal levels, even accelerating into the most current periods,” he said. “At the same time, they still represent a relatively small proportion of wines, with just a 0.4% share.”
Cans have many advantages over bottles. They are portable, lightweight and can be used where glass is not appropriate, such as at pools and beaches. They are kinder to the environment than glass, easier to recycle, lighter to ship and require fewer packing materials.
“We didn’t understand how much people would love them for picnics and things,” Stuckey said. “I just did an event in a store in Boston, where commuters are buying them for their train rides. It’s on all the ferries in Seattle.”
The Sans wines come in 375-milliliter cans, about the size of a 12-ounce beer and the equivalent of a half-bottle of wine. Most canned wines are either 375 milliliters or 250 milliliters—or about the size of a can of Red Bull. While the 375s can be sold individually, the U.S. government prohibits individual sales of the 250-milliliter cans, requiring that they be sold in four-packs.
The Sans Wine founders say their product is intended for wine geeks, the people who care that the wines are fermented with indigenous yeast rather than inoculated with commercial yeast. They are currently available in many parts of the country.