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Wine Spectator: Canned Wine Moves Up The Pricing Ladder

July 19, 2022

The canned wine market is being pulled in different directions. One way is chock full of affordable, mass-produced, widely available products of middling quality, often sharing shelf space with ready-to-drink cocktails and hard seltzers. The other, and perhaps more intriguing, path is in the premium sector—higher-priced wines made from quality grapes by well-known winemakers.

“Once people get it out of their head that there’s some issue with wine in cans, we’re going to see more wineries get into the game, and as more people get in, it buoys us all up,” said Robert Van Horne of Companion Wine Co., on which he’s partnered with winemaker Ryan Stirm. Sunny B Oliver’s Vineyard Edna Valley from Companion Wine Co. retails at $11 a 375-ml. can.

Van Horne said he targets markets and wine shops where consumers can buy canned wine without feeling embarrassed. “When you see bottles for $10, $15 and then $40, your mind, in terms of quality, is already aligning,” he said. “We are not trying to find the cheapest way to make wine in a can; we want to be the best wine in a can,” he added, pointing to a placement in Los Angeles’ Erewhon Market, an upscale health-food store, where sales are booming.

Sean Larkin of Larkin Wines is also pursuing markets that can support the slightly higher cost. “I wasn’t going after Target,” he said, noting that in Napa Valley, Oakville Grocery and Kelly’s Filling Station both carry his products. “If you walk into Oakville Grocery to get a sandwich, you’re not going to grab a bottle, but you might grab a can, and that’s what I’m going after.”

Larkin has also found a niche with custom cans, partnering with chef Thomas Keller for a line of private-label cans sold in the chef’s restaurants Ad Hoc and Bouchon. Partnerships with a high-end hotel chain are also in the works. But, of course, the quality needs to be there to target these higher-end establishments. “I’m not going to put a bad wine in a can. I can’t sell Thomas Keller garbage,” he laughed. Wine Spectator has the full story.—Aaron Romano

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