Trending: Wine in a Can

A Western Michigan winery serves their summer wine in convenient packaging
Photograph courtesy of Fenn Valley Vineyards

It was bound to happen eventually. Yes, wine in a can is here.

Meet Vino Blanco from Fenn Valley Vineyards in western Michigan. It is a fresh fruity crisp summer-ish wine, designed as much for convenience as it is to appeal for its unusual “conveyance,” the lowly pop-top soda can.

Fenn Valley Vineyards Vice President Brian Lesperance says that the can is filled with the winery’s already popular Seyval Blanc, a widely distributed summer white.

The initial target audience is the vacation traffic: boaters, swimmers, family pool action — all those places where glass containers have traditionally been considered a danger. Beyond which Fenn Valley expects Vino Blanco will become another wine staple by catching on with an even wider audience of wine drinkers.

Seyval Blanc grapes produce a crisp, bright, somewhat sharp, and refreshing wine, which, in the case of Vino Blanco, Fenn Valley has made theirs in the style of the light, slightly green-tinted Portuguese white Vinho Verde, or green wine. To some, it also reflects somewhat in weight and style the French Loire Valley whites such as Muscadet, but with a different flavor.

Fenn Valley’s can wine can hold 375 milliliters, which translates to about two and a half glasses of wine. It is available widely across Michigan, wherever Fenn Valley wines are sold, as well as in the bordering areas of Indiana and in northern Illinois.

In addition to convenience for summer, Lesperance says his company is attempting to catch a new wave with this wine. “Within the last year, we have noticed a tremendous increase in canned wine, both in terms of production and customer requests … we knew we needed to jump on this trend.”

This prompted Fenn Valley to add a new canning line. Fenn Valley already offers all types of production services to other wineries across the region, with custom production of ciders, fruit juices, and other liquid consumer products.

Nationally, according to Market Watch, the canned wine industry is shooting upward and now sits around $28 million dollars a year.

Putting wines in something other than glass bottles — including box and bag wines — is nothing new. Though in modern times there have been several novelty efforts, most have not lasted. The most traditional variation away from glass is the clay pot-style, such as the Portuguese Mateus wine.

In the 1980s, in an entirely different effort, the E. & J. Gallo Co. created a new line of fruit flavor-infused wines in beer bottles called Bartles & Jaymes. This inspired the myth that there actually were two old coots with those names who had invented the fruity wine product.

Gallo gave the sludgy fruit wines such names as Fuzzy Navel, Exotic Berry, Margarita, Piña Colada, Strawberry Margarita, Pomegranate Raspberry, and Body Shot Lime. They then found two guys to play the roles of old Bartles and James, sat them on a wooden country store step to talk about their wines — about which they seemed pretty clueless. It was a brilliant piece to television advertising and sold millions of bottles of the Kool Aid-like wines.

There is no suggestion that Fenn Valley has any such plan for promoting Vinho Verde. Thankfully.