An Oregon winery is trying a unique approach to packaging and selling wine: pinot noir in more humble, aluminium cans. Forget uncorking heavy bottles, pouring wine into clumsy goblets and swirling glasses to aerate the fancy stuff. Just pop open like a canned brew and enjoy. If you're feeling classy, reach for a glass.
The Union Wine Co. has created pinot in a can, which retails for around $6 each, and $24 for a four-pack, available on its website. The canned pinot noir is available in stores in eight U.S. markets, including New York-New Jersey, and the winery hopes to expand to 16 markets by next year.
"We're certainly focused on keeping it real and removing the pretense that surrounds wine," said Ryan Harms, owner and winemaker of the Union Wine Co. The winery is based in Tualatin, Oregon, roughly 30 minutes outside Portland. "While all that ceremony may be good and attract a group of consumers, it can be off-putting and can keep new consumers from entering the wine category."
Of course quality grapes and taste matter. But in an extremely crowded U.S. market of domestic and imported choices, packaging can help attract consumers' attention. There's already wine and spirits in pouches, which can be frozen. Wine experts and materials engineers devote entire conferences to wine packaging topics, such as sustainable packaging options.
The U.S. wine industry alone has some 7,760 wineries. And about 90 percent of domestic wine volume is produced by the top 30 wineries, said Cyril Penn, editor of Wine Business Monthly. That means if you're a smaller producer, it's harder to get noticed and grow market share.
"There's so much competition," Penn said.