Rebel winemakers Black Elephant Vintners (BEV) are stirring things up again – in their own inimitable style – with the introduction of their wines in cans.
Wine in cans is currently seeing massive growth in the US. Between June 2017 and June 2018 sales of canned wine grew by 43% and the market is now worth R675 million*. And this upward trend doesn’t look to be slowing soon, thanks to millennials who like the more convenient packaging. It is also more economical: you don’t have to buy a whole bottle if you only want a glass.
There are now over 100 canned wine brands in the US and wine producers in Australia are also getting on board. But South African producers have been slow to follow suit mainly because they feel local wine consumers still have a conservative attitude towards new wine packaging with the perception that if it’s not in a bottle it must be of a cheaper, inferior quality.
Local wine expert Cathy Marston, says that canned wine has “huge potential to be popular in South Africa, but it will take time for everyone to get their heads around the idea.”
The team at BEV saw the potential immediately though and recently launched a Sauvignon Blanc and a Rosé in 250ml cans.
BEV MD Kevin Swart shares more…
Why wine in a can?
Why not? We see this as taking wine where bottles cannot go. Picnics, hikes, music festivals, sporting events etc. It is also a completely recyclable, sustainable and vegan-friendly product.
Does it make any difference to the wine if it’s in a can or a bottle?
Wine is for every person when they drink it. Different temperatures, glasses, storage conditions etc. so we don’t believe there is. Most people pour their wine into a glass anyway. Wine very often is made in a steel tank so why would a can change it?
Why do you think it’s taken so long for a local winery to produced canned wines?
We are very stuck in a narrative that wine comes in a bottle,. This has never been the case for beer, gin and soft drinks. It’s a perception. Kodak never though digital photography would take off, Blackberry thought we all wanted keypads on our phones and we know how those ended.
You’ve canned your white and your rosé. Any reds anytime soon?
Yes, Pinot Noir at the end of February and we are busy working on some other alternatives as well.
Could we see MCC in a can soon?
MCC requires a second fermentation in a bottle, this is not possible with a can at present. But sparkling wine, definitely.
What average length of time will wine in a can last if kept in ideal conditions?
The cans have been passed for a shelf life of 12 months, which means they need to last a minimum of 12 months, ironically there is no shelf-life test for bottles.
How are you selling it and what is the retail price?
Cases of 24 or individually but will have them in packs of four shortly. They can be purchased for R35 each from the farm.
Will this affect existing wine sales?
We don’t see this as competition to existing wine sales but opening up an area that wine in bottles doesn’t serve as well. Sports events, outdoor activities, festivals or as a single serving for when you don’t feel like opening a whole bottle.
* Elizabeth Mamacos, Business Insider SA (October 13, 2018)