If you’ve been to the beer aisle of your local grocery store lately, chances are you’ve noticed a strange outlier lurking nearby: wine, in a can.
Surely a horror for wine purists, but at least one couple native to Cincinnati is betting wine in a can will appeal to the on-the-go, environmentally conscious, not-at-all-pretentious millennial.
“Wine is perceived as being complex and expensive and intimidating,” says Angela Allison, who is CEO of the recently launched subscription box WineSociety, while husband Austin serves as co-founder and chairman. “We want people to feel confident in their wine choices and let them know that wine doesn’t have to be intimidating and complex.”
Lest you think wine in a can is some passing fad, Austin equates canned wine to the explosion of canned craft beer. “Six years ago, less than five percent of all craft beer sales were in cans, because people in the industry perceived glass to be a superior vessel,” he explains. “Now, about 30 percent of craft beer sales happen in cans. The canned wine industry, independent of WineSociety, is blowing up. If you fast-forward five or six years from now, canned wine sales are going to represent 20-plus percent of the category. It's a big stake.”
And he should know. In 2009, Austin founded Dotloop, a software company that allows real estate documents to be shared and revised in real time. It was acquired by Zillow for $108 million in 2015, so it’s safe to say the guy knows a thing or two about what people want.
The idea for WineSociety stemmed from the couple’s then-frequent travels to California. (They now spilt their time between San Francisco and Cincinnati.) Napa Valley was just one stop, though Angela admits neither really enjoyed wine at that point. The friendly, communal experience they had in the tasting room changed both their minds.
“We like to simplify complex things,” Austin explains. “That’s what triggered the original idea for Dotloop. We saw the same opportunity in the wine industry.”
Here’s how WineSociety works:
- First go online to pick the wine(s) you want to try, all purveyed from Napa Valley vineyards the Allisons spent a year researching
- Next, chose your subscription option (every one, two, or three months, or make a one-time purchase)
- Then chose a delivery time when you know someone age 21 or older will be home to sign for it (legalities and all that)
- Once it’s 5 p.m.—and remember it’s always 5 p.m. somewhere—crack open a can and enjoy
“With our product, we wanted to create that really premium, relatable experience (that you’d have in a tasting room),” Angela says. “So instead of pairing wine with, say, food, we pair it with your lifestyle, things people can really relate to in their everyday life, just to show that wine can be enjoyed just as you enjoy a beer or a cocktail.”
That means you won’t find any haughty mention of “notes” or “flavor complexes;” nor will you be forced to act like you know how to pronounce “petit syrah” in front of your drinking companion. Instead you get cans of wine in fun packaging and with playful names like “Tempt,” (a not-too-sweet, not-too-dry red blend) and “Chance” (a rosé that blends fruit and crispness). You’ll also get instructions on how to enjoy each wine. “Perfectly blended for laid back brunches, sunshine afternoons, long laughs, and good stories,” reads the instructions on “Fate,” a light and crisp white.
At 500 ML, the cans are meant for sharing, and amount to roughly four 4-ounce pours.
It all costs $129 per case. Nine cans are included in a case. That ends up being roughly $3.50 per pour. Plus, shipping is free.
WineSociety is currently available in 40 states and will also be available in retail stores in California as well as here in the Greater Cincinnati area this fall.
“We haven’t announced the specific partners yet—you’ll hear more about that in a couple of months,” Austin says. “But we’ve identified the store in the two places we call home—Cincinnati and California—and those are the two places where our products are going to be available first on retail shelves.”
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Learn more about how WineSociety works on the company's website, and get an idea of all the fun that awaits once you sign up by clicking through the photos above.