Without a canning line on-site at his central Pennsylvania Susquehanna River Valley winery, Chuck Zaleski trucked his Pinot Grigio from Fero Winery to be canned in Virginia.
The effort and time are worth it, especially for the unique can design that Fero used and the marketing and sales advantage it can have.
“I’m a Perrier drinker, that’s where I stole the can idea the size, it’s a 250 milliliter can,” said Zaleski, who spoke to a group of journalists during the annual Camp Pennawine which was put on by the Pennsylvania Winery Association in late September. “I just think it’s a little more elegant and sleek looking, my wife wouldn’t let me put wine in a beer can anyway. That would be totally off-limits.”
Selling the cans is a challenge as it’s not allowed to be sold online for DTC sales and instead only for sale in the home state as the TTB does not allow it nationally.
“It’s a third of a bottle. So it’s a healthy drink,” Zaleski said. “And it’s a good size. We just like that can and I think it’ll market a little better than a beer can.
“It’s challenging to get that done, that’s not a typical one to do. We had to work really hard to get that can.”
Zaleski said Fero chose cans partially because the public is looking to do it, but there is also a global perspective.
“They’re truthfully, a better system for storing and transporting wine at a lower carbon emission,” he said. “They’re easier and less expensive. So there are a lot of good reasons to do it.”
Although Pinot is the first cans that Fero has done, Rosé is next on the docket.
“We just want to market steadily and slowly, we’re not looking for a big bang because we can’t adapt to that,” Zaleski said. “We only grow so many grapes and we pretty much sell our wine now (around 3,000 cases annually). So I don’t want to go overboard spending a lot of money marketing and then not having a product to sell.
“We like to make what we make that can be the best wine it is and then sell it all. That’s how we want to match our market.”
The quality aspect is important as well. The cans feature the same quality as a bottle.
“We have no intention of canning lower-quality wine, I don’t really like to put out lower quality wine at all,” Zaleski said. “When we do get something that I’m not really happy with, I hate to say … we make it into sweet wine.”
Fero is currently trying to figure out what the can will hold and how long it will last.
“We are only doing high acid, fresh, bright-tasting wines, but I don’t think we’re going to go into reds for a little while,” he said. “We’ll be increasing our production of both of them. A lot of people like them for outdoor activities, maybe golfing, canoeing, those kinds of things, and they’re starting to sell so it’s something that we’re gonna continue to do.”
Photo courtesy Fero Vineyards & Winery