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Canned wine aimed at active drinkers

Selling wine in cans rather than traditional bottles is gaining in popularity.
Mateusz Perkowski

Capital Press

Published on September 19, 2017 10:42AM

Holly Dunning, left, operates a canning machine with her sons, Brayden, center, and Parker, right, to can the family’s estate-grown Pinot gris. Canned wine has surged in popularity in recent years.

Courtesy Kyle Dunning

Holly Dunning, left, operates a canning machine with her sons, Brayden, center, and Parker, right, to can the family’s estate-grown Pinot gris. Canned wine has surged in popularity in recent years.

Parker Dunning, left, operates a canning machine with his brother, Brayden, to can his family’s estate-grown Pinot gris. Canned wine has surged in popularity in recent years.

Courtesy Kyle Dunning

Parker Dunning, left, operates a canning machine with his brother, Brayden, to can his family’s estate-grown Pinot gris. Canned wine has surged in popularity in recent years.

A can of Knotty Brothers wine, which is produced by the Dunning family from grapes grown on their property near Corvallis, Ore. Canned wine has surged in popularity in recent years.

Courtesy Kyle Dunning

A can of Knotty Brothers wine, which is produced by the Dunning family from grapes grown on their property near Corvallis, Ore. Canned wine has surged in popularity in recent years.


The Dunning family will break from tradition upon introducing their estate-grown Pinot gris later this year — the wine will debut in cans rather than bottles.

The idea is to target the “active wine drinker” who prefer not to lug around a heavy 750-milliliter glass bottle on hikes and other outdoor adventures, said Kyle Dunning, the family’s patriarch.

“There are places you can’t take a bottle where you can take a can,” Dunning said.

Kyle and his wife, Holly, planted the first grape vines on their property near Corvallis, Ore., in 1990, back when their two sons, Parker and Brayden, were still youngsters.

Since then, the family has mostly harvested and sold grapes to winemakers, but they’ve recently taken steps to become more vertically integrated.

Last year, their two grown sons launched a mobile bottling and canning service under the “Knotty Brothers” brand, under which the family’s wine will also be sold.

About 350 cases of the wine cans were fermented by winemaker Joe Dobbes from grapes that were harvested from the family’s vineyard last year.

The Dunnings have a ready-made clientele for the product among the wineries, breweries and cideries across Eastern Oregon and Idaho that contract with Knotty Brothers for bottling and canning services.

Cans offer convenient portion control, as each holds the equivalent of two wine glasses, said Holly. With a 750-milliliter bottle, consumers must either commit to drinking the whole thing or risk degrading the quality of leftover wine by exposing it to oxygen.

For breweries, the cans provide an opportune serving container, so they don’t have to invest in glasses, said Parker. “They don’t need to do anything to sell our wine.”

Many sports arenas and parks don’t allow glass bottles but can be entered with cans, which are also simple to recycle, said Robert Zarate, a canning consulant hired by the Dunnings.

“It’s growing for sure. It’s getting big,” he said.

Between 2012 and 2016, sales of canned wine surged from less than $2 million to more than $14 million in the U.S., according to the Nielsen research company.

That’s still only about 1 percent of the total wine market, but “portability” is seen as a big plus, with 73 percent of consumers saying easy-to-carry containers are important to them, according to Nielsen.

Canning wine involves a somewhat different process than canning beer, since the federal government requires a slightly larger can size — the equivalent of half a bottle, or roughly 12.5 fluid ounces.

The cans are also lined with a polymer coating to prevent wine from eating away at the aluminum container, since it’s more acidic than beer.

Also, each can must be dosed with nitrogen gas to replace oxygen, which spoils wine over time.

Wine cans are less readily available than beer cans, and moderately more expensive, said Kyle Dunning. “Manufacturing of wine cans has not caught up to demand.”





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