Glass wine bottles, for all their benefits, lack one major quality: portability.
Since alfresco activities are such a huge part of the Michigan lifestyle, particularly during the summer and fall, this lack of portability poses a problem for wine drinkers who want to sip a refreshing rosé while enjoying the great outdoors.
That’s where canned wine comes in.
“From a packaging standpoint, cans offer versatility for the consumer,” says Luke Pickelman, co-owner of Soul Squeeze Cellars in Lake Leelanau, via email. “You can take it to the beach, on the boat, on the golf course, hiking, etc. — and it fits better into a cooler.”
Aluminum cans have other perks, too. They’re less expensive for wineries to buy than glass bottles, they’re easily recyclable, and they’re lightweight, which helps with shipping.
Plus, most importantly for consumers, wine in a can tastes the same as it would if it were packaged in a glass bottle.
“There really is no difference,” says Brian Lesperance, vice president at Fenn Valley Vineyards in Fennville.
The next time you hit the trails, go camping or golfing, or take the boat out on the water, bring along a can of wine from one of these five Michigan wineries.*
Soul Squeeze Cellars, Lake Leelanau
One of Michigan’s best-known grapes, Riesling, gets a sparkling, semisweet twist in Soul Squeeze Cellars’ 12-ounce cans of Bubblius, available in four-packs. Notes of apple and citrus, along with a slight minerality, make this a refreshing choice for outdoor summer activities.
“We always wanted to make canned wine since the inception of our winery,” Pickelman says. “This wine is meant to be a fun, light option for our customers.”
Where to get it: in the tasting room (105 E. Philip St., Lake Leelanau 49653); online (soulsqueezecellars.com/product/4-pack-bubblius); and at certain retailers.
St. Julian Winery, Paw Paw
This Southwest Michigan winery sells a few different wines in 375-milliliter cans (that’s exactly half the size of a traditional bottle): Sweet Revenge, a red wine; Michcato, a sweet white wine made from Traminette and Valvin Muscat; and a sweet red sangria.
Where to get them: in the tasting rooms (stjulian.com/locations); online (stjulian.com/store); and at certain retailers.
Shady Lane Cellars, Suttons Bay
Under the Brio label, Shady Lane Cellars makes a few different wines in 375-milliliter cans. Brio Vibes, a bubbly blend of blanc de noir and Chardonnay, has a strawberries-and-cream flavor. Brio Blanc, a blend of Muscat and Vignoles, carries notes of tropical fruit and melon and a touch of sweetness. Brio Rosé is a drier, berry-centric blend that includes Pinot Noir and Vignoles.
“This is one of our biggest sellers just because rosé has such a place in summer wine drinking,” says Kasey Wierzba, executive winemaker and general manager, “and it’s just so easy to take around in a can.”
Shady Lane’s canned products are fun departures from the winery’s “more serious, single-varietal wines that come in bottles,” Wierzba says, but they’re “made with just as much thought and quality and integrity.”
Where to get them: in the tasting room (9580 E. Shady Lane, Suttons Bay 49682) and at certain retailers.
Fenn Valley Vineyards, Fennville
Touted as the first large-scale winery in Michigan to produce canned wine, Fenn Valley has a few different offerings. There’s Vino Blanco, a slightly effervescent, dry white wine; its red counterpart, Vino Rosso; a Pinot Grigio; and a piquette and a spritzer line, both lower in alcohol. The spritzers come in 12-ounce cans, and the others come in 375-millileter cans.
For low-alcohol products such as spritzers, Lesperance says, cans are a particularly attractive packaging option.
“That’s typically where consumers are looking for more of a convenient, easy-to-carry, easy-to-consume kind of package,” he says.
Where to get them: in the tasting room (6130 122nd Ave., Fennville 49408); online (fennvalley.com/shop); and at certain retailers.
Leelanau Cellars, Omena
Leelanau Cellars makes seven different canned wines, four of which won gold medals at the 2022 International Canned Wine Competition in California.
Three of the bubbly blends carry the Leelanau Cellars label: Winter White (semisweet, fruity, and crisp); Great Lakes Red (sweet and juicy); and Summer Sunset Rosé (semisweet with strawberry and melon flavors), all sold in 375-millileter cans. The other four — peach, blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry bubbly Moscato wines — are part of Leelanau Cellars’ lower-alcohol Farm Fresh line and come in 12-ounce cans.
“[Farm Fresh is] a private-label fruit wine brand that we produce for a variety of retailers, but we also sell it ourselves,” says Gabe Marzonie, director of marketing.
Where to get them: in the tasting room (5019 N. West Bay Shore Drive, Omena 49674); online (shop.lwc.wine/wines/cans); and at certain retailers.
Canned Wine Is Here to Stay — Just Not in Your Cellar
The canned wine industry in Michigan is only a few years old, and although it makes up a small portion of wineries’ overall production, several winemakers in the state say it isn’t going anywhere.
“I think that customers will have fewer choices [in the future] because the market won’t bear all the innovation,” Marzonie says, “but I think it’s here to stay.”
“Here to stay” doesn’t apply to storing canned wine, though. Unlike some bottled wines, canned wines will typically only last for a year or so.
But given their primary purpose in the industry — serving as a convenient, portable option for outdoor activities — their lack of longevity shouldn’t be an issue.
“It’s not meant to be saved and savored,” Marzonie says. “It’s meant to be consumed and enjoyed immediately.”
*Please drink responsibly and follow the rules if you’re planning to bring wine outside. Not every park, beach, golf course, etc., allows visitors to bring alcohol, so make sure you check before popping that can.