Sparkling Wine in a Can

January 15, 2016 | Niagara this Week
by Melinda Cheevers

A group of Niagara-on-the-Lake winemakers are sure to be the toast of the town with the launch of an innovative new product: sparkling wine in a can.

Origin Sparkling Wine was released at the start of the year, offering lovers of the bubbly beverage the opportunity to enjoy smaller servings — 8.5 ounces per can. There’s no longer a need to wait for a reason to celebrate, the single serving size means people can pop a tab, instead of a cork, and not have to worry about finishing the bottle.

“Family dynamics have changed,” explained Greg Wertsch, one of the four partners in Genesis Wine Group, the operation behind Origin. “There aren’t always large groups getting together to celebrate. Sometimes, it’s just small groups and there’s a hesitation to open a bottle of sparkling wine because if you don’t finish it all, it goes flat. This solves that problem.”

Wertsch, who along with his brother Yannick, owns Between the Lines Winery where Origin is canned, said he came up with the idea when considering new ways to enjoy wine. The can is lined with a food-safe lining and, much like your favourite pop can, keeps the bubbles intact as long as it’s sealed. The can itself is tall and narrow, similar in styling to some popular energy drinks on the market. Instead of pop though, the Origin can is filled with a high quality VQA sparkling wine.

“This isn’t the quality people have come to expect from packaging like this,” said Wertsch, comparing it to tetra paks which failed to take off, in his opinion, because of the lower quality wine found in them. “People blamed it on the packaging, but it wasn’t the high quality wine that was put in there to begin with.”

If there is a stigma associated with drinking wine out of a can, Wertsch said he’s not worried about it. The product was officially released at the start of the month and has been received really well in the winery selling five per cent of its total run in the first five days.

“People have been excited about it and it’s been received warmly,” he said.

The can, he said, actually protects the wine – which includes a small amount of Vidal Icewine – from harmful UV rays that can affect the quality of wine in traditional glass bottles. However, he doesn’t see himself making other types of canned wine in the future. For a product like red wine, which is often aged for years, the can is not ideal.

“I wouldn’t store something for more than four years in a can,” he said. Instead, it’s better for beverages with a faster turn around time – which isn’t the type of wine they’re used to making at Between the Lines.

Rounding out the Genesis Wine Group is Wertsch’s brother, Yannick, as well as Philip Chae and Lucian Cao. Wertsch used to teach Chae and Cao at Niagara College. He pitched the project to them, and they jumped on board.

“I wanted to share this with somebody,” he said of the decision to partner up. “It’s taken off like crazy.”

Right now, Origin is only available at Between the Lines Winery, 991 Four Mile Creek Rd. in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Wertsch said they’re hoping to have it listed in the LCBO but added that process can take a while, especially for new products. Origin will be featured this weekend at the Xerox Icewine Gala in Niagara Falls, part of the Niagara Icewine Festival.