The founder of Pinot Palooza has launched a side hustle called Good Time Wines, a quality canned wine business.
Dan Sims came up with the idea when his food and drink events company Revel was slammed by COVID-19 last year. Suddenly his flagship event was shut down after becoming a global success – in 2019, Pinot Palooza was held in a dozen cities in five countries, involved 500 wineries and attracted 15,000 visitors.
Revel’s cash flow ground to a halt within 24 hours, as around 75% of its revenue came from ticket sales. So Sims decided to hold a virtual event. Working with pre-mixed cocktail company Curatif, he created packs of 12 pinots in 150ml cans to be tasted during a Pinot Palooza live-stream last November.
The first 500 packs of 12 cans sold out quickly, so Revel created another 500 packs to satisfy demand.
“We got a lot of great feedback,” Sims said. “So it made sense to expand on the idea. This enabled our audience to engage with us, taste a range of different wines for a relatively small investment, but have a lot of fun doing it. For me, that is what the events are all about as well.
“We did that round of taking the wine out of bottle and putting it in can. Not the best way to do it, but we got a really good result from it, plus learn a lot about what we’d want to do in the future and how we go about it.”
Sims (above) started to wonder whether he should create a canned wine subscription service – the result is Good Time Wines, a collaboration with Luke McKinnon from communications consultancy Common State.
“We’d been chatting for a long time about doing something together in wine and this was a great chance to do it,” Sims said. “At a base level, the 150ml cans readily solve the perpetual dilemma of what to do when you only want one glass? However, the idea really stemmed from a discussions and a belief that there was different way to drink, package and serve wine. Something convenient and fun that didn’t take itself too seriously.
“It’s been a collaborative effort from the outset and each drop – a bi-monthly selection of a red, white and rosé cans – sees us working with three different wine makers who we love to bring the party to the people. Our inaugural collection features wine from Gargagiste, Moondarra and BK Wines.”
Overcoming resistance to canned wine
Currently, canned wine is mostly regarded as a US phenomenon. According to Market Watch, canned wine sales were about $200 million in the US in 2020, up 68% from the previous year. However, awareness remains relatively low in both the US and countries such as Australia. Canned wine also suffers from perceptions of being low quality, while red wine is seen as something to be sipped from a bottle at dinner rather than drunk from a can beside the pool.
However, Sims believes canned wine is poised to follow the same trajectory as craft beer and seltzers in cans.
“Canned wine is coming,” he said, “what has been mostly available on the market until now, to be honest, isn’t really good juice.”
“Hence me thinking ‘why not put good wine in can’. Also, 250ml – 330ml cans, in my opinion, is the wrong size. What 150ml does is puts it into a size format people actually understand, a glass of wine. They can also measure what they’ve consumed via that measure as well. 250ml cans can be up to 2.5-3 standard drinks. So, people would say ‘I’ve only had three cans of rose’ when in actual fact they’ve had an entire bottle.”
He also thinks selling wine in cans makes more sense than heavy bottles in today’s environment.
“At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself that if wine was invented today, do we really think we’d put it in 750ml, fragile, heavy, expensive, light sensitive glass bottles,” he noted, “let alone put a piece of bark in the top? You’d be laughed out of the room. But also, we’ve been able to show off the cans at the two events we’ve managed to run since October 2019. This allowed us to test the market and gauge the response. Obviously it was super positive, hence offering it to the public now.”
Wine in a can vs bottles
Sims is adamant that putting wine in cans rather than bottles has absolutely no effect on the quality.
“The issue with wine in can is not ‘wine in can’, it’s shit wine in can,” he noted.
He compares the concept to the initial resistance to screw caps on wine. Critics said no one would drink wine out of bottle with a screw cap because it would cheapen the product. However, the entire Clare Valley wine region jumped on board with screw cap idea and made a statement. These days wine with a cork is seen as the aberration and corkscrews are a dinosaur in utensil drawers.
“Wine traditionalists might not like cans, but they aren’t our market,” he said.
“Someone said to me on Twitter, ‘I don’t get wine in can as you say you should pour into a wine a glass, doesn’t that defeat the point?’. I replied by saying ‘do you drink wine right out of the bottle?’
“Also, I’ve had questions around ageing potential and again, I’m like ‘If you’re cellaring wine in can, you’re kinda missing the bloody point!’ I’m not saying wine should only be in can, I’m just saying there should be multiple formats for drinkers to enjoy. The more wineries who do it, the better the momentum. I’m very much working on this and hence going hard on Good Time Wines.”
Sims also notes that all the data speaks to people drinking less, but paying more. And the 150ml can ties in perfectly.
“It’s a convenient, practical, space saving – as most under 35s are in one-bedroom apartments, with no room for cases of wine – fully recyclable alternative to bottles,” he said. “When you think about it, wine in bottle is really quite silly. When open, it goes off in a few days, even if you put it in the fridge. Milk doesn’t go off in three days!”
As for Sims’ main hustle, he’s looking forward to the 10th anniversary Pinot Palooza events in May 2022.
“COVID-19 has been devastating for the entire event industry economic ecosystem,” he concluded. “But when we can run the festivals, we know people will respond in kind. People want to get out and have some fun and engage with people. So yes, I’m very much looking forward to it. But in the meantime, let’s #getonthecans.”
Get your hands on the Good Time Wines inaugural mixed dozen party pack by clicking here.
Categories: New releases