Canned wine is a crowded category. It seems like every day a new canned wine brand comes out with an eye-catching name. But when you look at the can, it is usually impossible to find the grape variety, let alone where the grapes are from or what vintage the wine was made.
But when an organic farmer and a sommelier get together to make a canned wine, they create a product that opened my mind about canned wine.
Sans Wine Co was founded by Gina Schober and Jake Stover. Stover, who is originally from Kansas, came to Sonoma where he was introduced to organic farming. He was intrigued with understanding how he could minimize pesticides and other chemicals from farming and launched his own farming business. Schober worked in restaurants and later wine sales and understood the art of selling wine.
In 2014, on one of their first dates, Stover took Schober to a vineyard he was developing on the Sonoma Coast. As they were driving along the coast, Schober watched people rafting and said, “Let’s start a canned wine.”
Canned wine is a great idea for many reasons. A can is a stable environment. No oxygen can get through a can and this means that there is less necessity to add sulfur to preserve it. Cans can be easily stored and quickly chilled down when you want to drink them. Cans are portable and can be enjoyed while camping, picnicking, rafting, or at any outdoor activity. And best of all, there is the equivalence of half of a bottle of wine in a can. That means that two people can share a can with a glass of wine each, or one person can enjoy two glasses of wine without wasting the rest of the bottle.
In 2016, Jake and Gina launched Sans Wine Co. The name “Sans” was inspired by its translation “without.” The wines produced by Sans Wine Co come from premium organic wine grapes that are made in a natural style. In addition, they put the variety, vineyard location, and the vintage date on the cans. They work with native yeasts and ferment and age all of the wines in stainless steel. Ultimately, the wines are focused on the pure expressions of the vineyard sites.
Whenever I open a can of Sans Wine and pour it into a glass, I am surprised that it came from a can. The flavors are varietally correct and the wines are very drinkable. There are six grape varieties to choose from: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Rosé, Rosé Bubbles, Carbonic Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each wine is certified vegan, unfined, unfiltered and has no added sulfites. All of the wines are vintage wines; however, the date was removed from the cans of the Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Rosé Bubbles for marketing purposes.
Sauvignon Blanc ($10)
Schobel has a special affinity to Sauvignon Blanc. Her maternal grandfather had a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in the 1970s in Lake County. While he sold the vineyard in the 1990s, she was inspired to find a vineyard in Lake County as an homage to her grandfather and they made their first vintage in 2016.
They source the fruit from the Finley Road Vineyard in Kelseyville, Lake County. Owned by the Carpenter family, the vineyard is surrounded by organic pear farms. The wine has notes of stone fruit, pear, melon and pineapple. It has a nice mouthfeel with texture on the mid-palate and soft, full-mouth acidity
The rosé is made from dry-farmed, head-trained Carignan sourced from the Poor Ranch Vineyard in Mendocino County. It has fresh notes of wild strawberries, tart cherry, raspberry, cranberry, orange peel, and cardamom.
Rosé Bubbles ($10)
A play on white Zinfandel, this wine is sourced from the Passmore block, a single block of organically farmed Zinfandel planted in 1952 on the Poor Ranch Vineyard. Made a rosé and carbonated, the wine is lightly effervescent with a watermelon hue and tart raspberry notes.
Riesling 2019 ($15)
With only 80 acres of Riesling planted in Napa, this Riesling is sourced from four acres on the McGill Vineyard in Rutherford. These 60-year-old vines are organically farmed, and the Riesling is fermented dry. The wine has pretty floral notes and flavors of pears and citrus.
Carbonic Carignan 2019 ($12)
Sourced from the Coyote Rock block on the Poor Ranch, the Carignan was planted in 1943. The grapes are hand-harvested and undergo carbonic fermentation. The wine has beautiful fruit aromas of plums, violets, rhubarb, cranberries, and raspberries, as well as cinnamon and herbs notes. A juicy wine, it is delicious when chilled.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($25)
The Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Three Jacks Vineyard, a small vineyard on Soda Canyon Road in Napa Valley. The wine does not see any oak or pump-overs. The first vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon in a can, the wine has lots of red and black fruit aromas and low tannins.
The canned wines of Sans Wine Co are pure expressions of the grape variety and the place they are from and have definitely elevated my impression of canned wine.
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Allison Levine is owner of Please The Palate, a marketing and event-planning agency. A freelance writer, she contributes to numerous publications while eating and drinking her way around the world. Allison is also the host of the wine podcast Wine Soundtrack USA and a co-host of Crush On This videos on YouTube. Contact her at email@example.com.