“If I’m carrying a picnic basket to Blossom from the farthest lot away because I’m the last person to get there, I’m not going to want to carry a bunch of bottles,” says Banter owner and wine lover Adam Gullett. “That’s the time and place for a can.”
Wine is fine, but it traditionally arrives in heavy, breakable, non-ecofriendly glass bottles. And then there’s the need for glassware and special equipment to liberate the contents. When you’ve plowed through all that delicious juice, you have the pleasure of lugging those cumbersome bottles back out to the car with you.
There’s a solution, it’s called MANCAN
, and it was conceived in a Cleveland bar by local entrepreneur Graham Veysey.
“It was April 27, 2014, and I was at a dive bar with a friend,” Veysey recalls. “I wanted a glass of wine, but who knows how long the bottle’s been open. I said, I wished they served wine in a can. We immediately jumped on our phones to check and the only wine in a can that we found was Sophia, which came in a little pink can. I said, we need a man can, an actual 12-ounce beer can.”
That night, Veysey snatched up the mancanwine domain and got about the business of building a wine-in-a-can empire. In just a few short years, MANCAN has made an impression in the highly competitive alcoholic beverages market, 15 percent of which belongs to wine drinkers. The product is stocked in stores across 10 states, and locally at places like Progressive Field, Jukebox, Happy Dog, Nano Brew, Platform, Banter and others.
Some of the early and speedy success can be pinned on savvy marketing, but most of the credit goes to the simple fact that it’s a great idea buoyed by a great product. Veysey and partners Fisk Biggar and Marika Shioiri-Clark, who is also his wife, work with a California winemaker with 20-plus years of experience. The result is a portfolio of three wines: white, red and fizz, all blends consisting exclusively of California-grown grapes.
“We’re deliberately non-vintage, non-varietal,” explains Veysey, whose official title is Head Wine Guy. “The wine has to consistently hit the taste profile and it has to have universal drinkability.”
This is not wine you stash in your cellar. This is wine you drop into an ice chest – red and white – pop open, and drink during the picnic, at the beach, by the pool, before the game or après-ski. Each can is 375 ml (12.6 ounces), or the equivalent of half a bottle of wine. The price is $4.99 for what works out to be two big glasses of California wine.
“When was the last time you had just one glass of wine,” says Veysey, which I assume is a rhetorical question. “If anything it’s too drinkable, because your muscle memory wants to slam it because it’s in a can.”
The wine recently snagged gold and silver awards at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America convention, besting almost every other wine in the blend category.
Banter stocks the product in its coolers alongside much pricier wines. And often, the cans are the ones that get the best reaction.
“People come in and they’re looking at the wine cooler and they’re like, Hey, wine in can!” Gullett says. “It’s definitely not a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but they’re not selling it like that. It’s wine in can. Now go enjoy your kayak.”
In addition to the red, white and fizz, MANCAN will add a rosé to its portfolio. But that’s it, says Veysey.
“It’s all about simplicity.”
The name, a tongue-in-cheek attempt to market the wine to historically beer-loving men, is largely taken in the spirit in which it was intended. But not always, notes Veysey.
“I’ve been surprised by the vitriol that some people have with the name,” he says. “We’re pro-choice; you can choose it or not. We wanted a name that is strong, memorable.”