The Bridge Lane Wine lineup is full of crowd-pleasers, not only because of their taste and price point, but because they are sold in bottle, box and keg.
So how could this company, the sister label of Lieb Cellars, expand its fan-favorite party and travel-friendly offerings?
The obvious answer would be cans.
Bridge Lane Wine canned 1,000 375 ml packages of its popular 2016 rosé on Monday, likely the first canned wine from a Long Island producer. The wine was canned at Premium Wine Group — the Mattituck winery and custom crush facility owned by Lieb’s parent company — by a mobile can company, Anvil Craft Services.
Lieb Cellars began offering wine in alternative packaging under its Bridge Lane label in 2014. The first year, the winery sold 900 boxes of wine. It expects to sell 11,000 in 2017.
“It was a risk at the time because nobody from New York was making a premium boxed wine,” said Ami Opisso, Lieb’s general manager. “We did it and we weren’t really sure how our guests, our consumers, the press and trade buyers would respond. But it’s all been so positive.”
That reception gave the Lieb team the confidence to pursue a canned product, Ms. Opisso said.
The wine canned on Monday was a test run and the winery expects to offer a wider selection of cans, including Bridge Lane’s full portfolio, in March 2018.
Russell Hearn, Premium’s director of winemaking, said the unorthodox packaging does not compromise the quality of the product. Lieb’s entire portfolio is bottled under screw cap, which is more dependable than cork, he said.
“I’m fine with the package as long as it’s in an inert package,” he said, noting that boxed wine has been a popular option in his native Australia for decades. “Good wine in a can doesn’t make it bad. Good wine going into any container stays good wine.”
The cans are guaranteed to stay fresh for a year. Because Bridge Lane’s rosé is not carbonated, the machine injects a tiny bit of nitrogen into the packaging to keep it shelf stable.
“That gives the cans that nice firm feel,” said Todd Lunderborg, who owns Long Island City-based Anvil with partner Pete Mastrella. “Otherwise it’s going to be a squishy, squishy can.”
The company travels to small craft breweries, including Moustache Brewing Co. in Riverhead, as the startup costs of the canning equipment would likely be too high for most operations. Monday was the first time Anvil had worked with a wine producer, Mr. Lunderborg said.
The cans are 100 percent aluminum and are recyclable, although not redeemable.
They cost $9 each or $34 for a four-pack and became available to wine club members on Wednesday. They will be available to the public at the Bridge Lane tasting room on Aug. 2.
“The benefits of canned wine is that it’s smaller serve, it’s two full glasses in one can that you can drink yourself or split with someone. It can easily be chilled. It makes all the sense in the world to bring canned wine on the beach or on the boat,” Ms. Opisso said. “It seems like canned wine is so perfect for where we are.”