New San Francisco Wine Brand Wants to Elevate Canned Wine

Urmila Ramakrishnan/KQED

Two former tech executives have banded together to elevate the idea of canned wine.

San Francisco resident Jessica Hershfield was looking for something that was a different pace from the grind of working at companies like Google, Uber and Lime. She left her job at Lime in November 2019 and started Just Enough Wines with her co-founders in February. Without previous experience in the wine industry, Hershfield said she ended up in the industry because of its "ubiquitous nature."

Along with co-founder Kaitlyn Lo and head of wine operations Ross Bentley, Hershfield recently launched Just Enough's first wines. She said that she wanted to get into the smaller format, canned wine niche because of sustainability and portability aspects.

"It's been a crazy past seven months," Hershfield said. The team worked with wineries in specific American Viticultural Areas (AVAs are geographic designations for California wines) in the bulk market to produce a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The result is one of the few canned wine brands, if not the only one, that focuses specifically on AVAs and has a specific vintage. The brand wanted to focus on these two varietals for the fall because they balanced quality and approachability, said Hershfield.

"I knew I wanted a crisp, refreshing white wine," said Hershfield of her Chardonnay. And unlike the typical style for California, which can be pure butter bombs, Just Wines straddles the leaner side.

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Hershfield says that Just Enough differs from other popular canned wine brands because of the smaller size, which equates to about 1.5 glasses of wine per can. Along with making portable cans for their targeted demographic, the company has tried to focus on sustainable measures for their wines, sourcing from vineyards with LIVE and SIP certifications (designations similar to organic farming and sustainability labels). Even considering the type of can, and its labeling and packaging, were important to Hershfield and Lo. It was a balance between minimal packaging and protecting the can from dents or damage, said Hershfield.

As far as canned wines go, production is very different from bottle production. Unlike bottles, canned wines can't age. On top of that, their shelf life remains at about the one-year mark. But in terms of a way to "close" or seal wine, it works pretty similar to screw top bottles.

Right now, because of regulations regarding interstate alcohol sales, Just Enough Wines is focusing specifically on direct-to-consumer models within California. The company has partnered with places like Bar Bocce, but they want to focus on direct sales because of the volume produced with this first vintage. They hope to expand to Oregon next, and intend on releasing a holiday sparkling wine and potentially another release. They've also partnered with DoorDash for a subscription program that offers same-day delivery. Pricing ranges between $45–$48 for six-packs.