Skeptics across the country still exist when it comes to Joe to Go.
Wine by Joe CEO Gretchen Boock has showcased the 375 mL aluminum cans from the Oregon winery across the country, and tasters either embrace it or can’t get used to the aesthetic.
But, after tasting the Joe to Go Pinot Gris and Rosé, they need to get over it and accept wine served in a can. Both are perfect for outdoor activities. They are light, fit easily in a tote bag or cooler and should be a part of every live outdoor concert in the park, a summer afternoon at the pool or a backyard barbecue.
Perhaps most importantly though, they taste good and are crisply refreshing.
It’s fitting a that a guy named Joe would make the quality wine in a can. With his life savings – $50,000 – Joe Dobbes started Wine by Joe in 2002.
“Joe is a career winemaker that poured all he had into the business,” said Boock, who was the company’s first employee when she was hired in 2003. “And he’s been able to build it up with a small, hard-working team.”
The second canning run is already under way, a third is scheduled and a custom order will represent the fourth in the near future. Plans are being made to get Pinot Noir into the can either in the fall or early next year.
Joe to Go's canned Pinot Gris and Rose ($7 per 375 mL can) are crisp wines that are full of flavor and easy to enjoy. When tasting, I drank from the can and poured some in a glass. While I could see the color clearly in the glass, the taste was the same in both. It almost felt like I was cheating a bit by using a glass to sample, because the can packaging is so fun, I wanted the whole Joe to Go experience.
The sleeve on the can is quirky and informative. Stack two cans and the whole body of the little “Joe” on the sleeve is created. Simplicity comes in the truth in labeling. Four pictures let consumers know what flavors they can expect, the wine’s origin and how many glasses one can represents. It’s quirky and fun and fits the brand as well as the matching koozie that came with the wine shipment.
“Wine by Joe is an authentic wine made by a guy named Joe,” Boock said. “One of our base elements is that everyone can relate to an everyday Joe. But it’s a serious wine, it tastes great, there’s no attitude. Joe is a hard-working guy who built his business from scratch and likes to have fun and enjoy wine.”
There was risk venturing into canned wine. In addition to Wine by Joe, Dobbes also founded Dobbes Family Estate and Jovino. Sold in a traditional bottle, Wine by Joe Pinot Noir 2015 ($19) came from a warm vintage for Oregon and it showed with a fuller-bodied red with ripe black cherry flavors. It’s a wine that over-delivers at the price point, which also was a focus with Joe to Go.
If the project was going to be successful, the wine had to deliver. If two combined cans are equal to a bottle, they cost slightly less than a bottle of Wine by Joe Pinot. Boock knew the way to make Joe to Go successful wasn’t to “turn toward cheap juice.”
This summer, expect to see Joe to Go at outdoor activities. Last week, I told the general manager of my golf club if he were to stock them, I’d sit in the clubhouse for a post-round beverage.
After every round.
• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at email@example.com.