You hear someone say that they’re about to enjoy a really good glass of rosé. So your ears perk up and you prepare yourself: will it be the pop of a cork you hear next, or the turn of a screwcap? With the latest releases from the Fess Parker family of wines, it’s the cracking snap-back of a pull tab that grips your attention, and then a big, refreshing, thirst-quenching gulp.
Epiphany Cellars, a label specializing in Rhone wines that was launched by Fess’ son, Eli, and that’s celebrating its 20th anniversary, launched two wines this month that come in 375-ml. aluminum cans. True, wine-in-a-can is not new. But the caliber of what’s in these cans, along with their portability and approachability, makes them remarkable.
Both cans – a Grenache Rosé and a Grenache Blanc – feature grapes sourced from Rodney’s Vineyard, a noteworthy plot planted in 1989 that sits in the heart of the Parker Family ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley. For years, it’s produced sophisticated, complex, award-winning syrahs – some of the best syrahs out of Santa Barbara County. The 2017 Rodney’s Vineyard Syrah sells for $54 on the Fess Parker Winery website.
The fruit source alone, then, adds to these wines’ remarkable value: the cans, which are the equivalent of a half-bottle, or two tall glasses, sell in four-packs for $44, or $11 a can, or $5.50 a glass.
“It’s a personal portion, if you will,” quips Ashley Parker, Fess’ daughter, as we sip on the rosé. “Let’s be honest, hardly anyone I know has just one glass of wine, they have at least two!”
The Grenache Rosé is beautiful – worth pouring out of the can and into a glass simply to gaze at it, with its brilliant watermelon hues. It was 100% barrel fermented in neutral French oak for four months. Aromas remind you of cherries, flavors smack of pink grapefruit and the pop on the tongue is bracing. It’s delicious.
The Grenche Blanc was aged five months in a 100% stainless steel tank, so it’s zippy and fresh. “This one, I drink right out of the can,” adds Ashley. I ask if a straw would be OK. No problem. Honeydew hits the nose, zesty citrus hugs the palate.
“When we were going down this road and thinking thru this project, we wanted wines that were approachable right now,” adds Fess Parker Winery president (and Ashley’s husband) Tim Snider. “We wanted wines that were fresh and bright and that lent themselves to going to the beach, going on a hike – even, these days, socially distanced happy hours.
“Someone asked me, ‘What’s their shelf life?’” he continues. Both cans are super young, from the 2019 vintage. “These styles of wines are made to drink now, they’re not intended for aging. Enjoy them, drink them, we’ll make more!”
The artwork for the cans was inspired by the natural beauty of California as viewed from the family estate and Rodney’s Vineyard: the iconic California poppy for the Grenache Blanc, and hand-drawn roses for the Rosé. The cans were designed by Buffalo Brothers Studios in Santa Barbara, the same firm that led Epiphany’s original branding when the label launched in 2000.
The canned wines, ideal for summer sipping, are available for pickup at the Epiphany tasting room in Los Olivos or can be bought online at epiphanywineco.com; the winery is offering $10 flat rate shipping for any online orders through May 31.
An interesting side note: with tasting rooms mandated closed for more than two months, the Fess Parker team has pivoted hard toward e-commerce, which has resulted in online sales jumping an amazing 300%. Find out more at fessparker.com.