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Sipwell, a canned wine with a craft beer background, celebrates its first year

Hilary Cocalis, founder of Sipwell Wine Co.
(Sipwell Wine Co.)

It’s easy to find a high-caliber canned craft beer in San Diego. But wine is another story.

“You see really great quality beer in a can — and honestly at this point, it’s the highest quality of beer that comes in a can,” Hilary Cocalis said. “It was crazy to me that you have this whole category with wine that people were slow to adopt. ... It was always cheap wine in a can or a box.”

Cocalis is the founder of Sipwell Wine Co., a San Diego-based canned wine business that focuses on moderation, sustainability and quality. Each serving of wine, which equates to one-third of a typical bottle, is packaged in recyclable cans and shipped directly to the consumer in plastic-free packaging.

Sipwell launched its e-commerce operations during the pandemic, and next month marks its one-year anniversary. Though Cocalis faced many delays and challenges due to COVID-19, she points out that the circumstances did contribute to the brand’s success in an unexpected way.

Sipwell Wine Co. currently offers four flavors
Sipwell Wine Co. currently offers four flavors: Tiny Victories Sparkling White, Rock Steady Sparkling Rosé, Go Getter Sparkling Red, and That’s The Jam Grenache.
(Sipwell Wine Co.)

“If there is a silver lining, the pandemic got more people used to ordering directly from producers and getting it shipped to them. ... If anything, it’s allowed people to be more open to our concept,” she said.

Sipwell’s current offerings include four flavors: three sparkling — white, rosé and red — and one still red, Grenache. While she didn’t invent the idea of canned wine, Cocalis notes that she is trying to “push the envelope on the level of quality you can get” with the product.

“The sparkling wine is somewhat unique because we can condition it, so it goes through second fermentation in the can, which is how it gets its carbonation and bubbles,” she continued. “It’s something that took inspiration from beer — they do it a lot in beer and cider, but as far as I know no one really does it in wine. I believe we’re the first to do it for a canned, sparkling wine.”

While Cocalis is a wine lover, turns out the entrepreneur has craft beer roots. She served as the Vice President of Marketing for Ballast Point Brewing Co. from 2013 to 2019. This in-house role, which she transitioned to after representing Ballast Point as a client through a marketing agency, granted her an in-depth look of the brewing industry.

“Working at Ballast, you have to have full exposure to the whole business. Understanding the operational side, how the beer is made, how it’s packaged, how it gets out to retail — that’s all super important to doing my job as a marketer,” Cocalis said, adding that she has also dabbled in homebrewing.

Sipwell continues to operate its online shop, but is now expanding to retail. Currently, the beverage is available to buy in 25 stores throughout San Diego County. Cocalis says they also plan to expand to other regions of California, but there’s a huge advantage for San Diegans: free local delivery.

Visit sipwell.co to make an online order or find a nearby location.


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