Culture: The Canned Wine Brand Reimagining Outdoor Drinking
While some in the wine space may turn their noses up at canned wine, the category is here to stay. In fact, according to a Nielsen report, volume sales for canned wine increased more than 3,800% between 2017 and 2021.
In this episode, I sit down with Jake Bilbro, the founder Revelshine, a new premium canned wine brand. Bilbro, a fourth-generation winemaker and grape grower from Sonoma, discusses why he feels so passionately about enjoying wine in nature, and how his product’s recyclable aluminum packaging helps make that more attainable and sustainable. He also dives into how Revelshine is shaking up the canned wine category—and why he questions if it’s even canned wine in the first place.
Also in the mix: A peek into Jake’s unique background; the evolution of canned wine; the importance of reducing one’s carbon footprint; and his eclectic group of athletic co-founders.
Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.
Speakers: Jacy Topps, Jake Bilbro
Jacy Topps 00:08
Hello, and welcome to the Wine Enthusiast podcast. You’re serving of drinks culture, and the people who drive it. I’m Jacy Topps. This week we’re talking sustainability and canned wine. While some in the wine space may turn their noses up to the category, canned wine is here to stay. In fact, according to a report from Nielsen between 2017 and 2021, volume sales for canned wine increased more than 3,000% I sat down with Jake Bilbro to discuss the benefits of canned wine and how his new brand is shaking up the category. Jake is a fourth-generation winemaker and grape grower from Sonoma and founder of Revelshine, a new premium canned wine brand. So, listen on as we discussed Jake’s unique background in wine, including the celebrity wine brand he previously consulted with; the evolution of canned wine, reducing our carbon footprints; his eclectic group of athletic co-founders, and why his wine label is unlike the rest.
Jacy Topps 01:22
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Jacy Topps 02:33
Hi, I’m Jacy Topps. My guest today is Jake Bilbro. Jake is a fourth-generation winemaker and grape grower from Sonoma. He’s also the founder of Revelshine a new premium canned wine label. Welcome to the show. Jake. I’m so glad you can join us today.
Jake Bilbro 02:48
kekakeThank you, Jacy. It’s certainly a pleasure to be here.
Jacy Topps 02:51
So you’re born and raised in Sonoma County. And I know that you are from a family of wine. But for our listeners who might not be familiar, can you tell us a little bit about your background in wine?
Jake Bilbro 03:05
Yeah, born and raised in the wine industry. Fourth generation, it goes back beyond my dad. But the real turning point was my dad founded the winery called Marietta Cellars in 1978. I was one when he started that and that, you know, was a big brand and still is a big brand that my brother now owns and runs, you know, across the United States and beyond. Prior to that, you know, my dad owned another wine brand called Bendera, which his grandfather started. Then his uncle took over and then my dad took it over from him he ran up for a few years decided to sell it and then start Marietta. Our long-standing joke about it my brothers and I is that you know we’ve worked with him since we were a little, although when we were little, work consisted of playing hide and go seek, tag in the winery and driving around vineyards and everything else. It was just it was a lifestyle that we learned so
Jacy Topps 04:04
Yeah, that’s I mean that’s so cool. So basically, you grew up just around wine and around vineyards and around the cellars. That’s so remarkable.
Jake Bilbro 04:14
Yeah, you know, at the time, we certainly I would say I and my brothers you know, if throughout this podcast if I say I or we interchangeably, it’s you know, my brothers are all in the wine industry, as well and are two of my three brothers are in the wine industry. And so, you know, we often almost speak or work collaboratively in that regard. But even though we’re separate but yeah, it at the time, it didn’t seem like anything unusual. But now you know, as I’ve grown older and seen how other people have had been raised, etc. It was pretty unique. One example, when I was a little boy, Justin Meyer, the founder of Silver Oak used to ref my basketball games. The people that I just happen to know or be around, whether it be because of my dad and his friendships, or whether it be because it was just a small community, and everybody was we’re just community members, you know, now it’s kind of like, wow, you know that that that wasn’t exactly average, or the traditional way that most people may have had an experience but, but for us, it never really seemed that way. It was just, it was just the norm. And I would also add to that, you know, growing up in a winery and vineyard was one thing, but really growing up with my dad, what I what I most learned was, how to garden; how to forage for mushrooms; how to hunt; how to fish skiing, abalone diving, he was just an avid outdoorsman. Even I think, he would have defined himself first and foremost as an outdoorsman. And while his entire career in life was in winemaking, and starting this business and whatnot, that all somehow seems to support his overarching passion.
Jacy Topps 06:02
Yeah, yeah. I love that. So, I read somewhere that even though you grew up in wine, you initially did not want to go into wine after college. Is that right?
Jake Bilbro 06:15
Yeah, even before college. You know, it’s just what we knew. And it’s what we did, and driving a tractor driving a forklift checking grapes, picking grapes, topping barrels, kind of anything around that world, it was the life that we lived. And so when I was in high school, I got a job as a pizza delivery driver. And I just because it was something different. And when I graduated from high school, you know, 18 years old and thinking, I knew everything as so many 18-year-olds do. I sat down with my dad, and I wanted to have a real man demand conversation with him. And I said, thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Thank you for giving me a path and a direction and I just want you to know that I’m never going to work for you. And I’m never going to work in the wine industry.
Jacy Topps 07:08
Never is a big word.
Jake Bilbro 07:10
It’s a very big word. And of course, my dad being my dad, he patted me on the back and said, Go get him. And off, I go to college and everything else. And I had a really amazing college experience and you know, saw other places and things and, and somehow found my way back on a whim to Sonoma County, and, and then I never left and all of a sudden, I had to extract my foot from myself, because I was saying, Hey, Dad, this is pretty good. Can I work with you for a little while? Can I get a job?
Jacy Topps 07:43
Right? Well, of course, he just welcomed you back.
Jake Bilbro 07:47
He did, he did. Very much. I think that one thing that my dad did that, you know, we could talk about my dad, probably more than anyone else. My dad passed away a few years ago, but he was my best friend, the most influential person in my life, just an extraordinary person. And I love to refer to him as a person as a friend, because I think our relationship unquestionably stretched beyond the boundaries of father and son. But in that, you know, I think that what he did that was most beneficial for us, his children, was he really encouraged us to find our own paths. And even when we came home, you know, two of my brothers came home alongside me and all worked with him. And, you know, he encouraged us he said, okay, well, if you really want to work in the wine industry, go get a job at geyser peak winery, or go do this or let me introduce you to a distributor and go be a sales rep. You know, he, he, he didn’t there was never an expectation placed upon at any of us that we come home and work for him. And even when we expressed interest, he pushed us away to a certain degree until we really expressed our, our desires it was only at that point that he really said okay, well then let’s do this. And I think I you know, I certainly look at my own children in my life and, and secretly as much as I hope that they all are around me in so many ways for the rest of my life because I love them so much, you know, what I really want for them to go out and you know and blaze their own trail. And so, I, you know, follow in his footsteps and encourage them to go far and go deep and go wide. And if I’m fortunate enough that some or all of them decide to come back in some vein with me then, you know, so much the better but I think in in encouraging them that to find their paths farther, I think that’s probably the best way and hopes that maybe their paths might bring them back. Closer to home.
Jacy Topps 09:54
Oh, that’s great. I’ve met your kids and your kids are great.
Jake Bilbro 09:59
They are! I am excited and happy that I can say that I think, at least from my perspective, my relationship goes beyond being a father to them. They’re my friends. And we do a lot together. And it’s, it’s a really beautiful relationship, you know, superseded only by my wife who without her, we wouldn’t have them. So.
Jacy Topps 10:23
So this was at Marietta Cellars, that you started to work with your dad? Yeah. Okay, so now at some point, you decided that you wanted to go out on your own, at what point was this?
Jake Bilbro 10:38
Let’s see, about 16 years into it, you know, for a long time, it was just my dad and I, and boy, did we have fun, and we had fun because we were, you know, building Marietta, we were selling wine across the country, we were, we were growing and we just were really in lockstep with each other. And over time, two of my brothers came home to work with us, which we welcomed. And we brought in. As it went along, though, you know, number one, I think that the strongest thing that my family has, is our commitment to being family first. And that’s, that’s before business, that’s before you know, anything else. We really prioritize family. And so, as my brothers were there, and we were definitely working through how do we make this business work for, you know, our father, who is at one stage in his life, me being the oldest in my stage in my life, my younger brothers and, and their desires, and what they were trying to do. You know, we really kept family first to make sure that we all were going to commit and made a commitment to, you know, all all making sure that we could facilitate getting everyone into the right places.
Jake Bilbro 11:51
And that’s something that I am more proud of, than any accomplishment that I’ve had, you know, in the wine industry, or, or from family perspective, you know, the way that we’ve all supported each other, in that I was managing our national distribution and our sales and my dad and I had built the winery pretty significantly, and I was on the road, selling wine a lot. And I also had a beautiful wife and newborn son and a second son on the way, and little did I know, at the time, my daughter would be coming after that, but it just wasn’t working. And you know, I couldn’t be on the road that much and fulfill the obligations that I needed to for our business, and simultaneously be the father and husband that I wanted and, and so an opportunity kind of fell in my lap, my wife and I owned the property across the street from a small winery in the Russian River Valley, called Limerick Lane Cellars, which Wine Enthusiast has reviewed many times, etc. Owner there, Mike, who is a friend reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in buying the winery. He was older, he was ready to retire. He didn’t have any heirs. And so, I originally brought that opportunity to my family. But again, because we were also working through how do we fulfill the needs of my father at one stage in his life, my brothers, etc. We just couldn’t figure out how to already take a somewhat complex situation and add more to it. And so instead, what we did, you know, I asked my family for their blessing, and they all unilaterally gave it which was wonderful. And my wife and I struck out on purchasing Limerick Lane and kind of revitalizing that and bringing it back, which was the next 10 or 11 years or so of my life along with growing those kids and having all those wonderful family experiences.
Jacy Topps 13:48
I love this whole trajectory. I mean, it’s so nice. So you basically revitalize Limerick Lane Cellars, and you’re in now you’re at this time, and you’re selling wine and Limerick Lane.
Jake Bilbro 14:01
Yeah, so you know, 16 years after starting and working with my dad etc. And, and gaining, you know, growing up in the industry is one thing. And that is that is something that you can’t replicate the wine industry, vineyards, wineries, barrels, forklifts, hoses, tanks, those are things that are in my bones, including the people that I worked with, you know, growing up with one single Hispanic family who worked with our family since the time that my dad started the winery who we still are all connected to, you know, and the experiences of growing up with that type of cultural influence as well. You know that that can’t that’s not something that you could replicate. Now that’s just a part of who I am. And so there was a history to it. But then it turned into more of a business as well or or the true business aspect came into it as I came back from college and started that side of it. And then the evolution into Limerick Lane really allowed me to bring both of those back together. My children grew up on a vineyard, they grew up, you know, in the winery, they grew up a part of our, my wife and my, you know, building Limerick Lane at that point. And they grew up, you know, in their way, you know, even probably even more so than I did with that cultural infusion of this, of that really, you know, beautiful Latin culture that that I think is really important and is something that’s often overlooked or understated. And just in the wine industry, you know, there would be no California wine industry. Yeah, without that culture and without that those people so
Jacy Topps 15:51
Yeah, understanding that it was a diverse group of people that kind of created the wine country.
Jake Bilbro 15:59
Absolutely. And I think something that I think is probably one of my dad’s greatest achievements is that his first employee Roman Roman Cesenaros, who is my brother. Romane is now let me think about this. He is, I believe, 51 or 52. He has only ever worked for my father and now my brother he’s worked with at Marietta his entire life, that’s the only job that he ever has. He has now three grown beautiful daughters. He owns a home in Healdsburg, California. And when my dad passed away, Roman was in his will alongside his own children. And my dad taught us and in Romane was part of our family, and still is, and I think that that there are others I would not say that my dad the way he interacted with, you know, his employees is his alone, you know, but, but I think that what he, the way he interacted with them and how he taught us, predicated how my brothers and I do business and how we look at our employees and how they are completely part of our family.
Jacy Topps 17:11
Yeah, that’s great. I when I was doing research for this interview, I read that you actually did some consulting in France. For Brad Pitt’s label Miraval.
Jake Bilbro 17:26
I did ask. Yeah, that’s funny. You read pretty deep to find that. That’s certainly nothing that I shy away from talking about. But it’s also certainly not what I promote, first and foremost. A friend of mine, a mutual friend of ours, who was a huge wine lover, and who bought a lot of wine from me at Limerick Lane and who was a very good friend reached out to me and said, I have a friend who’s purchasing a vineyard and could use some help. And would you be interested in helping him? And I said, sure, not knowing who it was and. And then he told me, and my eyes kind of got a little bit wider.
Jake Bilbro 18:10
And that was a really good experience, that was a really cool place to visit. And getting to see the insides of, of how that amazing brand developed was, was really educational for me. And then it became something that I didn’t talk about too much for a long time, because I was worried that people might look at that experience. And that would somehow define my accomplishment. And so this is this, this isn’t meant as a humble brag. You know what we did at Limerick Lane, certainly, we had some very, very highly activated wines, the wines are still reviewed. I think to this day, Limerick Lane is the highest rated Zinfandel in Wine Enthusiast’s history. And I also believe it’s the highest rated still rose and Wine Enthusiast history. And, you know, those types of accolades certainly got us into a pretty high-profile world. And so, you know, Mr. Pitt wasn’t the only person that I interacted with on that level, and I did a lot of really high-profile events. And, and, and that was a really educational thing for me, which helped me to learn, number one, how much respect I had for him for wanting to build that authentically and build that in a way where it wouldn’t be perceived as just simply a celebrity one. But number two, you know, it also made me realize, really, how special it was what I had too and what my father had given my brothers and I, and the uniqueness of what we had within the industry. And so I learned that he could build a brand his way. And I also learned that I could build a brand my way and they both could find, you know, really great success depending upon where we wanted to go.
Jacy Topps 19:53
Yeah, I think that’s a great point. I think the celebrity wine market is very saturated. But I do think Miraval is a great product and a great wine, and it sells very well. So, I think that’s one of the reasons why they’re successful.
Jake Bilbro 20:09
Well, yes. And, you know, I would say that, that the name doesn’t hurt, right? But I think that the validity really comes from their partnering with the Perrin family, those are pretty knowledgeable folk within our industry. And I think that that brought a tremendous amount of validity and know how to something in a sense to where they could build something, you know, with a level of authenticity that that could supersede the celebrity.
Jacy Topps 20:45
So, let’s get into your new project. Yeah, you have a new label, Revelshine. What is it? And why did you decide to start it?
Jake Bilbro 20:54
Revelshine is, honestly, I think it’s probably where I was supposed to be in the wine industry this whole time. But I think that it took a lot of experiences, with family with brothers with vineyards in France with, with all these other things to, to really figure out how and where I could most authentically fit. And, and not just fit, but contribute. And so, you know, again, going back to it, my dad was an outdoorsman, different, more so than he was a winemaker. And I have a picture that I unfortunately lost. That’s the biggest bummer of all of this. But I had a picture of my dad, he and I were in Alaska fly fishing together. And he was in the middle of a stream. And it was just the most quintessential perfect picture you could imagine. He was in full cast, he was the only one in the whole stream fishing, he was completely by himself, the colors and everything were so vibrant. And if you looked closely, he had a bottle of wine stuck in the top of his waders. And that kind of meant everything. And when I look at my life, you know, my wife, and my wife and I are wedding vows to each other where that we would hike and bike and surf and ski and and do everything, we could with each other outdoors, as long as we could together. That was that was the genesis of our, our connection with each other. My wife was a professional triathlete. She’s an extraordinary outdoors woman who just lights up when she’s outside and in beautiful places, you know, using her body to, to connect to the world.
Jake Bilbro 22:41
And what we thought about and what we questioned was how come when we’re in the places that we love the most, and we want to celebrate, how come there’s no wine there? How come in the outdoors, and in all of these places, it’s kind of dominated by craft beer, or, you know, whiskey out of a flask, around the campfire, or, or even now, these days by White Claw or seltzers. And how come there’s not wine there? And, and so we looked at it, and we, you know, the canned wine movement, which is something that we don’t actually consider ourselves to be a part of. But what the canned wine movement, offered, it was already in existence and offered an ability to, to get wine into those places. But there were parts of it, that we felt that it had really gotten wrong. And so our goal was to see if we could draw from our historical, my historical, knowledge in the industry, draw from our love from the outdoors, and then draw from a myriad of different types of packaging, etc, to create something, you know, really unique. And I think that we’ve accomplished that. You know, Revelshine we consider to be an unbreakable bottle. It’s multi serving. It’s not a single serving. It’s a true bottle that you open. It’s for me, it’s not a wine experience. And I’m not knocking anybody in the wine industry by any means. I love anyone who is looking to create something beautiful. But for us, it wasn’t the same experience to have a single serving portion of wine served in a pop top, where you couldn’t smell and taste the wine in the same way and savor it. I wanted a traditional wine experience. But I wanted to be able to take that, you know, beyond the limitations of, quote unquote, the traditional table and I wanted to take that beyond the limitations of the traditional glass bottle. And so we we created a 500 milliliter unbreakable bottle, it’s double insulated aluminum, and with an intention of being able to take wine more places and to celebrate and share it with more people, and first and foremost, to offer people the ability to do that in a much more sustainable fashion, which is really the backbone of what we’re doing.
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Jacy Topps 26:03
So, is it because the aluminum is is more of a higher grade? Or is it because of the top? Why is it that you don’t consider yourself as part of the canned wine movement?
Jake Bilbro 26:14
The canned wine experience for me? You know, we tried that when we were trying to solve the problem of why we can’t get wine in the places that we want to go. And my wife and I, you know, live in Ketchum, Idaho, we live up in the mountains in a small mountain town. And often in the evenings, we will take the dogs for a walk, especially this time of year. And we go down to the river, and I can bring a bottle of revel shine with me, and I can drop it in the water, and we can take the dogs for a20-minutee walk and come back and the wine is perfectly chilled. And it’s right at that moment that I think our reason for Revelshine differs and is unique. Because right at that moment when we’ve just had this really wonderful moment together, and it’s the evening and there’s sunset colors. And you know, you’re just kind of reveling in the richness of that moment, to be able to open a bottle and pour a glass of wine and share it with a person that I love is a totally different experience than to take a single serving can and hand it to her. Whether she then pops the top herself. And her experience not only of how that wine was shared culturally, and again, this goes back to the life that I’ve led up to this point. But also, her that experience of how she gets to drink it. It’s in a it’s in a tumbler, she smells it, she can sip it, she savors it, we’re sitting there, she’s not drinking it through, you know, like a soda can, or a Red Bull can all those different terms for what that may be, where you really can’t smell or taste the wine as much. But then also, I can put the rest of that bottle, I can screw the top back on put it back in the water. And we can choose to have some more or not much like the way a similar bottle, there’s no commitment to how much we’re going to drink because we’ve now opened it. And what we have decided to drink, we can drink in a in a really more traditional fashion. That to me, it’s a bottle. It’s it’s made out of a different material than glass. But we’re having a traditional wine experience out of a traditional bottle. It just so happens that bottle being made out of aluminum allows us to take it more places where we couldn’t normally take one.
Jacy Topps 28:37
I love that answer. I mean, because I think that can wines, like you said it basically kind of removes the whole wine experience. You have wine now, basically where you can have glass, and you lose the experience behind that. So, with Revelshine, you have the experience. I Like
Jake Bilbro 28:58
You mean, canned wine allows you to transport the liquid to different places. But it did not allow the cultural experience to go along with into those new places. And I this is just my business hat. But I talked to many people who are traditional wine consumers who tended to turn their nose towards canned wine. And that’s not a positive thing. And so if if you inherently do something creative and innovative, but if you divorce yourself from your largest potential set of consumers who are your existing, you know, wine drinkers, that that didn’t really jive with me. And so our goal was how do we bring that along so that we can bring those consumers with us? Number one and then number two, what the alternative packaging brought was an extraordinary level of utility. And I think that a lot of canned wine again, not trying to knock it but it was almost or is almost sold based on novelty.
Jake Bilbro 30:03
And I don’t look at it that way I don’t I look at this as a very, you know, one of the ways that we describe Revelshine is it’s a traditional approach to sustainable winemaking with an outdoor spirit. I mean, we’re making very high quality traditionally made wine, and our packaging is different. But for us, that packaging makes a lot more sense. It doesn’t break, it is extremely sustainable in comparison to glass. And it just allows you to put that really high quality, traditional product, it allows you to bring in more places as opposed to something that someone might try because it’s different. What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to say, hey, we’re bringing all of the best of the traditional wine world with us. But we’re packaging it in a way that we truly believe is better. And I would add to that, I still buy wine and glass bottles. So, wine. And historically, if you looked at the majority of consumers in the United States, well, I can’t say the majority, if you looked at the way wine was consumed, and the way that I was growing up and prior, there was a much higher percentage of consumers who bought wine and sell it in HD. In this day and age, it’s an astronomical number, it’s above 90%, more than 90% of the wine that’s purchased in the United States is consumed within 48 hours of purchase. So, you don’t need that glass bottle or that cork to age that wine. And so wines that I choose to buy, that I want to age, that I want to save for Thanksgiving, or a special Saturday night, or, or whatever it may be, those are in glass bottles, and I need that glass bottle in order for that wine to properly age. But wines that I choose to buy, because I’m gonna go with my family on a camping trip, or if I’m just in my backyard, barbecuing this weekend, there’s no need for the glass. There truly isn’t. And so in that regard, I look at consumer habits. I look at the utility of the product. And then I look at the sustainability of the product. And I firmly stand behind the fact that I believe that our our version of an unbreakable bottle is better. It’s evolved with the times. And that’s something that I don’t think a lot of the wine industry has looked at.
Jacy Topps 32:18
Yeah. And your focus on sustainability, is that mainly about your packaging?
Jake Bilbro 32:22
Yeah. So that’s a really, really interesting point. And I have I have to say that in, in the genesis of this brand. You know, sustainability wasn’t at the heart of it. It was the utility it was how do we get the wine more places. But as we evolved, and really took this deep dive into it and really learn some pretty startling data, you know, from farming, from when you look at from the time that you start farming in the vineyard, running tractors doing all of your vineyard work, etc, through harvest through crushing winemaking, through barrel aging, through bottling, through transporting that wine to distributors, and then to retailers. And from the time that it goes from being in the vineyard to a consumer. And this
depends upon the bottle that you use, but to up to 70% of that entire period carbon footprint is associated with the packaging in the glass bottle. And so that number can be higher or lower, depending upon the weight of the bottle.
Jake Bilbro 33:23
But glass is a carbon intensive product to make. And it’s heavy. And it’s also not as recyclable as aluminum. Aluminum is the only product out there. And I’m not just referring to glass that’s infinitely recyclable. And there’s when you really start digging into data, which, you know, we don’t need to go into too deeply today, because we don’t want your listeners to fall asleep. There’s just absolutely no comparison from a sustainability perspective, when it comes down to the reduction in carbon footprint that one can make by not only purchasing the wine in an alternative package made out of aluminum, but then in the recyclability because when and that’s the real key to this is that when that wine is then recycled, or that wine bottle is then recycled, every time that carbon footprint is shrinking, and every time the sustainability is is building and growing and increasing. I love
Jacy Topps 34:24
I didn’t know that. I love hearing about this because normally, you know sustainability has become this buzzword and the wine industry and it’s like you ask certain people and a lot of times they don’t know they just want to use those terms because it’s it’s what’s buzzing right now, but I liked the fact that you really gave thought and into why this matters.
Jake Bilbro 34:46
Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more about the term sustainability. It’s so nebulous. I think oftentimes will can be pulled over the consumers eyes about it. There’s so many different ways you can slice and dice something. It’s kind of similar not to toot my own horn, but it’s kind of similar to the term old vine in the industry there for decades, there was no definition to old vine in when you would label the wine. But when you would make an old vine Zinfandel as opposed to as Zinfandel, you could charge more because there was a perception of quality. I didn’t like that, because who knew how old it was. And so at Limerick lane, we actually told you just how old it was, we made the 1910 block those, that wine is made from a vineyard and from vines that are 113 years old now, you know, and we made a 1930 floor block, we we made a 1970 block we, we chose on every chance where there was a potential old vine situation we just said, we’re gonna say exactly how old it is, and let the consumer decide. And so with rebel shine with what we’re doing now, and extreme opportunity, within the sustainability, you know, aspect of this brand, you know, we’re a part of 1% for the planet, I promote it as often as possible, but we really try to use actually, that’s, that’s a really important, important part of our brand. As I as I referenced and alluded to, if I sat here at Jacy and just give you statistic after statistic and data point after data point, you know, your eyes would soon start to glaze over. We’ve all heard enough about the importance of recycling, and we’ve all heard about that. I think something that most differentiates us is the fact that we brought on some of whom you’ve met, you know, the premier athletes within the surf mountain world as well as musicians who all are Equity Partners and co-founders and this brand with us. That was really intentional because you know, I can tell you stories all I want but you know if if we have Emily Harrington that one of the leading female rock climbers in the world, Jeremy Jones, one of the leading, you know, snowboarders and founder of protect our winters, Shane Dorian, one of the top surfers in the world, Selema Masekela you know, the list goes on and on. But to have them as cofounding partners in this with us, they can speak to the importance and their love of the outdoors in a way, because they’ve committed their entire life to that. And to say it in a really blunt way they can make sustainability and recycling. Much more interesting to the average consumer and I possibly could.
Jacy Topps 37:27
I love that. Yeah. So yes, you do have an assortment of pro athletes who are co-founders. Who yes, I’ve been I was very lucky to meet, got surfing lessons and everything’s so exciting. Best day of my life.
Jake Bilbro 37:45
Just remember, I was the one who swam you out there, Jacy. I handed you off to Shane, I believe, or Dane Gudauskas. But remember, I was the one that swam you out there.
Jacy Topps 37:56
I mean, watch out, I might become the next pro surfer. You never know.
Jake Bilbro 38:00
It think it’s in the cards.
Jacy Topps 38:03
Why did you decide to bring on such an eclectic group of athletes?
Jake Bilbro 38:09
That was the world that we live in. Again, my wife and I are avid outdoors people. And over time we had met this group of people at various events and in the things that we did, even in my world, you know, with traditional line, I found that I kept gravitating towards meeting musicians and athletes, even when I was at those high profile events with celebrities and others, I somehow kept on ending up over with the with with the athletes. And what we thought about was well, and we alluded to this earlier in our in our talk the potential oversaturation and or cliche Enos of a celebrity wine. And so, our goal was absolutely not to bring these people on in a way where it would seem like we were authentically using them to promote our brand. But these are true friends of ours, they’re there, we authentically share all of the same common interests and values. And I think that you saw that in spades that weekend we serve together we see together we we share our lives together, we both have the same passion of outdoors. And we found that we all like to celebrate together too. And so, when I even softly floated out the idea of with any one of them like to become a part of this with us, you know, they all jumped and said yes, we believe in this. And when we then went further and really showed how much of a difference, we could make in terms of the reduction of a carbon footprint with this wine. They really jumped because they care about the environment. They care about their playgrounds. And so, as an offshoot of that, you know, not only do we get to have really wonderful experiences like you got to have with us We’re we’re just out celebrating and enjoying life together. But we do have a very powerful way of promoting this brand that you know, not everyone does. And they are their true founders. They are truly a part of this. You know, from the very inception.
Jacy Topps 40:15
I’m curious where the name Revelshine came from?
Jake Bilbro 40:19
Revelstoke is my favorite ski resort in British Columbia. And you know, the other part, of course, assembling is everything does goes back to my dad. He was a huge music lover. He never took lessons. But he could play the piano, he could play the guitar, he could play the harmonica he gave and played the accordion. Although he was taught accordion lessons when he was a little boy, he could do that. And I would say, in the midst of all that he and I shared together, music kind of was the fabric within which everything else was shared. drawing up in the winery, there was always music playing when we were working, cooking meals and dinners together. We always had music playing, we used to take drives around the valley at night. It’s just It was everything. And we would always share new artists with each other, etc. A kind of seminal song that he and I shared was a song that was written by the Allman Brothers, called Soul shine. You gotta let your soul shine. It’s, it’s better than sunshine. It’s better than moonshine, and it’s damn sure better than rain. And so, you know, kind of taking everything that he taught me, taking my love for the outdoors, and then looking at the fact that every single term or word in the English language is trademarked, I realized that we probably had to come up with a name in order to actually be able to have something that was wasn’t trademarked. And then I also wanted something that felt really authentic. And so revel shine it was,
Jacy Topps 41:51
I love that and the wine is so good. I, I was actually shocked. You know, I think nowadays, canned wine is getting a lot better. But I think people do have preconceived notions about canned wine. And I remember tasting it and like I was, I was tasting the red wine for the first time. And I made this face of shock. And my wife was like, surprised? And I said, yes, this is so good. I mean, the wine is really, really great. And like, I think people need to hear that. Like, it’s great that your focus is on sustainability. But it’s really great wine too.
Jake Bilbro 42:30
I love that. And I love that when we had our weekend you brought your wife that because, as I said, I brought my wife and my children, and it was about family. And I love that Emily and Adrienne brought their little boy. And I love that it was a weekend of families getting together. I didn’t want to overlook that fact of how meaningful it was that we all got to share that experience together it you know, technically you and I were working, but we got to, you know, we all got to get our families together, which is, which is at the core of what we do, in that I also love that you had that experience with the wine.
Jake Bilbro 43:07
Again, I agree with you that canned wine is getting a lot better. But I think one of the ways that canned wine missed the mark, in addition to not realizing the utility and more selling wine based on the novelty of the packaging. I think that canned wine at first, both because people were learning and figuring out how to bottle wine and that type of packaging. But I think also I think that they put a style of wine in the bottle that that didn’t align with my tastes. And I wanted to put really good wine in the bottle. And I wanted people to have the exact reaction that you did, and I wanted them to go, wow, I think that that’s core to it, you know, I, I don’t, I don’t like sweet wine. None of our wines are sweet, they have no residual sugar in them. And like the red wine in particular, that always makes me smile the most because there is a and the white wine and the sparkling, which you didn’t get to try that day. But those wines I have a little bit of a of a, an ace in the hole, because I can get them cold. And so, when those wines are cooled, regardless of how good they are there, they just kind of go down a little bit easier. You know a cold rose you know, no one’s gonna complain about that. But the red wine, I couldn’t do that. And so that’s actually always been my favorite wine. Because I’ve, I’ve now been able to pour that wine for a lot of people and a lot of really wine knowledgeable people who that eyebrow raising moment where they go, Wow. Is is really, really meaningful for me, because yeah, we’re putting real wine in this. And, again, it’s a better package, but we are not forsaking the fact that are forgetting the fact that at the heart of this is the wine that we’re offering. And so we’re offering really, really good wine and what I consider very much to be a better package.
Jacy Topps 44:55
Is this a direct-to-consumer product or are we going to be able to find Revelshine find in stores? How was that working?
Jake Bilbro 45:03
Very much so. So that’s something that I think is also fairly unique to what we’re doing, I would agree with you that that, quote, traditional canned wine is getting better. And I’ve purchased wine, you know, direct from producers, that has been, you know, really surprising the wines that they’re putting in their cans. And I do believe that it’s getting better. But one of the things that I see in those is those are, those are small producers putting really great wine, you know, out there, but they’re not able to scale them, the kinds of wines that they’re making, etc. They couldn’t necessarily scale or make more of. And so, what I’m trying to do is really split that difference where I want to put that level of quality into our bottle. But I want to make wines that are scalable. And so, you know, making a sparkling Carignan or making other things, amazing wines, really cool wines, wines that I love to try. And I love the fact that they were in aluminum, I certainly poured them in a secondary tumbler, but I love that fact. But I couldn’t. Those are not styles of wines that can be scalable. And so what we’re trying to do, again, is, you know, we’ve signed with one of the largest distributors in the country, and as you met and saw that night and, and our goal is to really have this wine be available in consumers, corner wine shops, grocery stores, have it really be out there, we can scale these wines at the quality that we make them we can we can grow. And that felt like the most different use of the S word. But that felt like the most sustainable option for us. And actually, you know, if you really want to have a sustainable brand, you need to have a sustainable business. And that needs to be economically sustainable. And so, for us to really get this to a place where we could continue to do it. What we what we learned was that it had to be, you know, we had to have this in distribution and grow it in order to really get it to a place where it would be able to sustain for a long term. Jake, I have one more question for you. Yes, ma’am.
Jacy Topps 47:12
When you are not opening up a bottle of Revelshine? What are you drinking? What’s in your glass these days?
Jake Bilbro 47:21
That is a good question. You know, everything about wine to me, and I think that going all the way back to it with the life that I was fortunate to have been raised, you know, by my with, along with my family, you know, with my dad. Wine is a story. It’s such a beautiful tapestry. There’s, there’s something to me about the fact that this industry, while there are all of these new things, and new ways out there, we’re still basically making a product, which is grape juice that’s gone bad. The vast majority of what we’re doing hasn’t changed in 1000s of years, yes, we are able to make wines better through, you know, fermentation practice through, you know, better technology and everything else. But the way that we do, it really hasn’t changed. And something that I love, is I love walking in vineyards. And I love pruning, because you can see every year prior to that, where someone made a decision to permanently or prior, and it’s almost like an unbroken chain. And I can look back and I can think about what was somebody doing 10 years ago, 20 years ago, longer than that. And it’s a story.
Jake Bilbro 48:36
And so, for me with what I’m doing and with the cofounders that we’ve brought on with this, I’m hoping that we’re telling a story that people relate to and they enjoy and I hope that we can give them a great quality product. I hope that we can give them a great package. But I really hope we can give them a story that they can connect to and it makes their life a little bit richer. And so in that regard, the wines that I drink, have stories to them. And so if it’s wines that my brothers make, you know, my brother Sam and Idlewild, my brother Scott at Marietta Cellers, if it’s wines that my friends make, you know, Clay Mauritson at Mauritson Winery. If it’s Mark McWilliams at Arista. If it’s Morgan Twain-Peterson at Bedrock. Mike Officer at Carlyle or Limerick Lane. you know. Those are all stories that I have a connection to, and that they that same line if it were made by someone I didn’t know or if that short story weren’t shared with me, you know, it just wouldn’t taste as good. And it doesn’t have to be people that I know I’m, I am a sucker for the Northern Rhone, and, you know, the few times in my life that I’ve been able to really dig into a bottle of hermitage. I wonder if the wine really tastes as good as I think it does. Or if it’s because I’m just so in love with the story of that family.
Jacy Topps 49:55
Jacy Topps 49:56
I love that.
Jake Bilbro 49:57
And and so, to me You know what’s in my glass is almost secondary to what’s the story of, you know why I’m drinking it and I will peruse a wine shop, I’ll, I’ll go meet an owner I’ll go try a canned wine. I’ll go try a wine out of a bag in the box. I’ll go try and if there’s a story behind it, whether that be a story of sustainability or a story of history or a story of family, or, you know, if I know that story, that wine always seems to taste better.
Jacy Topps 50:28
Thank you for sharing your story, Jake.
Jake Bilbro 50:31
Thank you, Jacy. I’m glad that you’re a part of my story.
Jacy Topps 50:38
With its numerous benefits, it’s no wonder the category that started 20 years ago has only grown. Canned wine defies the misconception that wine is only for stemware. It’s incredibly sustainable. And it helps us enjoy wine in the great outdoors. And now the evolution of the category has brought us game-changing brands, like Revelshine. What are your thoughts? If you liked today’s episode, we’d love to read your reviews and hear what you think. And hey, why not tell your wild loving friends to check us out to remember, you can subscribe to this podcast on Apple, Google, Spotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. You can also go to wine enthusiast.com backslash podcasts. For more episodes and transcripts. I’m Jacy Topps. Thanks for listening
Last Updated: July 12, 2023
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