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Bridge Lane in Mattituck becomes first North Fork winery to can wine

Todd Lunderborg, left, and Jake Nielsen use a

Todd Lunderborg, left, and Jake Nielsen use a mobile canning unit to can the North Fork's first canned wine, Bridge Lane Rosé in Mattituck. Credit: Newsday / Corin Hirsch

If you’ve ever you’ve looked around furtively while opening a bottle of wine at the beach, Bridge Lane of Mattituck has your back.

About a year ago, the Bridge Lane team began considering aluminum. “It was summer, and since we all live near the beach, we were talking about how sweet it would be to throw some Bridge Lane cans into our coolers and not have to worry about glass bottles, or even cups,” said Ami Opisso, general manager for Lieb Cellars, which owns Bridge Lane.

On Monday, after a busy year of R & D, Bridge Lane Rosé became the first North Fork wine end up in cans.

Bridge Lane was already a North Fork pioneer when it came to packaging, offering its dry, fruit-forward wines, which are meant to be sipped when young, in kegs and boxes. In the meantime, canned wine with funky labels had been gaining steam among West Coast wineries — a trend forged in part by canned craft beers, as well as Gen-Y’s penchant for convenience and sustainability. “Alternative formats are our thing,” Opisso said. Since Bridge Lane’s boxed and kegged wine has consistently done well both sales-wise and in blind tastings, “It gave us the confidence to move forward.”

A bumpy year of research lay ahead, however. Did Bridge Lane have enough power and space to accommodate a canning operation? What kinds of cans, and what size cans, would work best? Could the wines survive a monthlong “corrosivity test”? “My nails were bitten off that month,” Opisso said.

Earlier this week, all systems were finally go. A mobile canning crew from Anvil Craft Services arrived at Lieb on Monday, turning out 1,700 cans of Bridge Lane Rosé in 375 milliliter containers — essentially, half bottles.

The bad news, for most of us, is that the canned rosé is only available to members of the Bridge Lane wine club, and will probably be spoken for by week’s end. The good news is that next year, after a bit more research, all five Bridge Lane wines will meet the can: White merlot, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, their Red Blend, and of course, rosé. “It’s been a long road, but we’ve learned a lot along the way,” Opisso said.

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