Those Who Can, Do: Niebaum-Coppola Packages Sofia in Aluminum

Sofia Mini sparkling wine targets Sex and the City set

Apr 28, 2004

With the success of her last film, Lost in Translation, writer/director Sofia Coppola's name is appearing everywhere these days, from movie marquees to magazine newsstands. You can even find it on an aluminum can of sparkling wine. That's right: a can.

The Sofia Mini—187ml of Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine packaged in a bold pink can—is produced by Niebaum-Coppola Winery in Napa Valley, owned by Sofia's father, director Francis Ford Coppola. It joins labels such as Pommery's Pop and Piper-Heidsieck's Baby Piper (both come in 187ml bottles) in a new niche: single-serving bubbly aimed at the nightclub crowd and often sipped through a straw.

Niebaum-Coppola president Erle Martin said the Sofia Mini is the winery's attempt to reach new customers. The target audience is "the Sex and the City crowd," Martin said. "A 20-something, predominantly female, sophisticated, urban market, rather than the established wine consumer. The idea is to take some of the intimidation out of wine."

Packaging fine sparkling wine in a can is a radical idea, Martin acknowledged. "Francis has made a career of going with his gut and we just decided to run with it," he said. "The wine industry is going to need innovative, user-friendly packaging if it's going to grow."

The winery has produced Sofia in a traditional 750ml champagne bottles for some time. The current release—the 2003 Blanc de Blancs, a blend of mostly Pinot Blanc with some Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat added in, sells for $19 and is the same wine canned in the Sofia Mini, Martin said. The wine is produced from grapes grown in Monterey.

Neibaum-Coppola produced 5,000 cases for the test run—with 24 cans per case—and it sold quickly enough that production is expanding rapidly, Martin said. The cans retail for $5 each, or in four-packs for $20. For more retail information, see www.sofiamini.com.

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