Inspired by the spirit of the wild horses that once freely roamed eastern Washington state,14 Hands Wines has shown the same adventurous nature as it helps disrupt the traditional wine market with packaging and limited-edition innovation.
According to Amanda Wygal, 14 Hands’ director of brand marketing, the number 14 pays homage to the height of the eastern Washington wild horses, which measured “14 hands” tall.
“These tenacious little horses had immense strength and energy, traveling over 20 miles down from the hills every day to drink from the Columbia River and graze along the riverbank, then return to the hills at night,” Wygal says. “Our winemakers embody the curiosity, creativity and spirited nature of these wild horses, creating balanced and approachable wines that showcase the beautiful flavors curated from fruit grown in Washington state.”
Adapting to consumer demand also has been critical to 14 Hands’ success. Launched in 2005 with three restaurant-only wines, patrons consistently asked where to buy the wine they enjoyed by the glass. In 2010, the brand entered the off-premise market, opening its winery and tasting room five years later in Prosser, Wash.
By 2017, the brand reached 2 million cases in the national market and, in 2018, turned a horse trailer into a wine bar, after which the “14 Hands Run Free Road Trip” toured the country pouring frosé wine and other varietals.
Embracing the same curious spirit that drives its varietal creations, the winery recognized the rising popularity of canned wine market and the opportunities it could deliver the brand. As a result, 14 Hands introduced 375-ml canned wines in 2019, helping the brand’s expansion into the convenience store channel.
“The addition of cans to the lineup offered existing 14 Hands fans a new way to enjoy the same great wines they know and love, except in a package suitable for their active lifestyles,” Wygal says. “It also allowed new consumers to discover the 14 Hands brand, specifically younger wine drinkers just beginning their wine journey.”
This entry into a new packaging format proved to be an immediate success for 14 Hands as the brand became the top canned wine sold at 7-Eleven stores, Wygal says. The brand has since taken its cans a step further by releasing a limited-edition Unicorn Rosé Bubbles, which coincided with National Unicorn Day (April 9).
“We are always considering ways to adapt and evolve to meet our consumers where they are,” Wygal says. “Looking forward, based on industry trends and current 2020 canned wine category performance, we anticipate that the category will continue to grow, and 14 Hands customers will continue to appreciate the flexibility of enjoying our delicious wines wherever their adventures take them.”
Wygal says that, amidst the current environment, they have amped up their virtual presence via live conversations on Instagram, including tie-dye tutorials or games where their Instagram followers choose their favorite junk foods to pair with 14 Hands wines.
“We are incredibly sensitive to the stress and uncertainty people everywhere are feeling, but also recognize our consumers may be interested in some lighter content and ways to engage with others from the safety of their homes,” she says. “14 Hands plans to continue to strive to deliver the same trailblazing spirit we’re known for in every aspect of what we do, from product innovation to the content we create for our customers. We keep each other going.”