BUSHIDO Sake goes mainstream at SF music festivals this summer, outsells rosé


BUSHIDO Sake goes mainstream at SF music festivals this summer, outsells roséSake continues to go mainstream with growing popularity at summer music and comedy festivals, a phenomenon that reflects the category’s overall growth in recent years.

The popularity of Bushido “Way of the Warrior” Sake Cans at Comedy Central’s inaugural Colossal Clusterfest in San Francisco in June and Bushido’s addition to Wine Lands at Outside Lands in August is representative of consumers’ acceptance of the beverage outside of traditional sushi restaurant settings.

BUSHIDO Sake goes mainstream at SF music festivals this summer, outsells rosé“At Comedy Central’s inaugural Colossal Clusterfest in San Francisco this June, Bushido sake cans outsold glasses of rosé and Chardonnay,” says Peter Eastlake, Owner at Vintage Berkeley & Solano Cellars and Director of Wine Programming at Wine Lands. “It has great branding which seems to attract all eyes, and the quality of the product (even the artisanal feeling of the cans) kept festival goers coming back for more. It was a smash hit, and in a wine bar no less.”

This is also the second year that Wine Lands, the popular wine tasting heart of San Francisco’s August music festival Outside Lands, will be adding sake to their lineup. Bushido “Way of the Warrior” Sake Cans join 45 wineries (mostly Californian) that are selling tastes and glass sized pours of their wines. Outside Lands expects a daily attendance of 80k festival goers.

Wine Lands founder Peter Eastlake is confident that Bushido’s Japanese sake will be a popular new option. “For the past ten years, Wine Lands has always been a top festival experience. We believe that Bushido’s premium canned sake is a great addition to share with our crowd of wine and music enthusiasts,” says Eastlake.

Bushido’s success at this year’s summer festivals comes at a time when U.S. consumer interest in premium sake is on the rise. Sake in general is up 6.7% percent in value and 5.3% in volume in 2016 versus 2015 per Nielsen data. According to the USDA, overall Japanese sake imports to the U.S. are also experiencing a two-year rolling, twelve-month compound annual growth rate of 7.7% as of April 2017. Canned wine sales in general are up 125.2% in value in the 52 weeks ending June 18, 2016, according to Nielsen data.

Vine Connections, the importer and U.S. sales and marketing agent for Bushido, is experiencing complementary growth across their entire sake portfolio with sake sales up 17% over the last 12 months ending in April, and sakes sale up 16% 2-Year Rolling 12-month CAGR. Their two biggest brands, Tozai and Rihaku, are up 17% and 15% over the last twelve months ending in April, respectively.

“When we started importing sake 16 years ago, we had great interest from pan-Asian restaurants as well as very high-end white table cloth places. Consumers’ eagerness to enjoy sake outside of traditional Japanese restaurant settings has continued to fill in the rest. The success of Bushido “Way of the Warrior” Sake Cans at festivals this summer is another example of the evolution of consumer interest in this category,” says Ed Lehrman, co-founder and Managing Partner of Vine Connections.


Bushido “Way of the Warrior” Sake Can features premium Ginjo Genshu grade sake that is brewed by the prestigious Kizakura brewery in Kyoto, Japan, the birthplace of sake. Bushido’s new canned sake has a “Ginjo” milling rate, which is higher than most sakes currently offered in cans in the U.S. Bushido’s “Genshu” designation indicates that the beverage is undiluted at 18% alcohol. This sake exhibits notes of tart raspberry, Asian pear, and watermelon rind with a hint of white flowers and a spicy finish. This beverage comes in a 180ml can with a suggested retail price of $6. Launched March 2017 and currently in 17 select markets; nationwide by Fall 2017.


Founded in 1999 by Ed Lehrman and Nick Ramkowsky, Vine Connections pioneered the first nationally imported portfolio of artisan wines from Argentina and soon after introduced the US to a premium selection of Japanese ginjo sake. In 2013, they launched “The New Chile,” a diverse, high-quality, appellation-based portfolio of boutique Chilean wine. The company represents the largest portfolio of boutique Argentine and Chilean wineries in the United States with almost 70 wines and 20 brands produced by some of South America’s most highly regarded winemakers and viticulturists. Their small domestic portfolio is a collection of some of California’s most exciting people-driven wines. Vine Connections also represents 16 of Japan’s finest sake breweries that produce some of the world’s best artisan chilled sake. Vine Connections is headquartered in Sausalito, California.