Multi-talented actress and director Elizabeth Banks has a solution for anyone who feels the wine world is not as fun as it should be — embrace wine from a can. Along with starring in the recently-released ‘Call Jane‘ and directing the upcoming 2023 film ‘Cocaine Bear,’ one of her latest projects is Archer Roose, which produces wines in cans from Italy, France, Chile and Argentina. I spoke with Banks about the challenges of this wine category, bonding with Sigourney Weaver over Aperol Spritzes and just when will someone finally buy her a ticket to Italy?
What was your introduction to wine and spirits?
My grandfather was a traveling salesman and he carried his own little bar right in a beautiful leather case. When he came through he would visit us and he would set it up. He loved Manhattans, so inside of it was sweet vermouth and usually something like a Seagram’s VO and a little bitters. And I was taught to make that drink by my grandfather when I was like eight. But I didn’t try them back then.
Do you drink Manhattans now?
I very much enjoy a Manhattan nowadays. I love brown liquor, so I like Scotch and Whiskey and Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. I’m a big fan of High West Distillery. I have a house in Utah so I’ve been drinking High West for a long time. They make a really delicious sipper called A Midwinter Nights Dram. Their Rendezvous Rye I love too. I like a little spice in my drinks.
When did you start enjoying wine?
In my mid-twenties. Once I had a little money and I was going to nice dinners there was a lot of wine. I was trying to feel fancy but never quite living up. Hence why I support wine in a can nowadays. Because it’s like the opposite of wine shaming.
Was that a general feeling or was there a particular wine shaming incident that’s left scars?
It was more just a look down the nose kind of a thing by a sommelier. I always felt if you weren’t interested in the most expensive bottle then you weren’t interesting to them. I was like you have to convince me why I would spend this much money on a bottle of wine when my palate says the $30 one tastes good to me. Sommeliers nowadays are much cooler.
How did you go from surviving sommeliers to becoming involved with Archer Roose?
I was looking for business opportunities and I got a text from a friend saying “I feel like canned wine is really you. No offense.” And I was like (laughing) no offense taken, that is definitely very much me. I happened to be in Utah at the time and they sent me a case to try. We were going for a river float and ‘oh I can pop this in the cooler.’ Then we went for a hike and I could pop it in the backpack. I could sit and have this while my kids have their tennis lessons. I just saw how it fit into my lifestyle authentically.
Then I met (owner) Marian Leitner-Waldman and I was so impressed by her and this idea of changing the format for wine. And how it was going to be a challenge, partially because we’re a women-fronted group in the spirits industry which does not have a lot of female-fronted companies. But that’s what I do in my life as an actor, director and activist anyway. We’re gonna be up against something? Great! I love that. If there’s not a seat at the table for us let’s bring our own table.
Your official title is Chief Creative Officer.
I’m the CCO! One of the things that we’re trying to do is not take the category so seriously, right? It’s not just Archer Roose — how do we create the category of canned wine that’s appealing across the board? It’s about getting people to understand the sustainability of cans and that canned wine can be delicious, that you can do it at the source and that everything you expect in a great wine you can get in a can — and that requires a story. So honestly I’m the chief storyteller. I help create the marketing campaigns and work with our partners to help them understand where our wine drinkers are and how to talk to them and what story to tell them. It’s resulted in some incredible achievements: our Target deal, Delta, and before that JetBlue.
Which Archer Roose wines are you enjoying most?
I love a lot of Italian things, so I love an Aperol Spritz or a Negroni Sbagliato with our bubbly in it. And I love rosé.
Have you traveled to Italy with the brand?
Not yet. A couple of the women in the group got to go to Italy and do some tastings when we were trying to figure out which vintners we were going to work with. And I was like when do I get to go on the trips? I can’t wait to go on the trips. That’s stage three or five or something.
Any memorable time you’ve gotten to share wine with one of your idols?
It just happened on ‘Call Jane’ the movie I have out right now with Sigourney Weaver. I mean Sigourney Weaver — icon in my industry, one of the women I’ve looked up to as an actor. I had never met her before we went to that set. And she sent me an email and I was like oh my God I’m getting an email from Sigourney Weaver. It was so exciting. We actually drank Archer Roose wine and Aperol Spritzes with our bubbly. It was dinner in her apartment and it was divine, a fond memory forever and really bonding for us.
What did you think of the timing of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision coming out soon before ‘Call Jane’ was released?
I think the midterm elections have proven that women enjoy their human rights and we vote. The whole point of ‘Call Jane’ is to take the politics out of healthcare and to recenter women in the conversation. And I think that’s exactly what the country wants right now. It’s what the majority of people want, which is not to have politicians in the doctor’s office.
What’s next for Archer Roose?
We want to be everywhere! It’s all about distribution. We’re the stadium wine in Los Angeles for the National Women’s Soccer League. And that to me is really special because it’s aligned with our values and supporting that league, supporting the female athletes. You try our wine in the stadium and then I want you to be able to go to Target and say ‘oh yeah, that’s the Moose one.’ I just love making connections through wine for the consumer. That’s what I’m most excited about.
My college friend David Wain directed one of your first films ‘Wet Hot American Summer.’ Any stories I can embarrass him with?
I took David on the USO tour with me in 2015. We went all around the world with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He and I kind of hosted it together and it was an absolutely incredible experience. We got to go to Afghanistan, Dubai, everywhere. It was just wonderful, the fact that I could call up someone like David and say ‘you can entertain these guys. You’ll do standup, magic and sing and dance with me. Will you come?’ And that he said yes was just incredible. We had the best time.
Once Archer Roose approves you for travel, where would you like to go?
I want to go south. Like Argentina. I’ve not really spent any time in South America other than I went to the Olympics in Rio and that’s it. I would like to go there and see what we find.