INDEX-TRIBUNE MANAGING EDITOR
March 3, 2021, 8:00PM
Updated 40 minutes ago
The taste of cabernet or chardonnay without the alcohol? There’s good news coming out of Kenwood for teetolalers or anyone who enjoys wine but doesn’t want an alcoholic drink.
Sonoma Valley-based G-Zee Brands has launched H2O Sonoma Soft Seltzer, which founder Georgos Zanganas bills as the world’s first wine-infused non-alcoholic sparkling water.
The project is a partnership between founder Zanganas and longtime Deerfield Ranch winemaker and owner Robert Rex.
“People want an alternative to wine,” says Zanganas. “There are people who don’t want to drink for religious reasons, athletes, women who are pregnant, or those who just want to reduce their consumption.”
Zanganas and Rex got the idea for the new beverage while pouring wine and talking to customers at a Whole Foods at the end of 2020.
“While pouring, we get to check out developments of other product lines,“ Rex told the Index-Tribune. ”We were watching the boom in no/low alcohol drinks as well as the rise in popularity of seltzers. But there was nothing out there like this.“
H2O is mineral rich well water infused with de-alcoholized wine made from 100 percent California varietal wine grapes and natural flavor extracts, says Zanganas. “The alcohol is stripped out so natural extracts are then added, as well as vitamins and potassium and calcium.”
“The drink provides the nuanced flavor of the wine but is refreshing – it reminds you of wine but is light,” said Zanganas. “This is what to drink when you’re not drinking.”
Beer, wine and spirits companies around the world are scrambling to cater to a growing population of teetotalers.
Longtime Sonoma resident Jody Purdom says that she has cut back on her wine consumption over the years but the last time she tried them, she didn’t enjoy the few non-alcoholic wines that were widely available.
“It would really be great if someone could bring a wine to market that was no, or even low, alcohol that was palatable,” she said. She recommends hop water – Lagunitas makes one – “as it’s tasty and has no alcohol.”
Beer companies have experimented with non-alcoholic recipes for years. Anyone who has survived Dry January can vouch for variations in success. Currently Beck’s Blue and Heineken 00 are the top-selling labels, but dozens more brands have recently thrown their hats into the ring. According to a 2019 Morning Advertiser Report, the low and non-alcoholic sector is the fastest growing part of the world beer market.
Diageo now owns the 4-year-old British company Seedlip, which bills itself as the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits. Other fast-growing players in the alcohol-free spirits category include Apolos, Ritual Zero Proof, Amass, Kin Euphorics, Lyres and Monday.
“Nobody yet has a product like this in wine, however,” said Zanganas. “Wine is great but some people don’t have the power to stop. This gives them an alternative.”
“My team and I have been making wine for nearly a half-century, focusing on the subtle flavor nuances that make a wine truly great,” said Rex. “It is the inclusion of these subtle flavor essences from our favorite wine grape varietals that makes H2O Sonoma Soft Seltzer so innovative and exciting.”
Zanganas is particularly proud of the science and market research behind H2O. During the brand’s development, he enlisted professors at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to study both their recipe and the market demand for a nonalcoholic beverage of this type.
“Their peer-reviewed papers confirmed both the nutrients and that the market is ready for this,” he said.
H2O currently offers rose, sauvingnon blanc and pinot noir. Moscato, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, and zinfandel will be released in 2021. All varietals are served chilled.
A 16-ounce can of H2O – two generous servings – has a total of 30 to 60 calories and no added sugar. It contains electrolytes, potassium and calcium — with no detectable sulfites, gluten, artificial flavors or artificial sweeteners. Each serving also has 100 percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C and B12.
H2O retails for around $5 per can, or $20 for a four-pack, and is available on Amazon Prime and at Deerfield Ranch, with additional local retailers to follow.
Contact Lorna at firstname.lastname@example.org.