Sonoma County’s Vintage Wine Estates Acquires Cannabis Brands Under Alternative Beverage Program

Vintage Wine Estates takes a big step into non-wine adult beverages with the acquisition of two cannabis-infused beverage brands, plans to launch a third, and the hiring of a senior executive from a major North Coast cannabis products company to oversee the effort.

The Santa Rosa-based West Coast wine group announced Thursday that it has acquired the intellectual property of Gem + Jane from CannaCraft, also based in Santa Rosa. It is a sparkling water for women infused with plants and THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis.

Vintage has also hired Tracey Mason, former director of strategy and innovation at CannaCraft, to lead a new portfolio of alternative beverages.

Called NexDrinx, the wallet will be led by ACE Cider, originally a Sevastopol-made brand that Vintage acquired in November. This purchase was part of a series of acquisitions since its initial public offering in early June 2021 that set up Vintage with a greater direct-to-consumer presence and positioned the company with a production center for the coast. East.

The company also plans to leverage the brand’s national distribution to launch hemp CBD-infused dealcoholized ACE ciders.

Vintage plans to reformulate Gem + Jane so that it can be distributed nationwide, instead of being limited to dispensaries, as has been the case since its launch last year. The drinks will be infused with hemp CBD and adaptogens, which are herbs or mushrooms touted by Eastern medicine for their health properties.

Another addition to the NexDrinx portfolio was House of Saka, a line of ultrapremium non-alcoholic THC and CBD-infused beverages made from Napa Valley grapes, co-founded by Cynthia Salarizadeh and Mason in 2018. The Business Journal reported disagreement on l next year between House of Saka and CannaCraft on the co-production of this drink.

CannaCraft helped Lagunitas Brewing Co. reformulate its HiFi Hops drink to have flavors and a lower dose of THC.

Terry Weatley, chairman of CannaCraft’s board since 2019, said shortly after being named chairman of Vintage last year that the wine company was “exploring innovative beverage projects that bring the worlds of wine and cannabis together. “.

Pat Roney, Founder and CEO of Vintage, shared a similar vision for the two.

“We believe alternative beverages share many synergies with wine, and developing a product category adjacent to our wine business presents an opportunity for further growth with diversification,” Roney said in the announcement. “While we are still primarily a wine business, by leveraging our operational expertise in new categories, we believe we are creating greater value as a business.”

This effort parallels moves by even bigger players in adult beverages. For example, New York-based Constellation Brands, which owns North Coast labels such as Robert Mondavi, has invested in Hop Wtr, a brand of hops-infused alcohol-free sparkling water.

The non-alcoholic segment of alcoholic beverages has grown by about a third a year over the past two years, according to NielsenIQ.

For the 12 months to last fall, sales of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption totaled $3.1 billion, up 10.4% from last year. ‘last year. This growth was led by soft drinks, up 33.2% to $331 million, compared to growth of 8.1% for low-alcohol drinks ($2.77 billion).

According to a consumer study by the IWSR, 58% of non-alcoholic or low-alcohol drinkers said they had switched between these drinks and non-alcoholic drinks on the same occasion.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before joining the Business Journal in 1999, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. Contact him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.


Correction, May 6, 2022: Hop Wtr does not contain cannabis.

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