As an investor, it’s easiest to get excited about a business when the founders are solving a problem that you’ve previously faced, or are currently facing.
When I joined BrandProject this past January, I was just getting into month 4 of my 2nd pregnancy. Between my 1st pregnancy and now, I’ve been largely sober for the past 3 years. I found solace in some of the non-alcoholic beverage options that exist today – non-alcoholic beers like Partake and non-alcoholic spirits like Seedlip were among my go-to’s – but, despite all of my searching and sampling, I hadn’t yet found anything that scratched the itch of a decent glass of wine in a non-alcoholic format.
When I stumbled upon Acid League’s Wine Proxies during my 1st month on the job, I was intrigued. I learned that Wine Proxies are layered blends of juices, teas, spices, bitters, with all the complexity of great wine, and none of the alcohol. Wine Proxies don’t necessarily taste exactly like any specific wine, but they’re made to look, feel, and drink like wine – they have acidity, texture, tannin, and spice, which allow them to pair well with food. Our team had recently become familiar with the Acid League brand as one of our team members had been gifted their “experimental vinegars” over Christmas and really enjoyed cooking with them. Acid League looked to be a highly innovative food and beverage company launching new products in otherwise stale and overlooked categories, injected with lots of creativity, innovation and passion.
Our hunch was validated when met two of the founders, Scott Friedmann and Cole Pearsall, on a zoom call. Their drive to innovate was abundantly clear. The team, led by Scott who had a strong track record in innovation, had a team of dedicated food scientists committed to formulating products to disrupt the pantry aisle of the grocery store at the core. Vinegars, dressings, hot sauces, and non-alcoholic wines were among the first of several categories the team were incubating.
The team was already off to a great start since their August 2020 launch, with national distribution in Whole Foods, and strong demand in direct-to-consumer through Wine Proxies. Co-developed by Devin Campbell, an experienced wine maker who spent years producing wine for both large and boutique wineries in France, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, Wine Proxies are currently offered monthly (via either subscription or standalone order). So far, 9 wine proxies have been introduced, with a growing loyal base of consumers who appreciate the sophistication and complexity of wine, but without the alcohol. With 52% of U.S. adults actively trying to drink less, and with 30% of U.S. adults who don’t drink at all, it’s no wonder the initial set of wine proxies sold out within 5 days of launch and have continued to sell out each month.
Wine Proxies was certainly the product segment that got my teetotaling attention initially, but our team at BrandProject have been amazed at Acid League’s ability to create, test, and launch new concepts so quickly under this unique platform of “all things acid”.
We are thrilled to partner with the Acid League team alongside our fellow investor InvestEco, as they, raise C$4.8 million to create a multitude of new flavor profiles and product offerings that cross a mix of categories. We’re excited to support the Acid League team as they continue to surprise and delight their fast-growing fan base.
 “Non-Alc in 2020 and Beyond”, Distill Ventures. https://www.distillventures.com/insights-and-trends/non-alcoholic-in-2020-and-beyond