As the “sober conscious” movement grows, more and more consumers are finding themselves seeking non-alcoholic options for a backyard barbecues or girls’ nights out. Sovi, a sommelier-owned startup that originated in eLab, Cornell University student startup accelerator, is making a splash in the world of non-alcoholic wine.
Founded by husband-and-wife team – and wine lovers – Alex and Julia Littauer while they each earned their MBA at Cornell’s SC Johnson Graduate School of Management, Sovi allows anyone to enjoy wine without the hangover.
“Our goal at Sovi is to grow an authentic non-alcoholic wine segment,” says co-founder Alex Littauer. “So whether you are the DD, the marathon runner, the early riser, the parent-afraid-of-a-hangover, or the water-between-wines friend, grab a glass and enjoy.”
Julia, a certified sommelier, was in a wine marketing class at Cornell when a guest speaker spoke to the rising trend of non-alcoholic wines. Inspiration struck, and the Littauers saw the opportunity to break into an untapped market with large potential. They realized that there were many occasions where they wanted to enjoy a glass of delicious wine, but without the side effects of drinking alcohol. In talking to family and friends, they found that many of them felt the same way. While there were several non-alcoholic beers on the market, very few options for non-alcoholic wine existed.
The founders, already working in the eLab on a previous wine concept, decided to pivot their mission — and Sovi was born.
“The aspect of eLab that helped us the most was access to experienced advisors throughout every step of the process both during the program and after, from ideation, understanding the customer, creating a viable business model, to pitching and now fund raising,” says Julia.
Sovi starts as a traditional alcoholic wine made from sustainably grown Tempranillo grapes at a family winery in California. Then, it is dealcoholized to contain less than 0.5% ABV when canned. The dealcoholizing process is done using technology from Bev Zero, another Cornell-alumni led company that specializes in alcohol removal and creating non-alcoholic wine, beer, and cider.
This method preserves the delicate taste and aroma of the wine. Removing the alcohol also significantly drops the caloric content – a can of Sovi is 25 calories, while a typical glass of rosé is 125 calories. They also chose to not add any added flavors or unnecessary sugars, unlike the existing non-alcoholic wine options on the market. The result is a dry style sparking rosé that truly tastes like wine. Sovi is currently exclusively available as a sparking rosé, with more flavors currently in the works.
“As wine lovers ourselves, we founded Sovi with a passionate, yet rebellious spirit to finally offer consumers a refreshing, non-alcoholic wine without compromising flavor or experience,” says Julia. “Sovi is perfect for people who have a heart for wine and a craving for inclusion.”