As trends like Dry January and Sober October become more popular, many people are choosing to limit their alcohol consumption.
Options for non-alcoholic versions of our favorite drinks seem to be popping up left and right as the industry rapidly expands.
One of those new options is coming from Miller Family Wines in Santa Maria. Jonathan Nagy is the winemaking director and is a part of their newest wine venture with Chef Cat Cora and the Hand on Heart Wines that launched a few months ago.
"Dry January is something that a lot of people talk about, but it's more of giving their bodies a break from alcohol and doing things that are health-conscious,” Nagy said.
When comparing 2020 to 2021, sales of non-alcoholic beers grew 200 percent, non-alcoholic spirits grew 600 percent, and alternative wine options grew 300 percent.
“We chose to focus on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon," Nagy said about their new venture. "Because those are two varieties that are very familiar with, people know them, they understand them, they know what kind of flavors to expect. And then we also wanted to do a rosé because rosés are just kind of fun.”
For beverage vendors on the coast, stocking these options is an easy choice.
Aaron Warren is a co-owner at SLO Wine and Beer Company on South Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo. He recently started stocking a non-alcoholic Chardonnay and has placed orders for non-alcoholic beers as well.
“It's a great alternative because it's still a beverage that appeases the senses, but it's not going to weigh you down or slow you down," Warren said.
Most alcohol alternatives use the process of vacuum distillation to remove the alcohol but leave the flavor.
“I generally see it's people that want to quit drinking, and it just gives them, you know, kind of a platform to kind of break away from it," Warren said. "A lot of pregnant women are excited about it because of course they can't drink, so it's a fun way for them, I think, to kind of cheat or at least, you know, feel like they're cheating."
Whatever the reason someone chooses an alcohol-free version, the industry is growing fast
“We started off at about 10,000 cases, and it's one of those things where we made enough to kind of have that demand in Dry January, and we just want to see how it organically grows,” Nagy said.
"I think there are many ways in which it fits into our society, into functionality. And I think because of that, it's something that will possibly continue to grow," Warren added.