I’m finally back with a new and very exciting Behind the Biz. As I’m typing this we’re in the middle of a heatwave, I’m 25 weeks pregnant and I’d love a big glass of wine.
Enter, Bolle Drinks.
In today’s founder interview Italian born, wine-loving scientist, Roberto Vanin shares his business journey and the story of Bolle – an alcohol-free sparkling drink.
The low and no alcohol market shows no signs of slowing down, continuing its volume growth by a projected 22% in the UK from 2019 to 2024 (source). People are looking for higher quality options and that’s where Bolle comes in.
Bolle launched in June (order a bottle on their website) and offers the taste and sensation of a fine sparkling wine without the alcohol.
They use their Zero Gradi™ technology to keep all the flavour in and the alcohol out. Unlike other low or non-alcoholic drinks which are first made with alcohol and then de-alcoholised. This results in a loss of flavour whereas Zero Gradi™ ensures the alcohol is kept out in the first place.
Brewed in Birmingham, Bolle retails at £9.99 throughout the independent sector.
I hope you enjoy today’s Behind the Biz interview with Roberto Vanin.
Give Us An Overview of Bolle Drinks?
Bolle is a revolutionary drinking experience initially consisting of two elegant, ‘effortlessly effervescent’ sparkling brewed drinks (white & rose) that are beginning an ambitious voyage to bring some much-needed impetus to an increasingly influential ‘sober curious’ community, whilst at the same time reinvigorating a low/no wine category that to date has thus far failed to ignite either the taste buds or imagination of a mindful drinking fraternity that has enthusiastically adopted alcohol-free beer & spirits.
What Led You To Set Up Bolle?
The UK’s no/low alcohol sector has grown a staggering 506% since 2015, appealing to ever expanding numbers of adults who have either rejected or curtailed their weekly alcohol intake inspired by new positive lifestyle choices. These days, a growing appreciation of wellness, mental health awareness and flourishing annual movements like Dry January (attracting a staggering 8m+ participants a year) has resulted in large swathes of millennials and Generation Z reconsidering their relationship with drink, questioning old-school drinking rituals (mid-week, end-of-day, bingeing…) reassessing the negative health effects that surround alcohol and even contemplating abstinence. There’s a clear cultural shift towards wellness and a flourishing acceptance of low/no alcohol alternatives and what constitutes premiumness (depth of flavour, mouthfeel, aroma…)?
How Do You Decide On New Flavour Decisions?
We are mimicking traditional sparkling wines so credible White & Rose alternatives was always the priority!
What Did You Do Pre-Bolle
I’ve worked across the world for a variety of leading light consumer operations as Head of Research & Development from cleaning products to food & drink. I’m probably best known for leading the team that launched stain cleaner Vanish.
‘Interestingly there are clear synergies between what was achieved with my Vanish team and what I’m now seeking to secure achieve with Bolle. ‘Vanish was all about providing the perfect blend of an effective product with a powerful in front of your eye’s dramatization of stain removal. With Vanish the big idea was changing consumer habits whilst competing against detergent. With Bolle the bigger vision is offering authentic consumer choice by providing the full pleasure of a well-balanced drink with no alcohol drawbacks.’
In essence Bolle is all about building a new, grown-up experience beyond sodas and adult soft drinks that appeases demanding taste buds
Was Becoming An Entrepreneur Always A Career Ambition?
Well working in research and development certainly means that I have an enquiring mind and inquisitive mind and am only too happy to challenge the status quo because phrases like ‘we’ve always done things this way’ drive me to distraction. Throw in the fact that entrepreneurship cuts away red tape and allows one to speak and act from the heart, makes me suspect that entrepreneurship is in my blood, even though it’s taken me a fair while to appreciate this basic truth.
Has Lockdown Impacted Your Business?
COVID has only reaffirmed that we’re on the right track with rapidly snowballing numbers of better ‘food & drink educated’ consumers who are taking more personal responsibility for their health who explore ingredient decks with increased vigour and question the need for 2nd best ingredients, needless fillers, synthetic nasties and lazy sugars.
Share With Us A Business High & Low
High/London Wine Fair: The adulation and positivity with which Bolle was embraced both by trusted experts and an inquisitive public was beyond our wildest dreams, with even learned forces for good like The Guardian truly enthused. We also love our minimalist stylish brand identity that screams sophistication and self-belief because let’s be honest everyone has an opinion with regards what constitutes a great and so-so sparkling wine.
Low/Twiddling My Thumbs: Everything, even the simplest tasks takes so much longer than one might imagine.
Best Advice For Aspiring Entrepreneurs?
Only enter the fray with a brand you truly believe in and contest a sector that not only genuinely interests but is also ripe for meaningful innovation. As an obsessive oenologist I was only too happy to tap both into my longstanding wine appreciation, my ongoing frustration at the absence credible low/no offerings that satisfied my taste buds, ably accompanied my meal whilst meeting my heartfelt commitment to drink a little less whilst never settling for 2nd best.
Thanks to Roberto for taking the time to be a part of my Behind the Biz series. It was a pleasure to hear about his business journey and the story behind Bolle. I can’t wait to give Bolle Drinks a try especially as I’m pregnant but also because in general I’m trying to make healthier lifestyle choices.