In just three years, ThinK Wine Group founder Katherine Jones has grown her wine brand from a dream to a success. Today, ThinK produces a Prosecco and a sparkling rose, and are getting ready to launch in the United States come September.
For Katherine, it all started with a love for bubbles and a distaste for what they do to one’s waistline. After many trips back and forth between her home in Liverpool and Treviso, Italy, Katherine finally came across the right partners to help make her dreams come true and create a wine that was low in calories and still tasted great.
In this week’s Bottle Breakdown, we sat down with Katherine to learn about the origins of ThinK Wine Group, why she loves sparkling wines, and what’s on the horizon for the blossoming brand.
Spirited Zine: Three years ago, you were an influencer marketing manager in Liverpool and using extra money to fly to Treviso, Italy as you wanted to create your own prosecco. But can you tell us about the true origins of ThinK Wine Group and your desire to make a plant-based, vegan, organic prosecco with reduced sugar content?
Katherine Jones: I have always loved bubbles, and I have always been prone to weight gain! Working in the influencer marketing realm you see how much pressure is put on girls to look good. I wanted to create a drink that people would be able to enjoy, but was also better for them with the reduced sugar. The fact the wine is 0-carb means that people on a keto diet often purchase it. I am also becoming more and more interested in sustainability and a lot of my clients were going vegan at the time which is why I decided it should be vegan. I created the wines for me, knowing that if no one ever purchased it I would happily get through the lot eventually.
SZ: Can you please tell us what has to be done differently to make a wine truly vegan?
KJ: It’s the clarification process of the wines, as well as the standards of the winery itself. Some wines are clarified through ‘fish intestine’ while ours is clarified through peas. At no point is our wine in contact with any animal product.
SZ: You partnered with a highly regarded vegan and organic certified vineyard in the heart of Treviso. How did you meet your future partners and what was the moment you knew you’d be working with them going forward?
KJ: I was back and forth to Italy many times before finding the right one. I appointed a wine ‘agent’ who showed me round all of the high end, vegan and organic wineries. The goal was to taste their wines (as they were with full sugar) and recognize if it would still taste good enough with a reduction in sugar too. It was all about finding the ‘perfect’ grape and a winery with the same goals and morals as us. They also needed to be happy to ‘create’ a wine alongside us as we didn’t just want to white label their wines.
SZ: The winery uses 100% renewable energy sources in the production of ThinK Wine. Why was it important to you to use renewable energy and how does the winery achieve this?
KJ: The organic method of wine production focuses on creating a balanced environment that allows bugs and plants to coexist without harming each other, especially the vines and grapes. The chemicals used in a non organic winery are strong enough to kill animals such as birds. With the machinery used, it’s not currently possible for the winery to use 100% renewable sources of energy but they do all that they currently can and strive to better themselves every day in becoming one of the most sustainable vineyards in the world.
SZ: Can you tell us a bit about the terroir of Treviso and why it’s such an ideal place to make wine?
KJ: Treviso is the Prosecco region, to be called Prosecco legally the wine must be made there. It’s got years of history in wine making and they take such pride in their processes from start to finish.
SZ: You make Prosecco and Pinot Grigio Sparkling Rosé. Why were you so intent on making sparkling wines and what about Italian sparkling wines makes them so unique?
KJ: I am just a bubble lover and when I first started this wine was being made basically for myself ha-ha. In Northern Italy the climate is perfect for this as it is not excessively hot, so the alcohol % of the bubbles produced are really well balanced, creating easy drinking bubbles. The soil of our vineyard is made predominantly of gravel and this gives the wines an additional hint of minerality that invites the second glass. The technology and expertise that our winery has is second to none. There is a winemaking school in Italy (Conegaliano) very well known and they regularly teach that our winery contributed to the evolution of the quality of Italian sparkling wines.
SZ: Flashback to September 2019 when you sold your first bottle of wine. What did that feel like?
KJ: I could scream with excitement and happiness ha-ha! I THINK I cracked open a bottle to celebrate!!
SZ: Just about six months after you sold your first bottle, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and completely changed everyone’s lives. How did you and ThinK Wine Group adjust to the pandemic?
KJ: We just changed our vision from on trade to online and it was the best thing we could have ever done. We channeled all efforts, energy and budget into growing our e-commerce store and eventually we ended up having a super successful year.
SZ: It seems you were met with obstacle after obstacle, from finding the right partner to COVID, since starting ThinK Wine Group. What is it like to succeed in the face of adversity?
KJ: It feels good, knowing that all of my hard work is finally paying off and proving that resilience is the key. It’s fine to get knocked down as long as you always get back up!
SZ: You’re now preparing to star in a new Amazon Prime reality show, The Social Movement. How did this opportunity come about?
KJ: Unfortunately, due to COVID I will no longer be on season 2 (I can’t get into the US to film) I may well appear on season 3 though now instead – we will see where I am this time next year!
SZ: What was it like to learn you were going to be on the show and are there any fears you’d be willing to share with us about heading to Miami in June?
KJ: I have never really been the ‘TV type’ but I would do anything for ThinK and to raise the ThinK profile, so I was extremely nervous. I also gained weight during lockdown, I didn’t feel ‘camera ready’ at all! However, the decision has been taken out of my hands as I am unable to get into the USA to film this year.
SZ: What’s next for ThinK Wine Group?
KJ: We will be launching in the US in September, we have small 200ml bottles coming, a collaboration with a very well known influencer and the launch of a still rose and hopefully more new wines before the end of the year. It’s all go over here and we love it!!
For more information, head over to the brand’s official website.