According to the Gospel of John, Jesus transformed water into wine at the Wedding at Cana, making this his first miracle. At Viv & Oak, wine is being transformed into a cannabis-infused beverage. Will wonders never cease?
For many adults, drinking alcoholic beverages is not an option. A myriad of nonalcoholic drinks has graced the market to fill this gap, such as distilled botanicals, and nonalcoholic beer and spirits. But do they enhance the social experience? While everyone else might be enjoying a pleasant buzz from alcohol, nonalcoholic drinkers may feel left out of the loop.
In 2016, Alana Burstein, founder and president of Viv & Oak, sought a solution to this problem, driven by her own experience with alcohol. The result of her research and dedication to finding a healthier and safer alternative emerged in 2019 with a Cannabis-infused beverage. As Alana attests, “This beverage allows for an elevated social experience, without the negative impacts of alcohol.”
Viv & Oak’s cannabis-infused beverages are made with premium California grapes that are hand-picked and then gently crushed and fermented in oak. Once a 14% alcohol level is reached, the alcohol is extracted using GoLo Technology to remove 100% of the alcohol without losing aroma or flavor. After the alcohol is removed, premium cannabis oil is blended in.
Cannabis is a plant with a multitude of ingredients, including CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), two prominent and natural compounds. Although they have the same chemical makeup, they each have a different effect on the body. THC is the primary psychoactive component that produces a “euphoric” sensation. In comparison, CBD is more subtle and frequently used as a therapy to ease discomfort and stimulate appetite. Together, the CBD balances the THC and reduces some of its psychoactive effects, such as feeling high.
At present, Viv & Oak has a selection of five beverages, each containing different profiles of CBD and THC levels. Below is a chart showing the different levels for each bottle. As you can see, each five-ounce glass of Viv & Oak contains 16-24 calories and 3-4 grams of sugar, a much healthier alternative to alcohol!
On a recent phone call with Alana, I asked her how she arrived at the recommended dosage.
Alana: Because this is such a new product and not everyone feels the same on a certain milligram amount, much like alcohol, I wanted to have the appropriate dosage for the new consumer. Depending on your preference, our Shimmering Blush 1:1 has an equal amount of THC and CBD, giving you that elevated feeling but less of a body high; together, it creates the perfect balance. Our CBD without the THC would also be an excellent start. Our THC 50mg is great for the more experienced user, giving them 10mg of THC per 5oz pour. The best part is that you will start to feel the effects in 10-15 minutes, avoiding overconsumption.
What would you advise when one is tasting your beverage for the first time?
Alana: Go slow and wait for the effects to set in before having your next glass.
You refer to Viv & Oak as Cannabis-infused Wine. However, the bottle clearly states “beverage,” and the word “wine” is omitted from your website.
Alana: Since we were one of the first cannabis wines on the market, the regulations prohibited any alcohol-related words. Words such as wine, sparkling, and alcohol on our wine label and our website could not be affiliated with cannabis and alcohol together, so we played it safe and called it a beverage.
How has the market changed since last year? Do you have more competition, and if so, what sets you apart?
Alana: Since last year, when COVID-19 hit, we had seven events booked, and they were all canceled. Distribution has not been an easy pursuit either, lacking processes in place. Thankfully we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and are excited to be back on track. Another cannabis-wine brand is on the market, and I expect lots more coming. What sets us apart is having a personal story about why I created Viv & Oak, our different dosing styles, taste, design, price point, and our valued customers.
What do you envision for the future of your company? Where do you hope to sell your product? And, in what states is this product currently available?
Alana: Concerning the future of Viv & Oak, we are starting production for our single serves this summer, and we are working on partnerships in other states. We envision cannabis becoming legal federally and being a game-changer once it happens. We hope to have Viv & Oak available in restaurants, bars, and grocery stores. Our ideal future sounds like this, “Do you want a traditional wine with alcohol or a glass of Viv & Oak, cannabis-infused wine?” We are currently available in dispensaries all over California. To find a dispensary carrying Viv & Oak near you, visit https://vivandoak.com/
I had the opportunity to sample two cannabis-infused beverages, each containing 50mg of THC/10mg per serving.
Shimmering Blush THC 50mg
10mg per five-ounce serving with 4 grams of sugar and 24 calories
Shimmering Scarlett THC 50mg
10mg per five-ounce serving with 4 grams of sugar and 16 calories.
Each beverage is slightly effervescent, adding to the festivity of the experience. These are not complex beverages, and although they are made from wine, the taste profile leans more toward a sparkling fruit drink. Viv & Oak may not be “wine” as we know it, but the benefits of this beverage are numerous. The ability to attain an “elevated social experience” without drinking alcohol or inhaling cannabis just might become the new norm!
After trying Viv & Oak, I was pleasantly relaxed, with a feeling of well-being, a gentle high, and no “alcohol fuzziness.” It took about 12 minutes for me to start feeling the effects. And the beauty of it was that I could control my “euphoria” just by continuing to take a few sips and then wait for the cannabis to do its magic! Who would have thought that after consuming cannabis in its various forms throughout my life, I would be drinking it from a wine glass!
Alana recommends that you sip and swish slowly for a faster onset time.
Please note: Although most individuals will have a quick response, not everyone does. The back of the bottle states, “The intoxicating effects of cannabis products may be delayed up to two hours.” Please be mindful when trying this product for the first time.
Having the “munchies” has always been associated with consuming cannabis, and one might gravitate toward traditional junk food. However, if you want to elevate your experience while sipping Viv & Oak, pair it with these palate-pleasing foods. Try a charcuterie board, grilled salmon or chicken, or one of my favorites, a simple pasta dish made with sautéed zucchini, red pepper, lemon, and herbs, topped with grated Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil.
Of course, decadent desserts are always welcome. A favorite of mine is Oat Milk Chocolate pudding!
Cannabis might not be for everyone, but Viv & Oak beverages are an excellent alternative to alcohol and a delightful way to partake in the social experience.
Until next time…