6 founder questions - Giesen

Man en een vrouw genieten van een strandwandeling met een Giesen Merlot alcoholvrije wijn

We spoke with Theo, Alex and Marcel, the founders of the Giesen brand, about their company and Dry January.

    1. “Can you share the story of how your company started? What sparked your passion for non-alcoholic beverages?”
      Theo, Alex and Marcel Giesen were the three sons of a stonemason and planned to continue the family business in Germany. However, in 1981, during their world tour and because it reminded them of home, the Giesen brothers bought land and Theo and Alex planted a vineyard just outside Christchurch, at the time the southernmost vineyard in the world. Younger brother Marcel attended winemaking school in Europe and four years later joined Theo and Alex in New Zealand's South Island to make wine from their vineyard. From their first vintage in 1984, the three Giesen brothers have strived to create great wines. And as their business has grown over the past four decades, they have stayed true to their vision of making wines that people love to drink. From that first vintage, Giesen made Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and it was an instant hit. Still family owned by the Giesen brothers, Giesen Wines has become a leader in the New Zealand wine industry. Exporting to more than 40 countries, we are known for our innovation, dynamism and consumer-oriented approach. Our diverse wine portfolio serves all occasions, ranging from ultra-premium fine wines to non-alcoholic alternatives. In 2020 we began our NOLO journey, producing and launching the world's first alcohol-free Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc under our Giesen 0% brand. Taking into account the global consumer shift towards health and wellness, which also includes moderation and conscious consumption of alcohol, we embarked on our No- and Low-alcohol journey. At the time, we were doing a company-wide fitness challenge that included not drinking alcohol for a month. This became a big motivation for our winemaking team to start experimenting with what a premium, low-calorie, non-alcoholic wine could taste like. We started with Sauvignon Blanc, knowing that the unique, intense aroma and concentration associated with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc would make for a non-alcoholic (NA) wine that stayed true to the style... and it was. We now have six wines, all highly rated, among our Giesen 0% range that we have launched in recent years: Sparkling Brut (recently released), Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Rosé and Merlot. Our goal is to create NA wines that are suitable for all occasions. The Sparkling Brut has only been on the market for a few months and is already very successful and popular with both traders and consumers. We have also launched Ara Zero non-alcoholic (NA) Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé under our Ara brand, which represent the unique characteristics of the Marlborough region and are certified vegan by the Vegetarian Society Ltd, UK.

    2. "What is the big dream and mission behind your brand? How are these reflected in your products and corporate culture?"
      Our big dream and mission for our non-alcoholic wine portfolio is to be the world leader in this category. We're already the #1 premium non-alcoholic brand in the US, New Zealand and one of the top 3 brands in Australia and we're not stopping there! At Giesen, we prioritize and pride ourselves on our people-oriented culture, innovation and our commitment to sustainability. We are continuously evolving to stay relevant to global consumers. Our diverse portfolio of wines, including NOLO options, serves the evolving preferences of conscious consumers. We are committed to engaging marketing campaigns and continue to refine our approach to effectively reach our target audience. With our focus on being a highly innovative, dynamic and consumer-oriented winery, it is our relentless pursuit to deliver products that wine consumers really want, while maintaining the highest quality standards across our entire range, including full-strength, mid-strength and zero-alcohol wines.

    3. “What do you believe sets your non-alcoholic beverages apart from other options on the market?”
      When we launched our Giesen 0% Sauvignon Blanc , we received an overwhelmingly positive response from consumers about the taste and quality of our NA wine. Shortly after entering the category, this gave us the confidence to purchase our own spinning cone technology to produce our non-alcoholic wines, becoming the first New Zealand winery to do so. This advanced technology gently distills the aroma and alcohol at low temperatures, preserving the wine qualities consumers expect. We have a specialist cellar team that works 24/7 exclusively on the production of our non-alcoholic wines. As a result, we have established ourselves as world leaders in manufacturing premium quality non-alcoholic wines. What really sets our non-alcoholic wines apart is the meticulous attention we pay to ensure they are low in calories and sugar. We start with a full-strength base wine, using premium New Zealand grapes carefully selected by our winemaking team at harvest, to ensure the production of high-quality, tasty, low-calorie, non-alcoholic wines.

    4. "Do you have a personal favorite in your range? Which one and why is it a must-try?"
      I enjoy all our 0% wines, and for different occasions - I enjoyed our recently released Giesen 0% Sparkling Brut during the Christmas and New Year celebrations, 0% Merlot on weekday winter evenings, our 0% Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris , Riesling and Rosé wines during the social summer months. But if I had to pick one (it's like asking me to pick my favorite child! lol) it would be our Giesen 0% Riesling. It is the closest version of its full-strength counterpart to our popular Giesen Estate Riesling, which is the #1 selling Riesling in New Zealand. The palette is light, lively and refreshing, with zesty lime, ripe mandarin and delicious sweetness balanced by fresh sourness, best paired with fresh fruit salad or citrus ceviche with avocado. The fruit is sourced from Marlborough and Waipara, with Marlborough bringing the citrus flavor and Waipara the floral notes.

    5. “Do you have any great tips or advice for people doing Dry January and looking for tasty non-alcoholic options?”
      In New Zealand our equivalent of 'Dry January' is 'Dry July'. I have participated in this several times now, especially because we now have such an extensive range of high-quality 0% wines! First, spread the word that you are participating in Dry January. The more friends and family know, the less likely you are to be tempted. Also encourage your friends and family to join you during your fasting month - safety in numbers, and maybe even a little competition between you all to help you stay dry during the month. Shake up your routine and treat yourself. Instead of going to a bar to meet friends, maybe meet at the gym or go for a walk together. It's a great opportunity to try new things - cook a new cuisine, try a new hobby, make 0% cocktails. We have some great Giesen 0% recipes if you're looking for inspiration. Most importantly, be prepared. Make sure you are well stocked with your favorite NA drinks, having these on hand will ensure you don't feel left out when social occasions arise. What we've found through our marketing campaigns is that when people choose not to drink alcohol for whatever reason, they still want to be social and enjoy the taste of wine... just without the alcohol. We've got some great tips for a dry spell here.

    6. “What's new soon? Are there any exciting things coming up for your brand?”
      There is always something exciting coming up for us at Giesen! We are constantly evolving and innovating based on consumer preferences. We have several new products in the pipeline - Giesen 0% New Zealand Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and we are also looking at premium NA red wine.