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Interview with DrinkPreneur

The Story Of Stonebush, a THC Infused Beverage Brand

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In the past couple of years, we have seen a huge growth of CBD and THC infused beverage supply. CBD and THC have been a huge break for innovations across the beverage industry. Stonebush is one of great examples. Today, I have the pleasure of talking with Brian Kenny, VP of Sales at Stonebush.

1. Let’s start from the very beginning. What is the story behind Stonebush?

Our leadership team has broad experience in the beverage and consumer packaged goods industries – I myself was a key account manager with Coca-Cola for five years. So once responsible adult-use cannabis became legalized in California in 2016 and there was a growing need for innovative yet approachable products, making cannabis wine was a no-brainer for us. We got right to work to make the best dealcoholized, THC-infused wine possible and launched Stonebush in October 2019. The past several months have been very exciting and we’re looking forward to the future as our brand and the market as a whole continue to evolve.

2. THC infused beverage brands are a new category in the market. What are the biggest challenges Stonebush’s team has overcome during the development process?

The first challenges were making sure that our THC-infused wine tasted great and had a precise dosage of cannabis with a quick onset time. To achieve that, we partnered with infusion specialists Vertosa, who developed a custom cannabis emulsion system so our Stonebush™ Pink looks and tastes like rose and ensures that imbibers will feel the effects of the THC in just 10 to 15 minutes.

We use a blend of Lemon Skunk, Purple Trainwreck, and OG Kush from California’s Emerald Triangle to create the lovely euphoric and cerebral high that our customers enjoy. And each serving of Stonebush is 7.5 mg of THC, which is typically a manageable dose for consumers of all levels of cannabis experience.

The next challenge involved packaging. We wanted to use a classic, clear wine bottle, but California cannabis packaging laws prohibit see-through packaging. To solve that, Stonebush is still served in a clear bottle, but the bottle packaged within a colorful, branded, easy-to-transport box.

3. The beverage itself looks really fun and tasty. Can you tell us more about its qualities?

Absolutely! We really pride ourselves on the taste. Reminiscent of rosé, the flavor is pleasantly tart with notes of citrus. There is no “weed-like” taste to overwhelm the light, crisp wine. It’s also low in calories at just 18 calories per glass — a traditional rosé wine with alcohol has about 130 calories per glass.

For the wine-making process, we use traditional European fermentation techniques along with Californian grapes. The de-alcoholization process is done using equipment often referred to as spinning cones that produce a low-temperature vacuum distillation. This is the very best process to remove alcohol from wine, while maintaining the flavor and keeping aroma intact.

4. A clear marketing strategy is one of the keys of success. Who is Stonebush’s target market?

We have a fairly wide target market. Women gravitate towards the cannabis wine, but in general, new and moderate cannabis users have become fast fans of Stonebush. As a beverage, it’s familiar, yet exciting, and the controlled dosage makes it an ideal sipper for the canna-curious.

5. It looks that the very beginning for Stonebush was pretty great. What are the biggest goals set for 2020?

Making our product more accessible, including by being available in more stores and later this year and offering single-serving bottles. The cannabis beverage industry has a great deal of potential and we are just getting started!

6. Your experience in beverage industry is truly breathtaking. In your opinion, what are the biggest trends every beverage startup shouldn’t miss these days? Where the industry is heading?

As people continue to become more health-conscious there is a trend towards beverages with lower sugar/calorie content and a move away from beverages with artificial coloring and preservatives. You can also see a lot of new and unusual flavors available.