vignette wine country soda

Vignette Wine Country Soda: Chardonnay

History: Have you ever been sipping your wine at the dinner table and thought to yourself, “You know what would make this wine better? If it were soda.” Luckily Pat Galvin is already ahead of you. Galvin was tired of soda and how predictable it had become. After seeing his wife go through pregnancy, he says he realized just “how few sophisticated non-alcoholic options were available.” He wanted something classy, like wine, but void of booze. He wanted something to give the drinker a wine-like experience. He wanted… you get where this is going, right? Galvin founded Vignette Wine Country Soda in 2007. Based in Berkley, California, the company initially launched with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay soda. They’ve since added Rosé and most recently California Brut. Just like the real stuff, Vignette Wine Country Sodas are all about the grapes. Says Galvin, “We use real California wine grape juices. Our juices could easily be made into wine instead; these are premium grapes.” Those grapes are also the only source of sweetness in the soda, meaning no cane sugar or syrup of any kind is added. With their take on Chardonnay, Vignette wanted the soda to be light and flavorful. Galvin explains that he feels it’s light, fruity, and most of all, refreshing. In fact, he claims “it’s probably the most refreshing of the [company’s] flavors,” before noting that it pairs well with food. He also adds that for something that mimics white wine, people are often surprised at how flavorful the soda tastes. Great news. I love surprises.

Where to get: Vignette Wine Country Soda is sold online via the company’s online store. If you’re outside of California, online is the route you should go for purchasing.

Nose: It’s a very bright smell. I’m getting a little bit of peach combined with white grapefruit juice. This is one those scents five-star resorts make their beaches smell like. Refreshing, fruity, luscious.

Taste: Peach; tangy green grapes; white grape juice; dry; tart carbonation. What’s really striking about this soda is the peach flavor. Wine grapes often contain interesting tasting notes, and apparently these adopted some characteristics of peaches because there isn’t actual peach juice in the soda’s recipe. The soda’s flavor isn’t as bright as its scent. Definitely fruity, but more of a dry beverage. It isn’t overly sweet between the peach and green grape flavors. In fact, the grapes give the soda its signature white grape juice tanginess while the flowing, tiny bubbles of carbonation provide more mild bitterness. It’s an interesting combination: fruity, yet dry.

Finish: Tangy white grape juice that’s gone almost as soon as it appears. No lingering effect.

Rating: This is a prototype for what adult soda should embody. There’s enough sugar to leave an impression, but still less than a typical soda. There’s enough flavor to satisfy the taste buds, but the soda’s dryness makes it feel light on the stomach. Peach and white grapefruit juice dominant the flavor profile. The peach provides the sweetness and the green grape taste balances it out with a tangy tartness. There’s also more carbonation to this than I was expecting. Not sure if I love that. What I do love is the balance of sweet and tart flavors. The peach and green grape notes are great compliments to one another. It honestly drinks like a less potent, nonalcoholic fuzzy navel with some white grape juice splashed in. I picture a lot of 44 year-old moms questionably wearing two-piece bikinis drinking this by the pool. I don’t mind the peach, but I do wish it were bolder. It’s like a tease of peach. Just give me the whole thing. I think overall the flavors are just a little more subdued than I prefer. This is going to be a big hit with wine drinkers and the older crowd in general. So mom, if you’re reading this, look this up. Also, sorry about all the talk involving my lack of love life in almost every single review.

Three Stars


Vignette Wine Country Soda: Pinot Noir

History: After nine grueling months of carrying a baby inside their stomach and then shoving something the size watermelon through an area the size of a lime, the first thing most women want after birth, understandably, is alcohol. But what about during pregnancy? Booze is out of the question, so that doesn’t leave many drinking options with the same regality. Pat Galvin noticed this and set out to do something truly unique in the soda industry: put it on the same platform as wine. “The idea came from seeing my wife go through pregnancy with our first child and seeing how few sophisticated non-alcoholic options were available,” Galvin tells us. He founded Vignette Wine Country Soda in Berkeley, California in 2007. The company believes their soda is “an elevated experience” for the drinker, allowing folks who don’t drink alcohol a new high-end option as well as those who do drink booze the chance to take a night off and still have something interesting in their hand. Vignette Wine Country Soda produces three flavors: pinot noir and chardonnay (the two original flavors), as well as rosé (launched in 2009). Now the question you’re all asking is: does this actually taste like wine? Maybe a little bit, but that’s not the goal. Galvin explains that with the pinot noir soda, they’re “really not trying to match the flavor of wine,” adding “that wouldn’t be possible.” Instead, the company prioritizes capturing “a nice, clean fruit flavor.” Think of this beverage as an artisan grape soda with a mild wine flavor influence.

At Vignette Wine Country Soda, it’s all about the grapes. The company uses varietal wine grapes from California. What are varietal grapes and why are they different? We didn’t know, so we asked. Galvin tells us wine grapes “have more complex flavors than a traditional table grape that you might be used to.” For example, some might be sweet, some sour, and some might even have a berry characteristic to them. Variety. Hence the term “varietal.” Did we mention the grapes are important? They want you to know the grapes are important. “Our juices could easily be made into wine instead…. These are premium grapes,” Galvin explains. Basically, you’re drinking the best of the best. And because of that, the company doesn’t add any sugar to their wine sodas. All the sweetness you’ll taste in each bottle comes from the natural sugar in the juices. I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about this, but also hesitant. We always ask bottlers what makes their soda unique, and Vignette Wine Country Soda has perhaps the most distinct claim to fame. But is being different being better? I’m about to elevate my experience and find out.

Where to get: Outside of California, you’ll have a hard time finding Vignette Wine Country Soda in stores, so your best bet is to buy it online directly from the company at their online store.

Nose: This smells kind of like what I expected – a cross between sparkling grape juice and chilled red wine. There’s a tartness to the grape smell that you sometimes smell in wine, but also a sweetness that you often find in sparkling grape juice. Probably leans a little more on the sweet-smelling side.

Taste: Grape; raspberry; tartness. This tastes exactly like the smell would lead you to believe, like a cross between sparkling grape juice and a slightly sweet glass of pinot noir. The grape flavor in this bottle tastes very natural and not like what you’d drink in something like a NeHi or NuGrape. What’s immediately noticeable besides the grape flavor is tart raspberry. Depending on the variety of pinot noir you’re drinking, raspberry can be a somewhat common tasting note. So that’s a nice ode to the wine. The carbonation isn’t too striking, but the tartness from the raspberry leaves a little bit of a natural sourness that’s compounded by the bubbles. The sugar levels in this are perfect and interact with the tartness well. The more and more you drink Vignette’s Pinot Noir soda, the more you’ll taste the raspberry. It becomes a little more sweet throughout the drink, replacing the grape notes.

Finish: Definitely more of a wine flavor near the end of the sip than the beginning or middle. Grape and a mild dose of that raspberry flavor. Pleasant and doesn’t linger too long, leaving a clean finish on the palate.

Rating: If you like grape soda with just a hint of exoticness to it, Vignette Wine Country Soda’s Pinot Noir is going to be a national treasure for you. Truth by told, I could drink these all day. It’s a wonderful twist on grape soda with natural grape flavor and tart raspberry notes. It’s like a cross between sparkling grape juice and an actual glass of pinot noir. A couple points that I think are the big takeaways: first, the grape flavor is excellent. Each bottle of Vignette Wine Country Pinot Noir Soda contains 50% juice and you can taste it. Second, the accompanying raspberry flavor is also excellent. It provides a nice tartness to the grape’s natural sweetness, something you often taste in wine. The sugar levels in this are very nice and aren’t overdone. To my satisfaction, this also isn’t a soda that tastes bitter. Basically, it’s the correct blend of wine and grape soda flavors, though it’s definitely more grape soda than wine. My only complaint is that the more you drink the soda, the less the grape flavor comes though. The raspberry becomes more prominent. If this maintained the same flavor throughout the bottle, it’d be five stars. Maybe that change is the intention of the bottler, but I’d prefer a little more consistency. Still, this is supremely unique and full of lovely flavor. I really enjoy it and I’d recommend this to anyone and everyone. Works chilled or on ice and in both the hot and cold months. Pour this in a wine glass at a get together with your wife’s annoying friends and no one will know the difference.

Four Stars