Chavin Opens New Markets With Innovation and Non-Alcoholic Wines

Creating wine-based, non-alcoholic products that take the category seriously has opened up new markets for Chavin, including the halal market. Felicity Carter reports.

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Mathilde Boulachin
Mathilde Boulachin

When Mathilde Boulachin founded Maison Chavin in 2010, she found it hard to get people to take her seriously.

“People thought I was totally crazy. Then it went from, ‘she’s crazy, but maybe she has a bit of audacity’, to ‘maybe she was really smart because she’s so ahead of her time’.”

Headquartered in Béziers in the south of France, the company is a long way from her family’s vineyard in Champagne. She says she started it in 2010, when she was pregnant and needed a non-alcoholic option for herself. “I built it from scratch.”

The first bottles of Pierre Zero, a de-alcoholised wine, were released a year later. Today, Chavin sells 2.5 million bottles a year to 65 countries — and every one of those bottles is non-alcoholic, putting Boulachin at the forefront of what turned out to be a revolution.

And it’s on tapping markets that are normally closed to wine.

The first sale

Boulachin chose to found her business in Languedoc because “you have access to a large collection of grapes, and a lot of variety. You have the sun and the coolness from the Mediterranean, so for me it was a very good place to start a winery that is based on innovation.”

Despite growing up in Champagne, she has a very non-traditional approach to production, which she says comes from her business background. “First I worked in medical IT and then I went back to train at Dijon business school and got a specialised Master of Wine.”

Chavin sells 2.5 million bottles a year to 65 countries — and every one of those bottles is non-alcoholic.

After that, she worked in Sweden importing wine, where she got an understanding of what the final customers were really looking for. “What was important for me was to listen, and to propose to the final customer something they really want, instead of focusing on the wine quality. At the end of the day, it’s very subjective.”

As many wine producers have discovered, making a palatable non-alcoholic wine isn’t easy — it took a lot of trial and error.

“What was important for me was to listen, and to propose to the final customer something they really want, instead of focusing on the wine quality."

“We buy fermented wine that we go and select,” says Boulachin. “We select wine that we believe will be good after the de-alcoholisation; you have to get the balance from the start between acidity and aromas.”

In markets used to drinking alcohol, Boulachin says sparkling non-alcoholic typically performs the best, because the bubbly texture can make up for some of the flavours that have been removed. “The structure helps a lot.”

Boulachin says she is often asked if there is any alcohol left in her dealcoholised products, and she says there is a tiny amount. “But if you do a proper analysis,” it’s clear there are infinitesimal traces of alcohol in many fruits and fruit juices.”

Overcoming prejudice

She also found it hard to land her first sale, because the category had a stigma, due to very low production standards. When she could get wine buyers to taste her product, they would compare it mentally to traditional wine, rather than understanding it as a new category.

What helped her enter the market was that there was such a clear need for it. Restaurateurs needed something for patrons who were pregnant, who couldn’t drink for religious reasons, or for customers who simply wanted a nice drink without any alcohol.

“If you’re going to do a toast, it’s the same glass and nobody can tell there is no alcohol there,” says Boulachin. “So it makes a lot of sense to include different ethnicities and religions.”

Today, Chavin is at the forefront of innovation in the category.


The consumption of (partially) de-alcoholized beverages is expected to continue growing as new customers are entering the market.

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New markets for wine-based products

According to Grand View Research, the global market for dealcoholised wine currently stands at $2.39 billion, and is tipped to grow to $3.78 billion by 2030. Boulachin says these products aren’t just for people who don’t want to drink — they’re also for people who can’t process alcohol.

“In Asia, 40% of people can’t process alcohol whatsoever,” she says.

Today, Japan is her biggest market, and her products are served on Japan Airlines: “If you take a Japan Airlines between Tokyo and the Asian markets, you can drink an alcohol-free.”

And then there’s the halal market, valued at $1191.8 billion in 2022.

Non-fermented or dealcoholised products?

Boulachin says she sells non-fermented products for the halal market, rather than dealcoholised wines. “In certain parts of the world, it’s quite difficult to sell a product that has been fermented, even if you have zero alcohol,” she says. “It’s ethically something they don’t want.”

The difference between grape juice and a non-fermented product, she says, is that “we use components of the grapes like seeds, and we try to get the complexity thanks to infusions. If it’s juice, you just press it.”

To get halal certification, inspectors come to the facility and verify there is no alcohol at any stage of the production.

Curiously, Boulachin says the Middle East is not a big market for her products, because “we sell in wine drinking countries or in wine producing countries — you have to have a sort of wine culture,” to be interested in non-alc wines. That means opportunities for European producers within Europe itself.

Pairing innovation with sustainability

Chavin uses spinning cone technology to dealcoholise the wine. She acknowledges that it’s not an environmentally friendly technique, as the process generates large amounts of greenhouse gas.

“We have done a very intensive carbon footprint [analysis],” says Boulachin. “We know exactly how much we are producing and we have made this investigation together with our suppliers. That was our first step.”

The company is now exploring PIWIs, as she says they need “ten times less treatments” in the vineyards than other grape varieties.

Other initiatives include lightweight bottles, tree planting, and improving biodiversity.

Yet none of the vineyards she works with are owned by the company. “We use growers, because you need someone who is really focused on it. I prefer to let people do their job in the best way they can.”

Nor does she own a bottling line, or even a winery, preferring to rent facilities. “For me there is no value — you will always have somebody that has the newest technology.”

It’s not an environmentally friendly technique, as the process generates large amounts of greenhouse gas.

Boulachin says this way there are no physical restraints on growth. “We master the value chain. We have our own winemakers that go from one spot to the other to do the selection. We have production people who advise and our marketing people.”

It’s also important to be able to keep up with the latest equipment, which means renting is a better option. “If I would have invested in the spinning cone of five years ago, I wouldn’t be able to do the quality,” that she now does. “I always go finding the best technology to get the best technology. Same for the grapes — you have to do your selection to get the best quality.”

Boom times

Chavin is now increasing production, because the demand for non-alcoholic products is surging. Chavin also produces traditional wine, but Boulachin has her doubts about the category. “If you look at the statistics globally, it is declining, but production is increasing. We’re not going in the right direction. I don’t want to be pessimistic, but…”

She also worries that too many wineries are dealcoholising their excess wine simply because they have wine to sell, without understanding that the product has to be taken as seriously as traditional wine.

The product has to be taken as seriously as traditional wine.

But ask her about what’s next for Chavin and she brightens. Boulachin thinks the pandemic was really the making of the non-alcoholic market, because “people realise they have to do something for their health. You can die any time. So people are focused on alcohol intake and want moderation.”

It’s unfortunate that it took a global pandemic for the category to take off, but it has at least released an explosion of creativity — and opened up new opportunities and markets.


When a host says 'can I get you a drink?', they're rarely offering No-Lo wines or sparkling tea. Robert Joseph suggests that, despite not containing any alcohol, these are ‘drinks' too – and deserve rather more recognition than they're currently given.

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