Stay Fit & Sip Your Wine, Too… Meet Mark Warren of FitVine
Posted On May 02, 2016
Your exercise regime and penchant for wine can actually work together. Check out FitVine, the bottle of choice for fitness-conscious oenophiles.
The vast majority of people who take their fitness seriously also enjoy a drink or two every now and then… This is pure fact. And yet the two experiences — working out over here, consuming alcohol over there — seem somehow at odds with one another. This reality led a trio of athletic, forward-thinking fellows (Mark Warren, Tom Beaton, and Zach Schulze) to lay the foundation for FitVine (fitvinewine.com), wines that provide consumers a healthier choice and are authentically, exceptionally delicious to even the most discerning palates.
It took quite a while — two and a half years, to be precise — for FitVine’s masterminds to put their “cleaner wine” concept into motion. Following extensive research and professional counsel, the guys determined that the high altitude of California’s Sierra Foothills provided the right conditions to grow their grapes. There, the grapes would naturally possess high concentrations of resveratrol, polyphenols, and proanthocyanidins. (No pesticides here) No additives, sugars, or impurities were to make it into their bottles. They determined that their wines would go through a malolactic, secondary fermentation process, which would lower pH levels to optimal levels. They are cold-stabilized and chilled to eschew impurities, fermented for about two weeks longer than average for extra antioxidants, and filtered through diatomaceous earth as well as micron pads. Cleaner, healthier wine was born.
Here, we chat with co-founder Mark Warren as FitVine hits the market, and in advance of the brand’s roll-out at Whole Foods stores this summer.
NEW YOU: Mark, it’s a delicate endeavor to bridge this gap between fitness and drinking. What is the core message of FitVine?
MARK WARREN: We knew that the everyday person who engages in fitness really wants to bridge that gap you mention. Approximately 97% of those who work out still drink as well. We’re thinking about the single professional, or the mom or dad who works out three to four times a week. There was a definite gap present in the market and we knew we could fill that gap. We started introducing FitVine inside some of the top fitness communities, like those of CrossFit, triathlons, yoga, and running. We also tested it online, and teamed up with elite athletes and professionals who are enthusiastic about all we are doing.
NY: One of our favorite contributors to this site, celebrity trainer and former Super Middleweight boxing champion Danny Musico, endorses FitVine.
MW: We’re really glad to have Danny standing behind our brand. He has such stature as a professional athlete and personal trainer, and won’t get behind a product unless he believes in it.
NY: What are some of the plusses of FitVine for consumers, particularly athletes and fitness-conscious individuals?
MW: Thousands of studies exist, citing the benefits of wine in moderation. Just like food, however, it’s processed. The government allows 74 additives to wine. Consumers don’t have clear direction, and the majority aren’t “wine people,” so our goal was to make an affordable, great tasting wine without bringing down the alcohol content.
NY: How does your process impact the taste of your wines?
MW: These are drier wines because there are no residual sugars. Frankly, they have been amazingly received by many of the top sommeliers in the world. Their reactions border on shock. They can’t believe that we’ve managed to strike this balance and achieve the flavor we have. It feels good to know we are giving wine-drinkers something they have didn’t realize they could have.
NY: Your website speaks of the “biohacking” of wines… What kind of science went into this process?
MW: We didn’t reinvent the wheel. We actually took things back to the way small vineyards in Europe have always made wine. One of the biggest things about this wine is the pH level. How do we control that from the beginning and through the winemaking process? We have sourced more than 90% of our grapes with a particular pH level, from an altitude of over 2000 feet. We also take a longer time to make our wine. It is tested multiple times to ensure an ideal pH level, and we take the proper time to do it. We aren’t throwing additives in there to shorten the process.
NY: What will consumers not find in FitVine wines?
MW: Additives, sugars, and impurities. There are also fewer sulfites because we use only the needed sulfites for what we use to stabilize the wine. There are theories that sulfites give you headaches, and there is not a simple answer whether this is so, but the combination of sulfites with additives and such will affect you.
NY: How did the company come together between you and your cofounders?
MW: Tom and I previously built a tech company, and have been working together for almost ten years. He always played hockey, I have been in martial arts, and we both participate in CrossFit. We knew there was a hole in the market for wine drinkers, and spoke of it for about six, seven years. We stayed on top of research on wine’s health benefits, and knew that people want to work out and stay healthy but still drink wine. We then met our other partner, Zach, a chemist who had been in the alcohol industry. Zach helped us start to source the grapes and find the right winemaker. It took about two and a half years from then to feel we’d reached where we wanted to be with our process.
NY: And what can we expect on pricing?
MW: Our Cabernet and Chardonnay are $15.99 while our Sauvignon Blanc is $17.99. All of our bottles will remain under $20. Next month, our Pinot Noir is coming out and will run between $18.99 and $19.99. Millennials are the largest wine consumers in the US now, and all things organic have taken off, and continue to trend fast and high. Given the cost and time it takes to make our wines, they would typically run higher, but we have seen that Americans are willing to pay within the $15 and $20 range, so we are sticking to that. We will soon be available in 44 states, and have a written agreement with Whole Foods to be in stores throughout the mid-Atlantic in the coming months. It’s great to know that a wine of this caliber is making its way to so many people. I am certainly glad to be a part of it.