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Community Highlights: Meet Esther Paik Vess of Semblance

Today we’d like to introduce you to Esther Paik Vess.

Hi Esther, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Los Angeles became my home while attending UCLA. After graduation, I stayed in LA enjoying the vibrant social scene that typically included drinking wine. My interest in non-alcoholic beverages started after my husband, Blaine, introduced me to non-alcoholic beer that was surprisingly satisfying. It was amazing to enjoy the nuanced taste of the beer without some of the consequences of drinking alcohol and I wondered what was available for the non-alcoholic wines. I appreciate good wine and found the existing non-alcoholic wines to be limited and lacking in the distinct flavor profiles of good wine including aroma, tannins, and bitterness.

After talking with others, I recognized the need for an occasional non-alcoholic healthy and celebratory beverage. Together with Blaine, we delved into the non-alcoholic wine field which led us to our decision to develop our own.

The quest to find the perfect celebratory beverage was on. After a year of research Blaine and I founded Semblance. Semblance aims to offer a variety of great-tasting, nonalcoholic wines that allow people to have authentic experiences with comparable alternatives to alcohol that fit any occasion. A sparkling Chardonnay in which the bubbles dance on the palate and create an unmistakable feel of a sparkling, dry white wine. Imagine all of the fun, with none of the consequences!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It would be an understatement to say there weren’t challenges to starting a business in an unfamiliar industry. We were passionate about creating a premium non-alcoholic product that embodied the dry, crisp profile of the perfect Chardonnay. Since we were new to this wine space, it was challenging to forge partnerships. The quality of Semblance speaks for itself. At first, it was overwhelming without a network to lean on, but we met amazing people who provided assistance moving Semblance in the right direction. We made cold calls and researched people who knew the space that could help us find the right vendors to partner with. We also read many articles and spoke with a Ph.D. in enology who shared his research on why we needed to start with sourcing a quality Chardonnay and also connected us with our wine consultant, who has helped us through this process.

The “No and Low Alcohol” is a new category in the beverage space, so we need to educate people. There is a perception that non-alcoholic drinks should cost less since there’s no alcohol. To sell someone on the idea of buying a premium non-alcoholic sparkling wine is one challenge we face. With Semblance, people don’t understand that we take our product through an additional step to dealcoholized the wine, bring it down to 0.0%, and most importantly, start with a premium wine as the base. We want to provide the best quality because that’s what we want to drink.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
As a co-founder of a small business, I wear multiple hats. My days are never consistent. A day could include working on packaging, technical issues, marketing, or working on the budget to deliver cases to restaurants and bars. One thing I look forward to the most is hearing from our customers and how Semblance has been a game-changer for them. One customer wrote saying he’s so thankful because he has a medical condition and couldn’t drink alcohol anymore. When he discovered Semblance, he finally found a wine that actually tastes like wine and gives him the memory of when he used to enjoy it. We also have pregnant customers saying that Semblance tastes great. It has helped them feel normal and included when others are drinking. We knew the flavor profile that we wanted to create but did not know the wine-making process when we first started. Learning more about winemaking and working with professional wine consultants, I was inspired to get my Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certification. I’m WSET2 certified and going to take the WSET3 this year.


  • $30/Bottle

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Image Credits
Franz Mahr

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