Women-Owned Drinks Brands to Have on Your Radar
Women are creating some of the most innovative beverage alcohol products across all categories – here’s how to support them
As International Women’s Day approaches on March 8, support the women pushing the boundaries of flavor and bringing more equity and diversity into the drinks industry. From trailblazers in the rapidly growing ready-to-drink (RTD) category, to distillers highlighting local terroirs, and brewers supporting racial justice initiatives, this pioneering sector of the industry is more innovative and accessible than ever.
Not only are the products crafted by this group exceptionally high quality, but their stories and ethos align with increasingly prevalent consumer attitudes toward brand values. As BevAlc Insights predicted in early 2021, consumer consciousness for brand values became — and continues to be — increasingly important as consumers continue to support diverse brands and social justice initiatives with their dollars.
Since 2019, the women-owned category has seen steady and sustained growth, rising 12 percent over this time period; sales from women-owned brands now account for a full 1.6 percent of share on Drizly. Women-owned offerings skew heavily toward wine which makes up 80 percent of the category, followed by liquor and beer at 12 and seven percent, respectively. Today, over 89 percent of Drizly partner retailers carry products from at least one woman-owned brand. According to Jill Burns, the co-founder of RTD powerhouse Austin Cocktails, the opportunities for expansion into women-owned brands — and the resulting profits for well-stocked retailers — are massive.
“It is easy to be part of the change we want to see by seeking out women-owned brands and supporting them with buying power,” she says. According to Burns, simple steps, such as dedicating time to meeting with small, women-led producers and seeking out female entrepreneurs, would bring more parity to the industry. At the same time, promoting unique products from women-led brands offers curious drinkers an opportunity to expand beyond their everyday drink of choice.
Nina Kravetz, the marketing director of the woman-founded and predominantly woman-led Martha Stoumen Wines, recommends retailers develop relationships with their suppliers to discover more women- and minority-led brands for their shelves. “We have found that a lot of our customers love to shop by value so offering those opportunities on the shelf is helpful to the consumer,” she says, adding that community groups like Bâtonnage Forum can offer opportunities for retailers and like-minded producers to connect. “I definitely recommend reaching out to small distributors in your state rather than just relying on well-known players. Smaller distributors and other community members will be more likely to make communal connections in great stores, and that really benefits small brands like ours.”
In addition to adding women-owned brands to inventory on online platforms like Drizly, retailers can also see benefits by highlighting these brands on their own websites and social media, or by showcasing products from women-owned brands in traditional promotional formats. In addition to training staff and hosting in-store tastings, Burns believes traditional promotions — such as end-caps and shelf talkers — can have a huge impact when it comes to selling products from women-owned brands.
“We encourage all suppliers to sign up to update and manage their brands on Drizly,” adds Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. Paquette seconds Kravetz’s suggestion, citing Women of the Vine & Spirits’ (WOTVS) Certified Women Owned Database as another resource for retailers, which Drizly supports as a corporate member. Paquette will be speaking at the WOTVS Global CONNECT! on March 8, 2022 in support of bringing equity to female representation in the drinks space.
Currently, Drizly allows brands to self-report their ownership to make it easy for conscious consumers to support women and minority-owned brands. “During March, Women’s History Month, Drizly will be dedicating banner ads, email, and social space to highlighting women-owned brands available to shop on the platform,” adds Paquette.
The list below highlights some of the women-owned drinks brands currently available on Drizly. At BevAlc Insights, we encourage more retailers to carry and promote drinks brands owned by women — not just for Women’s History Month, but all year round.
Martha Stoumen Wines
Martha Stoumen Wines is a California-based winery with a focus on crafting wines with patience. By focusing on patient farming and winemaking techniques, founder Martha Stoumen believes wines can showcase their terroir with the utmost clarity, in wines that combine excellent flavor while being simultaneously environmentally friendly.
Founded by Kate Mead in tandem with Brad Mead, Wyoming Whiskey makes small-batch spirits in the heart of Wyoming ranch country. Using only local grains and controlling the process from mash through aging, Wyoming Whiskey is a women-led leader in the premium spirits sector.
The San Diego-based team behind Skrewball Whiskey is all about letting standard flavors fall to the wayside in exchange for unique, innovative whiskey. Founded by Brittany Yeng, Skrewball is devoted to exploring alternative flavors and having fun.
A seven-year-old rum from the Philippines, Kasama is a unique spirit distilled from fresh sugarcane juice. Launched by Alexandra Dorda, Kasama brings a youthful attitude to the Philippines’ classic spirit, which the team crafts in small batches to produce a unique and flavorful rum.
Founded by actress Shay Mitchell, Onda is a sparkling, tequila-based seltzer made with premium natural ingredients. In addition to being woman-founded, all of Onda’s tequila comes from a woman-owned and -run distillery.
Lost Coast Brewing
Founded by Barbara Broom over 20 years ago, Lost Coast Brewing began before words like “craft” and “microbrew” were trendy. Based in Eureka, California, the brewery now exports globally and its beers are known for their consistent great taste and vibrant flavors.
Fremont Brewing, located in the heart of Seattle, is on a mission to prove locally sourced and sustainable ingredients make the best beer. Co-founded by Sara Nelson and her husband Matt Lincecum, Fremont has been crafting great beers since 2009.
Fast Penny Spirit
Co-founders Jamie Hunt and Holly Robinson joined forces to create Fast Penny, an American-made amaro crafted with wild-foraged botanicals and premium distillate. In addition to crafting spirits, Fast Penny donates a full three percent of bottle revenue to women in business, community, and the drinks industry.
Crafted from wild agave plants ranging from 12 to 25 years in age, OAX is a unique, premium mezcal. Co-founder Laura Giraudo and her team bottle each mezcal in a beautiful, collectible bottle offering consumers a spirit to treasure in the glass and while it’s on the bar.
VING Vodka brands itself as a 100-percent transparent and clean vodka, naturally appealing to health-conscious drinkers. Its unique flavors – including cucumber, kale, and lemon – rely on fresh, organic produce. Creating a spirit aligned with a healthy lifestyle was crucial to founder Flo Vinger, who launched VING to give health-obsessives like herself a better-for-you spirit without compromises.
Boston Harbor Distillery
Founded by Rhonda Kallman in 2012, Boston Harbor Distillery is an inventive distillery located in one of Boston’s oldest mill buildings. Today, Boston Harbor Distillery produces a range of premium spirits including traditional whiskeys, small-batch gin, rum, decadent liqueurs, and distilled Sam Adams beer.
Self-described “serial entrepreneur” Maria Baum launched Splash Mixers to give health-conscious drinkers a delicious alternative to traditional sugary or juice-based cocktail mixers. Today, Splash’s premium, non-alcoholic mixers offer a high-end option to consumers interested in better-for-you brands and non-alcoholic choices.
Square One Vodka
Square One produces certified organic vodka crafted from a 100-percent rye base. Allison Evanow, a spirits industry veteran, founded the brand to provide a premium offering that was delicious and simultaneously environmentally friendly.
Japas Cervejaria was founded by three women who met over a love of beer. Maíra Kimura, Yumi Shimada, and Fernanda Ueno share Japanese-Brazilian heritage and Japas aims to craft unique beers that fuses their Asian and South American cultures with unique flavors.
21 Seeds Tequila
Run by a trio of women, 21 Seeds Tequila is taking center stage with their fresh, natural, infused tequilas. In their quest to craft the perfect tequilas for sipping while giving job opportunities to women, their Mexico-based partner distillery is owned and predominantly staffed by women.
Located in Vermont, The Alchemist is behind some of America’s most sought-after, specialty beers, including the legendary Heady Topper. Since 2003, leaders Jen and John Kimmich have been crafting unique, hop-centric beers, which has cultivated an increasingly devoted following for this brewery. A certified B Corp, The Alchemist is also committed to dismantling systemic racism through workplace practices, public policy advocacy, and more.
The powerhouse women behind Austin Cocktails are making it effortless to enjoy a full-strength, craft cocktail without any mixing. Made without any syrups or high-calorie sweeteners, and available in cans and large format bottles, RTD brand Austin Cocktails brings the cocktail bar experience anywhere.
With the proud slogan “made by chicks,” Bev packs slightly fizzy, deliciously easy-drinking, California wines into go-anywhere cans. Helmed by an all-women team, Bev is grounded in the principle that real, progressive change comes to fruition when men and women work together as equals to reframe the narrative around both women in the industry and women consumers.
Since 2009, Merilee Kick’s Buzzballz has been producing premium RTD cocktails in over 15 flavors — some wine-based, some spirit-based — and unmistakable spherical packaging. Bottled in recyclable packaging designed to break down in both recycling plants and traditional landfills, Buzzballz appeals to climate-conscious consumers looking for a premium RTD cocktail.
Fishers Island Lemonade
Since its 2014 founding by Bronya Shillo, Fishers Island Lemonade has been reimagining the spiked lemonade category. Made with all-natural citrus juices and premium spirits, this easy-drinking RTD cocktail has quickly become a summer favorite; it was one of the fastest growing canned beverages on Drizly in 2020.
Kuehler, whose background in agriculture led her to craft distilling in Oregon, was inspired to create Freeland Spirits by both the pioneering women in her family and the terroir behind craft spirits. All of Freeland’s offerings are twists on mainstream classics like gin and bourbon using local ingredients. With women and craft at the forefront — and women running the operation from growing grain to operating stills — this distillery is showing off the delicious potential of the Pacific Northwest.
Lamplighter Brewing Co.
Based in Cambridge, Mass., Lamplighter Brewing Co. is an avant-garde brewery that embraces the forward-thinking and experimental vibes of its zip code, with a focus on great craft beer and innovation. Led by Cayla Marvil, the Lamplighter team has been putting out high-quality beers and supporting social justice initiatives across the Boston area since 2016.
The largest Black-owned wine company in the U.S., McBride Sisters is breaking down barriers and crafting delicious wines at the same time. Since 2005, Andréa and Robin — sisters raised separately in California and New Zealand — have been producing impeccable, affordable wines with flair. Their wine collections span their home countries, from the Central Coast to Marlborough, and they also dip a toe into the canned wine category with the SHE CAN dry rosé spritzers.
Founded and led by Fawn Weaver, the first Black woman to run a major whiskey brand, Uncle Nearest Whiskey is the fastest-growing independent, premium American whiskey brand in the U.S. Top-notch sourcing and careful aging of Tennessee whiskies, all filtered through sugar maple charcoal, have made Uncle Nearest beloved by American whiskey lovers.