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Invivo founders to expand into cannabis drinks

Invivo’s Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron, founders of New Zealand’s only crowdfunded winery, are looking to expand their portfolio to include cannabis drinks.

Invivo’s Tim Lightbourne (left) and Rob Cameron with chat show host Graham Norton

Speaking to db during a recent trip to London, the entrepreneurial pair said they were monitoring the cannabis drinks category closely with a view to entering it.

“We’re looking seriously at the cannabis drinks sector as it fits with our brand and could bridge the gap to get new consumers into wine.

“We’re talking to wine buyers in North America about it at the moment and one of our shareholders recently launched a cannabis drinks company,” Lightbourne said.

As to what form the drinks would take, Lightbourne revealed they were looking into the idea of making a non-alcoholic ‘wine’ infused with CBD, known for its health benefits, rather than THC – the psychoactive component in cannabis.

The green economy: Invivo are looking into cannabis drinks

“We’d only do it if it was something that had scalability as we’re not interested in doing it on a small scale. We’d bottle it in a market where cannabis is legal like Denver or Vancouver.

“One thing that might work is making it with sparkling non-alcoholic grape juice. Sauvignon Blanc grape juice has a really potent flavour and might work well,” said Cameron.

“We need to do more research first and understand the market better. I think cannabis will be legalised in New Zealand soon – companies are gearing up for it,” he added.

Invivo, the largest crowdfunded company in the southern hemisphere, is owned by Lightbourne, Cameron and their 600 shareholders.

So far the pair have raised NZ$4.5 million through their crowdfunding campaign.

Their most recent project is a collaboration with Sex and the City actress Sarah Jessica Parker on her own wine brand, which has yet to be named but will launch this autumn with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a Provence rosé.

Lightbourne and Cameron also collaborate with chat show host Graham Norton on his burgeoning drinks range, which includes a Marlborough Sauvignon, Prosecco, Australian Shiraz and a London dry gin made in his home city of Cork in Ireland.

Norton’s new pink gin, made at West Cork Distillery, is due to go on sale at Tesco at £29 a bottle to coincide with Mother’s Day. Among the botanicals are locally foraged rosehip and fuchsia petals.

Over a million bottles of Norton’s wildly popular Prosecco will go on sale this year. The brand is due to launch in the UK this summer.

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