Branford couple launches low-alcohol wine business to enjoy ‘guilt-free drinking’

In recent years, people have been shifting their drinking habits to be more health conscious, and a Branford couple noticed there was a gap in the market when it came to wine.

While the beverage industry has seen an increase in nonalcoholic or low-alcohol beers and spirits, Ryan and Justine Whalen noticed that they hadn’t seen a low-alcohol content wine. Ryan said he began researching the trend and said studies were showing that “new consumers were actually looking to moderate their alcohol intake quite significantly.”

The Whalens shared the sentiment. Ryan said he and his wife have two young children at home and that while they were adjusting to early parenthood they still enjoy unwinding with a drink at the end of the day and drinking socially with friends and family.

“The key values for us are that people are able to enjoy the ritual of drinking and relaxation that comes along with it, without the stress, the guilt, the anxiety that might come along with enjoying a drink and potentially waking up with a surprise hangover the next day,” he said.

From there Ryan said he did some research and saw that there was a gap in the low-alcohol wine market.

“I started looking around and thinking, this interesting wine is incredibly popular, I wonder why this doesn’t exist,” he said. He began researching if it was possible to even make a low-alcohol wine that tastes good. “I just pulled the thread and kept unraveling and chasing the rabbit to see...and it snowballed from there.”

The Whalens launched their company Weekday in May. Ryan said that they have already sold more than 450 bottles of their wine and that they’re “blown away” by consumers’ response. The couple currently sells one type of wine, Weekday’s rose, which contains 80 calories per serving and has 9 percent ABV (alcohol per volume). According to the average wine can have an 11.6 percent ABV for unfortified wine and 18 percent for fortified wine (a wine with a spirit added to it). The couple has plans to expand their offerings to include red and white wines in the future.

Weekday is a Covid company: a business that came sprang into existence during the pandemic, or as Ryan puts it “just when Covid was starting to sink its teeth in.” However, for the Whalens, they had to carve out time out of their busy schedules to launch their business.

Both Whalens work in New Haven, with Justine working as a public defender and Ryan is director of strategic partnerships at the Yale School of Management. The couple also have two young sons, so they built up their company during nap times and in the evenings after their kids had gone to sleep.

“What we try to focus on is making a little bit of progress everyday, if we can keep the ball moving forward slowly it feels like it’s achievable,” Ryan said.

The couple tasted nearly 35 different roses before settling on the one that Weekday offers. The wine is produced in Monterey, Calif. before it is shipped out to Weekday’s warehouse in Connecticut. Currently the wine is only available online, but the Whalens are working on getting their wine into stores locally.

For more information about Weekday, visit