-Most fans of kombucha know that the healthy beverage contains a little bit of alcohol, but not enough to really make an impact. So in the past few years, a few innovative brands have come out with a few 'booch brews that can give you a buzz. San Diego-based Juneshine is the newest on the scene. Not only is the company creating delicious organic flavors with all the health benefits and a 6% ABV, but it also has created the first ever tasting room to bring people together over hard kombucha.
Started by a few surf buds in San Diego, Juneshine has a goal of promoting good vibes through their sweet sips, a cool surf-shack style space, and an environmentally friendly mission. Helping save the planet through blood orange mint and honey ginger lemon kombucha? Yes, please.
We asked the team to share with us the inspiration behind their company, the amazing tasting room design, and why hard kombucha is the next big thing.
What inspired your team to first create JuneShine?
Greg Serrao and Forrest Dein: Forrest was traveling around the world filming surf and music documentaries, fine tuning his creative eye, and Greg was working as an early employee at a venture-backed startup learning how to run a business. Since meeting our first week at the University of San Diego, we had both always dreamed of starting a company together that would allow us to combine our complementary skill sets.
We joked in college that we would trade in kombucha for the shit beer we were drinking, if only the kombucha had the same amount of alcohol. Being social, and having a passion for all sports outdoors, we were always staying up late and then waking up early to surf or fish or snowboard while our friends slept in. Fast forward a few years, as we approached our mid-twenties, we found ourselves eating and drinking healthier than ever, with one exception — alcohol. We were shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and we grew frustrated by the lack of honest, transparent alcohol brands catering to our healthy, active lifestyle. We decided to start our own.
Big question: Why hard kombucha?
GS: By going to college in San Diego, we were immersed in the craft beer scene and would walk to the Ballast Point tasting room in between afternoon and evening classes (a real GPA booster). We also were huge kombucha fans. When we found out we could actually create hard kombucha, it was a no brainer. Hard Kombucha, in our opinion, is one of the healthiest alcohol options on the market. When brewed with organic ingredients, it is both less toxic on our bodies and the environment than almost all other alcohols. Oh, and it is also deliciously drinkable.
Was designing a tasting room always a part of the plan?
FD: Yes, we always knew we needed to create a unique experience to match our unique product offering. Hard kombucha is a brand new category in the alcohol space and it can be hard for some people to understand the concept. We had so many ideas and knew we needed to reign it in, so we brought in our good friend Katie from Solstice Interiors to manage the project and turn all of our crazy ideas into a cohesive vision. Katie took our inspiration and designed a beautiful coastal bohemian space with tons of light, plants, and natural wood materials to match our organic product.
Why is doing outreach with creatives and athletes important to your team?
FD: With my experience in action sports and lifestyle filmmaking, I have a group of close friends who happen to be badass athletes, artists, and creatives who all share a similar passion for adventure and leaving a positive impact on the environment. We created a co-owner and ambassador program to tell stories through professionally produced films and photos that shed light on the passions of our ambassadors and showcase the lifestyle that we all share and love. We plan to launch our JuneShine story video in early June and then begin production on short films documenting the sustainable lifestyles and adventures of our ambassadors. The role this media will play is to inspire our audience to live a more healthy and adventurous life, and leave the world a better place.
Can you chat a bit about your environmental mission?
GS: First and foremost, we always brew with organic ingredients which are both less toxic on our bodies and the environment. We’re so lucky to be able to do the things we love outside in California’s beautiful natural recreation areas, which are not going to be there if we don’t take care of them. So we want to focus the funds we donate through 1% For The Planet to preserve the natural areas of California.
Our second focus is on sustainable beekeeping. We use the most honey by weight in our brewing process – it’s the biggest ingredient we use – so it make sense for us. We will work closely with the organizations we choose to really make a difference.
What were your goals for the design of the tasting room?
FD: We wanted to create a unique experience to match our unique product offering. We wanted people to walk in and feel like they were hanging out at a friends house that happened to have an awesome hard kombucha bar in it. That’s why we dedicated a huge section of our bar space to a lounge area with a beautiful daybed and floor seats. We looked around at most brewery tasting rooms and many are industrial with dark interiors. We wanted to do the opposite with natural light, hanging plants, and beachy woods and rattan.
Katie Gebhardt: Forrest and Greg already had a super clear vision for me to work with. They did so much legwork on the inspirational side of this project. I could tell so much thought went into this space when they brought me on. Forrest said it beautifully, “We wanted to create a space that reflected the natural and organic elements of the product and brand, keeping things light and bright with a coastal-bohemian flare.”
It's like an upscale surf shack with a dash of bohemian. I knew we had to incorporate a cozy spot for friends to pile in, which led to the lounge area with a vintage rug, a re-purposed coffee table, and a comfy daybed with an endless amount of pillows. The space had really good bones which worked to our advantage — a huge roll-up garage door which just floods the room with natural light, an exposed-wood ceiling, and concrete floors.
The bar was the place to create that “Wow” moment right when you walk in, so we went with that southwestern, geometric Clé Tile. There are a few shelving units (custom made by the JuneShine guys who killed it on executing ideas thrown their way) that also hold miscellaneous books, games, and decor that reflect each person behind the JuneShine name. I loved personalizing this space a bit to really encompass the amazing product, lifestyle, and team behind the brand.
How do you hope to see the company grow in years to come?
GS: We think there’s tremendous demand for our product, so what I always say is we want to grow as quickly as we can without sacrificing the quality of our product and the quality of our culture. There aren't too many organic hard kombuchas out there and I think people are going to love this idea. We’ll do whatever it takes to get this out there so people have the chance to try it and have a healthier option.