Produce alcohol-free wines in the heart of the largest vineyard in the world, in Béziers. This is the bet that started, in 2015, Fathi Benni, agricultural engineer, and Dominique laporte, best sommelier in France, by creating The Little Beret. “I do not drink alcohol, and I have never understood that it is necessary to be satisfied with water to accompany an oyster tasting”, smiles Fathi Benni. To accelerate international deployment, Le Petit Béret has just raised 1.5 million euros from Bpifrance (500,000 euros), the agricultural cooperative group InVivo, the Innov’Alliance competitiveness cluster, Angels for Food, wine producer Gérald Vallée and Bruno Thévenin, former CEO of PepsiCo France.
The operation will also allow it to continue R&D with Inrae Pech Rouge in Narbonne and the Technical Center for the Conservation of Agricultural Products (CTCPA) in Avignon. The partnership focuses on development of manufacturing processes with 0.0% alcohol, “By guaranteeing a strong reduction in the sugar content and the elimination of pesticides and heavy metals”, specifies Fathi Benni.
New grape varieties in 2021
Among the ongoing research, four new references of spirits are planned for 2021, as well as the identification of new grape varieties, more resistant to global warming. “The wines are increasingly strong and loaded with sugar. Our selection of specific grape varieties provides answers to winegrowers ”, he explains. The alcohol-free wines of the Petit Béret mean ” open up the Languedoc vineyard to new consumers “, especially 18-35 year olds. From 1er June, a wine tourism offer will be launched to introduce alcohol-free grape varieties, cultivated biodynamically.
Le Petit Béret sold 1 million bottles in 2020 and projects 4 million sales this year. ” There is a widespread decline in alcohol consumption in Europe, Japan and North America “, observes Fathi Benni. His company moved to a new 2,000 m site last March.2, at Nissan-Lez-Enserune. After selecting the grape varieties, Le Petit Béret identifies the plots, buys the grape must from the winegrowers and manages the vinification part, the bottling being subcontracted. Its next round of funding should finance the acquisition of the new site, which is rented, and the establishment of a bottling line.
Creation date : 2015
President : Fathi Benni
Amount: 1.5 million euros
Effective : 17 people
In this difficult period, entrepreneurs and managers of VSEs and SMEs need support more than ever. The Les Echos Entrepreneurs site is making its contribution by offering free information and testimonials for the coming weeks. To stay informed of entrepreneurs and startups news, subscribe to our newsletter.