PHOENIX -- For two local entrepreneurs, all that glitters is gold, and that includes their champagne.
XXIV Karat Grande Cuvée is a California sparkling wine created after more than 18 months of research, networking and trials and errors by ASU alumni Kegan Klein and Nicholas Cowherd.
The two offer a sparkling wine unlike any other available not just in Arizona, but in the country.
"One of the things about this is we try to create a celebratory and very memorable experience," Klein said. "We wanted to do something different, but we wanted to do something you'd remember."
To create that experience, Klein and Cowherd came up with a sparkling wine infused with 24-karat gold leaves. As the customer drinks the wine, 5 milliliters of gold shavings dance and float around inside the bottle and glass.
"We use 24-karat gold and something that everybody wants to know is why is it OK to drink gold?" Klein said. "Yes, it is [OK]...anything over 22 karats is biologically inert, meaning your body can't break it down [and] you're going to pass it through in about 48 hours."
Klein said the gold comes all the way from Germany, while the company's wine comes from a vineyard in Mendocino, Calif., and is bottled in Lodi, Calif.
From there, it is distributed into retail stores such as BevMo! and AJ's Fine Foods around Arizona and is available in numerous bars and clubs in Valley hotspots, such as Mill Avenue and Old Town Scottsdale, he added.
Klein said in the last six months or so, they've sold over 1,000 cases of their sparkling wine, with each case containing 12, 750-milliliter bottles.
"Which is pretty great when you consider it's two guys doing it, (just) myself and my partner of an unknown brand trying to gain traction," he said.
And while that has brought in funds and started to expand the company's reach, it fails in comparison to the 100,000 bottles Klein said they could produce per month, if needed.
But in an industry that has been around for hundreds of years, Klein made no excuses for the kind of competition they're up against and his big vision for the company.
"We are an affordable luxury. We are going after Moet, Veuve, Dom (Perignon)," he said. "Dom (Perignon) and Ace (Armand de Brignac) are so high and so prestigious...one day we'll get there."
Klein said the company is poised to continue expanding in the coming months, which will include sales into California, Florida and North Carolina.
They will also be releasing a second type of sparkling wine with XXIV Karat's own rosé, which should launch next month.
A 750-milliliter bottle generally retails for about $35, Klein said, but inside clubs and for bottle service, the price could jump upwards of $120 for a bottle of bubbly gold.
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