When Non – a zero-alcohol wine alternative – launched in 2019, each batch was painstakingly made by hand. The toasted-cinnamon and yuzu flavour, for example, started with slicing oranges by hand, roasting them in an oven, dehydrating the slices, then steeping them in hot water on a stove.

Things are different now. In June 2022 the business moved into a sizeable factory in Cheltenham, deep in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, equipped with a 1500-litre kettle and steeping basket that holds up to 300 kilograms of fruit. And those caramelised, dehydrated oranges? They’re bought pre-made from a wholesale supplier, along with ingredients like whole raspberries, pears, verjus, olive brine, nutmeg, kombu, tamari, hops and chamomile flowers.

Each of Non’s seven flavours contains five to ten such ingredients, cooked, precisely blended and balanced. The resulting profiles vary significantly, but there are commonalities. Each is built around a central core of tannins (from tea and other sources) and acid (often from citrus), two of the main compounds that bring complexity to wine and balance out its sweetness. This approach has seen Non picked up by top restaurants across the country, which before may have chosen to make these type of drinks in house, with varying success.

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Figuring out the process at this scale hasn’t been easy. Non’s four production employees come from the worlds of brewing, baking, dairy and cocktails. Their equipment and techniques are cherrypicked from those industries to make hybrid machinery and processes that are fit for purpose.

“There isn’t anybody that does exactly what we do,” says kitchen lead Nick Cozens, once a bartender and flavour nerd at Melbourne’s Eau De Vie.

“No matter how much we’ve grown, we still do it the same way we always have. You can’t do what we do without cooking real food and turning it into drinks,” says his boss, Non owner Aaron Trotman.

Trotman and his burgeoning team invited Broadsheet photographer Jamie Alexander down to see how it’s all done, up to 3000 litres at a time. This is what he captured.

Find Non at all good bottle shops, or buy direct at non.world.