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Johnson City winery offers nation's first hemp-infused wine

JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. - While Governor Cuomo wants the Southern Tier to be national leader in the cultivation and study of industrial hemp, a Johnson City company says its already offering the nation's first hemp-infused wine.

Innovative Bottling Solutions is the maker of Sovereign Vines, a grape wine that adds a little bit of hemp extract to give it a different flavor.

Founded by the Castetter family about a year ago, Innovative Bottling got its liquor license three months ago and began selling its initial variety, a white wine blend, in February.

The white wine comes from the Finger Lakes.

Next, it plans a red using wine from California.

The hemp extract added does not contain any THC, the psychoactive component of hemp's close cousin marijuana.

It also does not contain any of the medicinal cannabinoids that B.U.'s Pharmacy School will be studying in its hemp research.

CEO Kaelan Castetter says the hemp is there for the flavor.

"It's very smooth. It kind of takes that acidic edge off the wine. We use a Cayuga grape and if you had a blind taste test between a Cayuga wine from Seneca Lake and our wine, you wouldn't think that there are any similarities at all," said Castetter.

Innovative Bottling currently gets its hemp extract from Colorado, but Castetter is hopeful that the company can get a license to grow its own hemp.

He also says Sovereign Vines is available in most local liquor stores with plans to spread across the state.

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