A Sense of Wine
Simply put, I started out at the bottom and worked my way up. A friend owned a tasting room and asked if I would help out- I fell in love with learning and sharing the stories of the families I worked for. From there I moved on to bigger (and more corporate) wineries and eventually landed back at a family owned winery, albeit the largest family owned winery in the world, Gallo! Working for Gallo was one of the most important roles of my career. I loved the family story, the wines, traveling to different countries and learning about the wines and partners and again, sharing the knowledge via wine education, training and development.
Combining my certifications (Advanced Somm, CSW, WSET) with a training background and my own personal style led me to start a consulting company, A Sense of Wine. This platform allows me to provide customized programs for my clients, is never boring and requires me to stay on top of my game. Whether it is a cruise line, a silicon valley company or group of beginners wanting to know more, I love developing programs that exceed expectations.
I wanted to create an opportunity to teach about wine. Formal wine training can be tiresome, boring
and not at all entertaining but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Taking a traditionally passive style of learning (you sit, I
stand, I lecture, you take notes and there is tons and tons of PowerPoint) and
turning it into an interactive style. An
environment where guidance is given but the guests is the one doing the fun-
blending the wine, sipping the wine, smelling and writing down what they think about it.
It occurred to me that with my skills and credentials I
could create a business that could permeate many aspects of the industry but it
was important to focus.
The corporate market was ripe for new versions of teambuilding- rope courses
and 5 day workshops were ripe for a makeover and wine was the answer! So I created programs like “Wine blending
Workshop” where teams had to blend a wine, name it, brand it, put a cost to it,
create a marketing plan and pitch their product to the other teammates and the
best brand wins. Or “Color Blind with
Wine” where you taste wine in black wine glasses and see if you can tell if
it’s red or white, or what varietal or even what region! And an aroma seminar where there is a
stunning display of fresh herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, dirt, rocks and
even chalk- all you have to do is smell the wine in your glass (which has been
“doctored” with an aroma that is in the display)and match it.
While the groups are “doing” I am able to weave in wine
education in a fun, and most importantly, relevant way to the group. The program delivery is adjusted to each
group- are they competitive? Intimidated? Fun? Serious? Creating programs that could be flexible as
far as content was key. Just because I
had a big giant toolbox didn’t mean I had to use every tool at every
Next up was the wine industry itself. Large wineries already
had training and education departments with budgets and small wineries didn’t
have these departments or the budget. Mid-size
wineries would be the market, somewhere in the 100,000 to 250,000 case sizes. This size winery had some budget and it would
be more cost effective to hire a consultant than a full time person. The model thus far has worked well and now
opportunities in the cruise line industry becoming real.
Another key component is The Wine Tasting Tool©. The growth potential is huge- tasting room
sales in wineries, I use it when I create programs so clients have to purchase
it from me and website sales. I have not given this project the time it
requires to become a revenue stream simply due to priorities. I do plan on putting focus on this in 2016. With The Winemakers Studio at Wente Winery
using The Wine Tasting Tool for their programs and soon with Norwegian Cruise
Line, these will help generate leads and give credibility.
As they say in life “timing is everything”, well I can
certainly attest to that. Starting a
company in 2007 was not great timing.
But through hard work, perseverance, staying focused and remaining
optimistic, A Sense of Wine has doubled in business the past three years!