Everyone always tells you to do what you love and love what you do. But growing up in the SF Bay Area, there only seemed to be one thing to do: Tech.
Little did I know that I would find my real passion in the “backyard of the bay“, Napa and Sonoma, aka Wine country!
From Techie to WineO
Even though these spectacular wineries were so close, I really didn’t give much thought to them growing up.
I knew I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the many pioneers in the area and be an entrepreneur.
But exactly what I’d do I still had to figure out. In the meantime getting some experience in Tech was the logical plan.
So after college, I worked in Silicon Valley for 10 years. My experiences in the corporate world were incredible. I learned the many ins and outs of business, won awards for my work, and I “climbed up the ladder“.
I have no regrets and am incredibly grateful.
But I didn’t love my work. What I really wanted was to start my own company in an industry I have a real passion for.
It seems a bit cheeky to say I love wine. I’m sure I’ve said as much when I was indiscriminately chugging wine bottles in college. At that time I drank a lot of wine, but never really understood nor fully enjoyed it.
For changing my tune, I actually have to thank my dad. We were having dinner at a steakhouse to celebrate my first promotion, and he brought a wine to pair.
It was the first time I really felt how good wine could taste with food, and it really changed the way I thought about wine, its intricacies, its history, and its ability to bring people together.
I started driving north to wine country every weekend, learning about a world that had been in my backyard the whole time.
I tasted and studied until I became a certified sommelier, and by then I was already hooked.
Now that I had a passion could I make it into a business?
Starting in Shanghai
So, after spending so much time in California Wine Country, I knew the area like the back of my hand and I love the wine here. And after winning the Judgement of Paris in 1976 Californian wines (specifically Napa Valley) were put on the map, but we still didn’t get as much respect as the “Old World” wines.
And this was especially true in China, which had a rapidly growing market for wine. I thought why not bring Californian wine to China.
While I knew a bit of Chinese, I hadn’t really spent much time in China having grown up in the States. But how can you reach success without taking a risk?
So I took the plunge, moved to a completely new place, and started my company. I had already made the supplier connections in California, but I needed to develop a customer base in China.
How would I reach new people, educate them on Californian wine, and make it memorable?
The answer was hosting wine events! Not the usual boring stuffy tasting, but a real party where everyone can have a good time, learn about wine without the pretense, and bring their friends.
After a few years, I had built up a great business and had a regular clientele, but what I really loved was hosting the events not just selling the wine. And what I realized was that even back home a lot of people craved a fun and easy way to learn about wine.
WineO Club NYC
So I created WineO Club, and we started a wine club that had over 1,500+ people signed up.
And then we created our own WineO events, where people could come together in our NYC Midtown location to learn about wine in a fun and interactive way.
In just TWO years we became the #1 Wine Event in NYC! Over our 1st 2 years, we had:
Companies we have worked with
In additional to our regular public events, we had many private events for Birthdays and Bachelorettes parties.
We also had events for numerous large corporations and non-profits in NYC with up to 200 people per event.
And our events became so popular, customers had to book 3 months in advance before they SOLD OUT! It was AMAZING!
We were growing remarkably, and I was looking forward to 2020 being our best year yet. We were already booking large events into August and I expected us to busier than ever.
But then COVID came.
And we had to cancel all our events. And we had to close up our incredible space in Midtown NYC.
And to be honest, I was devastated and it seemed like all that we had worked for these past few years had just gone up in smoke.
But it’s in adversity that we can find a real opportunity. Maybe this wasn’t the end, but just another beginning.
WineO to the World
As the world moved virtual, face to face events became impossible. But that doesn’t mean we still couldn’t reach our WineO Club Community.
We decided to create an online channel and this blog. And while we are disappointed that at this point we are no longer interacting face to face with our customers, we now hope to reach a larger audience.
So we look forward to the change and we hope you find our blog and channel simple, informative, and fun!
Through my career, we’ve developed many relationships with wineries all over the world. From boutique to award-winning high-level wineries.
And through our wine club and our wine events, we have understood better what customers want and the issues they face when buying wine.
We have dealt with both the buying and selling process of wine, and now I’ve made it my mission now to help WineOs like YOURSELF understand this delicious industry.
From where to travel for the best wine to how to order wines at restaurants to most importantly what wines to buy, I will share my experiences and give my personal recommendations throughout this blog and our channel.