Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in wine but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amy Morgan, Founder & Director of Bay Area Wine Company, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Bay Area Wine Company is a wine club that offers curated wine delivery subscriptions to all wine enthusiasts, from novices to sommeliers-in-training and everyone in between. Each case is customized to suit our client's tastes and budget. In addition to wine subscriptions, we offer bespoke wine events for both personal and corporate clients and in-home sommelier visits. Each wine from BAWC also comes with a personalized note about the producer and region, so our clients can expand their wine knowledge one sip at a time.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in the Midwest, where beer rules. When I graduated from college, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and worked in event planning. My manager at the time was obsessed with wine. He put together a "wine tasting seminar" as a team bonding activity. That team-building activity changed my life. I was hooked.
Wine became my side hustle. I later moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and worked for Harvard Business School, running their Executive Education programs. Outside of my job responsibilities, I asked if I could work with HBS's culinary team in selecting wines for dinners, graduations, and events. They agreed, and I loved it! I was also in graduate school at the time and spent a lot of my time dreaming about going into the wine business full-time. When I finished my graduate program, I felt like I would be wasting my education by going into wine. Following your passion felt like a privilege for people who didn't have to pay rent.
It was my boyfriend at the time (now husband) who finally gave me the last push I needed to jump into wine. He co-founded his own start-up and reassured me that all my experience and education had prepared me for this next step; I just needed to take it. So I did.
I moved to San Francisco, and I started taking sommelier courses and became a certified sommelier. I took a job as a Wine Director for a small company called Wine Meats Cheese and Beverage Director for Shin Dig, located in the Inner Sunset. I was responsible for creating one-of-a-kind wine experiences for clients through wine education, wine pairings, and events. I also started Mater Wine Consulting LLC and did private wine consulting for clients. I spent an additional two years in the prestigious Wine and Spirits Education Trust Diploma Program and graduated with Merit. The Diploma program is an in-depth study of wine regions, the business of wine, winemaking, and food pairings. And in 2015, I decided to combine all my experiences and founded Bay Area Wine Company.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is when I'm hired for a wine education event, and the participants come up and tell me how much they learned about wine from me. Wine can be intimidating, and helping people build confidence to explore new wines or wine regions is very fulfilling.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Time management. I work every single day. I actually "schedule" downtime.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get creative with ways to balance everything on your plate. Work is just one part of our lives, and we all have demands on our time. It can feel overwhelming at times to balance it all. That is when you need to get creative. A couple of years ago, I was feeling extremely guilty about being away from my family on the weekends because of work. My company was in the middle of inventory at the warehouse, so I brought my two young daughters to work with me. My daughters counted wine bottles, wrote wine labels, and helped organize. Both of my daughters became very good at multiplying by twelve because cases of wine come in twelve packs! They had a ton of fun, we all got to be together, and the inventory was completed. Every year when we do inventory, they still ask if they can come help!
- Your Reputation Matters- People like to work with honest and hard-working people. If you say you are going to do something, do it. It matters how you treat each person you encounter. Treat your suppliers with the same respect you treat your clients.
- Everyone is a Teacher. It is easy to get into the mindset that you are the most knowledgeable person in the room. However, everyone is a teacher. When I go out to dinner and I speak to the waiter or sommelier, I don't tell them I am a sommelier as well. I want to learn from them. Maybe they are going to tell me about a new producer I haven't heard of yet or an obscure Italian varietal that was just imported into the US for the first time. If I had started the conversation by stating my credentials, they could have felt intimidated or not wanted to waste my time stating information that I might already know. Everyone has something to teach us if we are willing to listen.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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