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Vintage Appeal

Breathing new life into an old product.

So much for hearing it through the grapevine. Although wine is a much appreciated (and even coveted) alcoholic beverage among older consumers, the youth of today are decidedly reluctant to exchange their beloved brewskies in favor of, say, chilled Chardonnay. What's a presumed-to-be old-fashioned (read: stodgy) industry supposed to do?

Pop the cork on Wine Brats, launched five years ago by Sonoma Valley vineyard heirs Jeff Bundschu, Jon Sebastiani and Michael Sangiacomo (pictured below at left, second from left, and far right, respectively). The nonprofit Santa Rosa, California-based organization is working to get notoriously wine-shy Generation Xers into the cellar. "We're out to introduce the next generation to wine," sums up executive director Joel Quigley. "We [present] wine in a fun, approachable way."

Fun? Approachable? Wine? Yes, as the Wine Brats are proving, wine can be as hip as it wants to be. All that's needed are the 42-plus chapters of Wine Brats throughout the country, a membership newsletter for the more than 10,000 Brats, and, most significantly, creative events such as the group's immensely popular Wine Rave tour.

"People walk out just blown away," says Quigley of the Wine Raves that blend music, fashion, technology, food and wine into one event. "People come for a lot of different reasons, and the next thing you know, they taste wine."

And become converts? "Everybody basically feels we're having an impact," says Quigley. "It's pretty exciting."

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Vintage Appeal.

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