Through the Grapevine

Marketing directly to consumers distinguishes this wine importer from industry peers.
Magazine Contributor
1 min read

This story appears in the November 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Most wine importers get their vino into the marketplace through what the industry calls the "three-tiered system"-the importer strikes a deal with a distributor, who then markets the product to retailers and restaurateurs. Not Seattle-based Small Vineyards LLC, an importer specializing in hand-harvested wine from family-owned vineyards in Italy. Co-founders Josh Hanson, 36, Doug Fugate, 49, and Kay Syrrist, 50, developed a concept virtually unheard-of in the wine industry: a direct-to-consumer approach in which employees host in-store tastings, wine dinners and other events.

"No one is in a position to train the salespeople and develop the brand like the importer," says Hanson, whose unorthodox business model has paid off to the tune of $5 million in 2005 sales-an 85 percent increase over the previous year. The 5-year-old business continues to mature, with year-end sales projected to increase by another 50 percent.

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Starting, buying, or growing your small business shouldn’t be hard. Guidant Financial works to make financing easy for current and aspiring small business owners by providing custom funding solutions, financing education, and more.

Latest on Entrepreneur