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The Story Behind the Launch of Gary Vaynerchuk's Empathy Wines

Jon Troutman and Nate Scherotter, co-founders of new direct-to-consumer winery Empathy Wines, share the details on how they started the business with renowned entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The worlds of fine wine and digital marketing may seem far apart, but one of the most prominent and successful marketers, Gary Vaynerchuk, got his start by blending the two to create Wine Library TV in 2006. Since then, Vaynerchuk went on to start several other businesses, including VaynerMedia, one of the top digital agencies in the world.

As Vaynerchuk's media empire grew over the past decade, two of his disciples, Jon Troutman and Nate Scherotter, climbed the ranks. Along the way, the three worked together to create other wine-related businesses such as Cork'd, a social network for wine enthusiasts, while also growing VaynerMedia into the powerhouse it is today.

Now, the trio has partnered to create what they hope will be an industry-disrupting, direct-to-consumer winery called Empathy Wines. With a motto of "Empathy for the Farmer, Empathy for You," the winery aims to cut out the middlemen to save consumers money on wine, while also trying to create more of a connection between consumers and the farmers in Northern California who supply the grapes for these wines.

I sat down recently with Troutman and Scherotter for a candid discussion about starting Empathy Wines and their experiences working for and with Vaynerchuk.

The winery creates three distinct offerings -- a rosé that will first ship in March 2019, a white wine blend that will ship around May 2019 and a red blend that will ship around August or September. Customers can start by purchasing three shipments of either three, six or twelve bottles so that they can eventually try each variety. At the largest quantity, the costs including shipping are as low as $20 per bottle.

The group has high ambitions for the company, as they want to become the go-to, household name in wine. They hope that by selling direct-to-consumer, they can not only provide convenience but also appeal to a broad market. That means attracting both budget-conscious wine drinkers who might be looking to try something a little bit more high-end, as well as wine enthusiasts who might otherwise purchase a $40 bottle but are happy to spend less if they can do so with Empathy Wines.

In this episode, Troutman and Scherotter also share what it's like to work with Vaynerchuk, a man they say has a unique style of honing talent. While he doesn't necessarily provide traditional mentorship with direct coaching every step of the way, he provides a great model for others to watch and learn from.

Moreover, Vaynerchuk preaches the value of empathy. Whether someone is selling agency services or wine, having empathy for the customer and those involved with the product or service goes a long way toward growing a business.

Watch more videos from Carlos Gil on his YouTube channel here. Follow Carlos Gil on Instagram @CarlosGil83.


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