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2018: This is the Year


Back in 2011, I was a kid.  Barely 30 and starting a business that I don’t think I had any business doing at the time.  I didn’t know enough about life, about ecommerce, about myself, about wine.  Amazingly, we survived.  In some ways, it’s more unexpected than you might realize.  Our competitors largely fell into one of two buckets: those that existed pre-internet as mail order wine clubs, or those with significant storefronts.  More recently, we’ve seen the rise of venture capital backed wine clubs.

These days, I know enough.  I know where my next sale is coming from.  I know a bit about PR. I can market this thing a little bit online and off. I have a decent handle on what people expect in terms of customer service and experience even if providing the perfect experience in a bootstrapped startup that’s down a business partner (don’t worry Matt and I continue to not hate each other, I’m happy he’s happy and I know he’s rooting for Uncorked Ventures to be as successful as we initially expected it to be) is about as tough as you might expect.

I’m thankful to have a shot to really get this done.  In 2018, I’m going to give something a try occasionally in this space.  Something approaching a real update of what’s happening.  People seem interested, so why not?

So what’s coming in 2018?  Largely, I view this as the year when I get to find out what I have.  Am I insane for thinking I can do this is an ever more crowded field with no real built in advantages?  Or are relationships and being a pretty darn good generalist enough to build a business?

So here’s what I’m working on and how the experience will be better in 2018:

  • Uncorked Ventures branded social media. You’ll see something more corporate on Twitter and Instagram at least.  Don’t worry, I’ll still be around on those myself, surely annoying people with a general lack of wine conversation.  I’ll also be resurrecting the Facebook page. I don’t really like the platform, but if my mom’s on it, there’s sales and interest there to be sure.
  • Newsletters Are Going To Be More Official: When mentioned that they really enjoyed the wine club, they mentioned that the newsletters looked to be printed on my home printer.  They are.  They’ll continue to be.  If you’re wondering why, I simply would rather ship better wine and spending 10-15% of the price of your shipment on printing, for the Explorations Wine Club, seems nonsensical.  But, they’re going to come with better information and will have a short snapshot of each wine at the beginning as well as an update directly from me about the wine club and my progress at the end.
  • I’ll have continued website improvements throughout the year.  Starting the first week in January you’ll likely notice a much, much faster website.  Then, you’ll see redesigned pages and some added functionality.  As an example, the wine gifts page is getting a complete, utter re-do. It’ll come with the opportunity to print customized gift message directly from the site.
  • Gift Baskets.  Seriously.  I think my friends and family are sick and damn tired of hearing me talk about everything I want to accomplish on the gift baskets side of Uncorked Ventures.  Largely that’s due to the fact that I kind of hate the old, tired gift basket choices available everywhere else.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like Starbucks and Ghiradelli as much as anyone…..but I want to do something more local, more unique.
  • Corporate gifts: I don’t think many of you would be surprised to hear that corporate gifts, are quite nice when they happen.  I’ll be getting things set up to make this easier on company representatives to order.
  • The Blog: I’ve done an adequate job here.  I’d like to do better.  I’m going to attempt bi-weekly long form content, think something closer to my predictions for the future of wine. The smaller goal here is to provide daily content.  Some of that is going to be video, that’s pretty simple and not entirely time intensive.  I’d like to increase production value on those, even if it’s only slightly. I’ll have a video intro for each wine that shipped as part of our wine clubs, that’s something that I increasingly hear that people like to see/read.  I’ll continue to transcribe those videos as well, since I know not everyone always high speed internet available. I’ll also be posting some of what others are writing for the site in this space.  If you’re interested, please get in touch: write for us. Don’t get me wrong in terms of the blog, I don’t want to be writing blogs about how to start a book club in order to try and sell more wine or to provide daily updates.  I’d rather be more geeky and ask a winemaker about his Carignan.

Ok, there’s a few other things.  Winemaker TV continues to progress and episodes are going to start in the middle of the month.  While that’s not necessarily directly Uncorked Ventures related, I know you all like to see the winemakers that made the wine that’s in their glass.  Video is the future.  I think we have a really cool concept and I think there’s an obvious overlap in play here.  I’ll assume that you’re interested in tv quality video about the wine industry, until I’m told otherwise.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.  It’s going to be an awfully interesting year around here.

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