1. Can you tell me a bit about how Wine Gallery came about and what it was that you initially saw was missing in the market?
I was always the guy that when out to dinner passed the wine list to a knowledgeable friend or when browsing at the bottleshop, stared up at the hundreds of bottles and didn’t know where to begin, so just stuck to something I knew. Online was no better, retailers focussed on big discounts and huge ranges just added to my confusion. Banjo on the other hand came at it from the other side. He was already recognised as one of the best Somms in Australia for his work at Attica, and he was looking for a way to share his love and passion for wine and lesser-known bottles and varieties with a broader audience than the thirty or so fine diners who came into his restaurant each night. So when we met, we started dreaming about a service which acted more like a trusted friend or personal Somm. One that could take you on a wine journey in which you could discover new bottles, learn about new varieties, explore new regions, experiment with food pairings and level up your wine knowledge and learn about you tastes as you went. So that’s what we built. We started off doing everything by hand, looking at everyone’s orders, ratings, notes and then personally curating their boxes. But with some great early traction, we knew we were onto a good thing and that we needed technology to help us to achieve out vision. Which is where our third co-founder, Humberto (aka tech wizard) came in to help. He jumped at the challenge of building a platform like Netflix or Spotify Discover, but for something he truly loved, Wine!
2. How does your subscription service differ from older models of wine subscription services / wine clubs?
We use a mix of technology and expert curation to build a personal wine journey for each and every one of our members, based on their tastes, their feedback, their preferences and their level of adventurousness. No two members go on the same wine journey. We also have a level of interactiveness that no one other company offers. We announce their personal recommendations for the month a few days before we send and they have the chance to make changes, add extras, decide to skip or even blacklist wine types they don’t like. And because we collect feedback in the form of ratings and notes on each and every bottle, this allows us to give a level of service which has never been provided before. At least not at scale. But most importantly we trust in our service to keep our customers, so they can cancel, pause, or request make-up bottles if they aren’t 100% happy, whenever they like.
3. Why should people choose a wine subscription service? What do you offer that’s better than a local bottle shop?
Imagine you walked into your bottleshop and the friendly clerk knew who you were right away and remembered all your preferences. What you liked, what you didn’t like, and remembered all the previous bottles that he or she had sold you and what you had rated them after you finished them. They then used all this info to select a number of new bottles which you hadn’t tried before, that they thought you would love. Not only that, but they handed you a card for each bottle with the story behind the makers, sommelier written tasting notes and food pairings, and its very own individually constructed matching recipe. But just before you walked out of the store, they had a look had a quick look at your customer file and saw that you had tried a bunch of new regions, wine styles, production methods and even shared notes with friends over the last month, so they rewarded you with points to redeem for free bottles on your next visit.
4. What kinds of people are using your service? Is this different from the kind of people you initially thought would be your target market?
Generally we’ve found we’ve appealed to a younger demographic who haven’t yet decided what they like and don’t like and who want to try new things. But one pleasant surprise has been also appealing to customers at the upper end of the market, who know what they liked and consider themselves conosiors, but who have really taken to using the Wine Gallery help them discover new and interesting bottles they otherwise wouldn’t have come across. I guess it helps having one of Australia’s most respected somms as our co-founder and chief wine buyer.
The Wine Gallery