Ahhh it’s that time of the year again! As you may or may not know, I LOVE featuring some incredible founders / artists every summer. If you know anyone who would love to be featured, please contact me and I’ll be glad to share their story! It’s incredibly inspiring to hear what happens behind the creation of a particular product, company or store. For the next month, you’ll learn about 3 founders that I met who are incredible human beings with such a strong passion about what they do.
First, I’m thrilled to introduce Mark Fang, the witty and humble co-founder and teacher of the Wine O Club. Co-founded with Jabin Kim, the two have created a club that customizes to people’s personal tastes and provides classes to teach the basics of identifying, tasting, and pairing wines. It’s up to you what wines you get, when you get them, and how often. What makes this company stand out for me was that the 2-hour wine tasting session was classy without being pretentious and provided a really fun and comfortable way of learning the different kinds of wines and what to look and smell for. If you think your sense of smell is strong, you may be surprised (I sure was!).
So to find out a little more about the story behind this company, I was fortunate to have a one-on-one interview with Mark at Wine O Club’s new event space in an elegant but casual atmosphere in Midtown. If only you can hear the chuckles and the sense of humor behind the scenes with him, but you’ll definitely know what I mean by that if you sign up for the class as Mark is often the teacher!
When you’re done, be sure to read below for a little surprise just for YOU!
So Mark, tell us a little about yourself!
Starting with college, I studied economics out in California and became a sales engineer at a laser company for 5 years. It was a good learning curve but I later went into a startup company and got into sales. After a few years in the company and watching it grow, I became the vice president of sales. It was great to have worked directly with the CEO because of the gain in growth and respect. I knew I wanted to start my own company so I lived through the experience through him and now here I am!
You started Wine O Club in California, correct? What makes it different than all the other wine clubs out there?
There are two ways that we are different. First, the value. All the wines sold in stores are a little higher priced. With our club, you get to personalize what wines you want delivered and we aim to provide the best value. So for instance you purchase our club at $47 for 3 bottles, we want our retail value of those wines to be $65 and up. We are also different because we hold our own WineO events. In general the subject of wine tends to have a pretentious feel and we don’t want that. We want to create a fun atmosphere for everyone.
How has your company grown?
We now have three locations: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Our focus groups at first were just our friends. We learned a lot from their notes and feedback. Then we started to hold pop up events all throughout New York City. We learned how different cheeses could be better paired and how we can make the event more fun and interactive. Today we continue to improve based on people’s feedback. In the future, I see it growing with thousands of members who will enjoy some great wines at affordable prices and learn more about wines through our Wine O events. It’s really about doing something I love and just keep having a good time with it.
What made you become a sommelier and what was the process like?
Well, in my 20s, as many of us do, I drank a decent amount. I always loved wine with friends. It has some health benefits, but really, I enjoyed it for the complexity. So I went to Napa for four months to study and taste wines and became a certified sommelier.
What is your favorite wine?
Caymus Vineyards! They have a bold complex Cabernet Sauvignon.
You were really lucky to have Napa Valley and other vineyards nearby. What advice would you give to someone in New York City who wants to learn about wine and possibly become a sommelier too?
First, come to our class! Learn the basics. It’s hard in New York City as it takes 50 years for wines to really grow. You do need to venture out and enjoy those experiences. Travel to different places too – France, Italy, California. You’ll learn a lot as you go.
A huuuuuuuuge thank you to Mark for taking time to share your story. If you’re all reading this now, Wine O Club is offering $40 off any wine event for my readers- just visit www.wineo101.com and use the coupon code lilspirations. Pleaseeee share this post so your friends can also join in the fun 🙂
Lastly, check my Instagram @lilspirations for a special giveaway this week –
You can win a free wine class for you and a friend. Your wine glass is constantly refilled! Now THAT’s what we call un-WINE-ding. Cheers!