Many wines from California’s small boutique wineries never make it to Florida. Brian Seel wants to change that.
The love of wine is at an all-time high, with over 36 billion bottles produced each year. That’s a staggering number of labels to choose from. And what to choose? Just watch the dazed and confused customers standing next to you next time you’re in the wine aisle. Like them, you probably end up just grabbing something with a pretty label, or if you can afford it, something over 30 bucks that you hope will measure up to the expectations of your dinner guests.
This is where Brian Seel comes to the rescue. The Pinellas County native is the founder of a business that offers a new way to explore the world of wine. His company, Vineration, offers a subscription-based wine club that gives oenophiles an edge in finding wines that would otherwise be unavailable to Florida consumers.
Seel, a certified sommelier, has traveled to over 230 wineries around the world and written countless articles on wine and wine travel for magazines like the Tampa Bay Fine Wine Guide. Pursuing a whirlwind bucket-list tasting adventure, he and his wife Lindsay traveled to 27 different countries and famous wine destinations in just one year, places like South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina.
Following their world tour, Brian and Lindsay put down their luggage for a longer stay in the Sonoma Valley, Northern California’s most beautiful wine region, While in Sonoma, Brian gained a whole new understanding of what winemakers are up against when it comes to getting their products into the various distribution chains. He discovered that many incredible California wines from small boutique wineries that produce 12,000 bottles or less each year never make it to Florida because they are just “too far away.”
Florida follows a three-tier system of distribution, which mandates that wine must be sold from wineries to distributors and then to retailers before it reaches consumers. But there’s a loophole, as Seel’s site explains: “The only exceptions to the Three Tier System are Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) sales, which means you can purchase directly from the winery. However, because most small wineries don’t have a marketing rep in Florida, the only way you’d discover them is by tracking them down in person. Vineration emerged to fill that void.” Through the club, Seel has become a kind of matchmaker — scouting, vetting and creating an opportunity for Floridians to learn about wines they might never have discovered.
So how can Tampa Bay wine lovers take advantage of what Vineration offers?
When you become a member of Vineration, you will receive two bottles per month, all from California, Oregon or Washington boutique wineries. Included with your delivery are the stories of each bottle’s origin and a tasting guide. Members also receive benefits like invitation-only tastings and winemaker dinners, wine travel concierge services, discounts on wines, sommelier services, events and wine educational resources. The cost of membership is $77 per month, which includes a $10 flat shipping fee.
For more information or to join the club, visit vineration.com.