As we emerge from the pandemic and gauge the pop culture landscape, the priorities this summer and autumn are all about travel, dining, socializing, live music and events.
Organizations that specialize in these activities have been working during lockdown are ready to go. One of them is San Diego-based My Wine Society that has organized a series of wine and spirits, food, and music-themed events for this summer and fall.
The Blended Festivals is August 13 and 14 in Nashville, with Kaskade headlining with many other artists and DJs. Austin, Texas is September 10 and 11, with Kaskade starring there too with other big names such as Nelly. San Diego is October 15 and 16 with the Chainsmokers headlining and Nelly appearing there as well.
My Wine Society was founded in 2017 CEO Sean Evans, who wanted to create an app create an app that brings the wine community together,” says John Bazzo, President of My Wine Society. “It’s for people who want to find wineries or tastings near them and create a social platform to get a chance to see where other people are going.”
When Bazzo met Evans, “he told me about his idea and I immediately said, ‘Hey, I’d love to come on board,’” Bazzo says. “So I invested and we decided to do this together.”
They spent a year building out the website, created the app and launched the first Blended Festival in San Diego. “I always wanted to throw my own festivals,” Bazzo says. “We had some wineries and DJs get involved and wound up getting some great sponsors and had an amazing time with about 3,000 people.”
Then Bazzo and Evans looked at each and said in unison, “‘Let’s make this big!’”
The Nashville and Austin locations were underway before the lockdown hit in early 2020. However, the company continued to move forward by hiring a talent manager, a director of marketing, sommelier and a sponsorship team.
“We wanted to be ready to go big when everything opened again by getting sponsorships, vendors and major headliners for the 2021 festivals,” Bazzo says.
Maxim is sponsoring the company’s VIP village “We wanted to have amazing value for our tickets,” he adds. “So we have a 100-foot wine tent at all the festivals, a food aspect that ties in with the wine that includes a culinary stage and chef competitions. We also have a Wellness Center sponsored by When the Music Stops — a nonprofit that supports emotional and mental health through music; the center will have stretching, massages, yoga classes and hydration, throughout the day.”
The Wellness Centers in Nashville and Austin will be indoors as those cities will be warm in August and September. San Diego will be outdoors. Vendor space is still available for all cities, “but is filling up quickly,” Bazzo says.
General admission tickets will get individuals into all the Welcome Village, Wellness Lounge, culinary stage, main stage for performances, food for purchase and full bars that include craft beers, specialty cocktails and world-renowned wines. The VIP and Premium VIP tickets will get visitors into the Maxim VIP Village, which will have dedicated restrooms, a two-hour hosted bar, and preferred views of the performance stages. “The Premium VIP also gets you backstage to meet the artists,” Bazzo says.
Today, the company is “firing on all cylinders” simultaneously with the four facets of its business: the website, app, festivals, and a loyalty club.
“Our loyalty club — our wine-club subscription — is off to a great start,” Bazzo says. “We ship two bottles of wine to members once a month and it’s beautifully packaged with partner gifts such as candles, soaps and spices. We try to create themed gifts each month. For instance, May had a ‘Rose All May’ theme.”
The company has added comedienne Nicole Arbour as a celebrity partner. She covered the Blended event and is going to do a specialized Nicole Arbour gift box.
“We’re making this a celebrity status item,” Bazzo says. “We will offer influencer boxes and sale items. We will also highlight our festival host cities by featuring wine and gift items from vendors in the wine boxes for each month, so August will be dedicated to Tennessee wines and the items will be from Nashville suppliers.”
The website fosters enthusiasm and inclusion in the wine community with a Featured Winery of the Week and ‘Winefluencer’ of the Week. Members can also submit photos of themselves enjoying wine with their pets in the Wags and Wine section. There is also entertaining and educational content about wine to help build knowledge and improve one’s wine-loving experience.
“The app is our media division,” Bazzo says. “We’re full throttle with it. We want to be like all the other well-known media companies but geared specifically for all things wine. This will be built up in July. This should really start to take off in June as we get close to the festivals.”
The app enables wine enthusiasts globally to share their experiences, make friends, conduct meet ups, schedule tastings, and create international wine tourism plans.
Despite being young, the company has “demonstrated agility” as opportunity presented itself and lockdown forced rethinking of priorities. “Back in 2019, our main customer base was wineries, and we were asking them to be a part of our app so they could raise awareness and engage with people searching for tastings,” he says.
“Well, when everything came crashing down, we had to ask ourselves, ‘Now what do we do?’ This is when we created the Loyalty Club and with everyone staying home, we got to find opportunity where we can just ship wine to our customers. This involved getting our own California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) license so we could ship our own wine. Our direct-to-consumer license led to a full wine-club subscription model we now have.”
Getting an ABC license is rigorous and Bazzo credits liquorlicense.com with “helping us get a license and ensuring every deadline was met and all compliance issues were covered. Now, with everything opening up, there is great times ahead.”
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