Amateur winemaker Tom Shula announced today he has secured $1M for an independent winemaking venture. Shula, a trained theoretical physicist, and now real estate broker “by day” plans to produce a 100 percent Merlot from Pickberry Vineyard, a unique 30-acre vineyard located on the northeast slope of Sonoma Mountain near Glen Ellen, California, which has supplied premium Bordeaux varietals to the Ravenswood and other prominent Sonoma Country winery brands since the 1980’s. Shula raised the money by turning to Angel members of NakedWines.com, an online wine company that lets wine drinkers crowdfund winemakers.
As part of the deal, Shula, who has won numerous amateur winemaking awards in recent years, will collaborate on his Merlot with existing NakedWines.com crowdfunded winemaker, Jim Olsen. Additionally, Shula has plans to create a Sonoma County Merlot blend as part of an independent venture. Prior to becoming a real estate broker, Shula worked in the Silicon Valley high tech sector for 25 years.
Founder and CEO of NakedWines, Rowan Gormley stated, “Tom was originally an Angel himself … he was making wine in his garage since 2007 until he connected with our team. After realizing the quality of wine that Tom was producing, we quickly spread the word to our Angels about his incredible talents. Shortly thereafter, we managed to raise the money for him to launch his efforts into a full-scale project, as well as a financially sustainable winemaking career. Tom’s angel investors are eagerly awaiting their opportunity to sample his delicious, unique creations.”
Shula, an avid wine enthusiast who has studied fine wines for more than 35 years, said he is grateful for the NakedWines.com funding opportunity. He also said he’s excited about offering customers his expertise from the vineyard straight to the glass.
Gormley also shared that the unique funding structure at NakedWines.com gives winemakers (amateurs and industry veterans alike) like Shula the chance to do what they love–make fantastic wine–without worrying about all the sales and marketing costs involved in creating a new brand.
He then added, “A few years ago, I looked for a path to go commercial, but couldn’t pull together the financial resources needed in the conventional model. However, when I became an Angel in 2012, I thought this type of funding might actually work for me. And, now, thanks to NakedWines.com Angel funding, my lifelong dream of being a winemaker is becoming a reality.”
Shula’s wine will initially be available to Angel investors for the first month at wholesale price, after which the public can purchase at the full list price of $35.99.
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