How to Choose the Best Wine

How to Choose the Best Wine

Check out the latest episode below. Mr.Biz Radio provides business owners with the knowledge and insights needed to drive their companies forward.

Mr. Biz Radio: How to Choose the Best Wine?

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:


Welcome to Mr. Biz radio biz Talk for biz owners during the next half hour, Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth, a leading business advisor, and two time best selling author will cover topics. That'll help business owners run their companies more profitably and more efficiently. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward, this show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth.


All right. Welcome to another episode of Mr. Biz Radio with me, Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth. And we are going to cover a topic today that we have literally we were just talking about before we came on air here. It is five year to the day since we started Mr. Biz radio producer Allen and myself you know, I've been working with him this whole entire time and it is literally five years ago on this date back in 2016, we did our very first show. So five years just realized that today pretty cool stuff, but so, and, and the point is in five years, we've never talked about this. So first of all, we're gonna talk to talk about an entrepreneurial journey, of course, but we're gonna talk about it specifically in regards to wine. Oh yeah. Little bit of veno talk. That's what we're gonna do. So we have with us this week our guest, his name, you might not know his name, but his name is Addison Rex. However he's otherwise known is Agent Cru, reporting for duty.


Yes. And he is the CEO of wine spies. So agent cru, welcome to Mr. Biz radio.


Hey, how's it going? Thanks for having me on.


Yeah, I've been looking forward to this. Like I said, we we let them mix it up. You know, I don't wanna have just, you know, boring business topics all the time, things like that. We can cover that too, but I wanna talk about things that impact our community, our communities, you know, predominantly entrepreneurs, business owners, but how many people out there are wine drinkers in the entre? Oh, there's


Lot of them out there all throughout history, man. Yeah, of course. Over the world.


So I guess to talk to us about, we usually start and, and I wanna hear kind of your entrepreneur journey. I started working at your family family's winery when you were probably just a youngin, right? That's


Right. Yeah. <Laugh> yeah. I'm, I'm a Northern California native. I grew up in Marin. My father's actually an architect, but his brother is the winemaker. And so in high school, when I realized that was a possible career path, <laugh> it was a very easy decision. I didn't not have that. Heming and hauling like, oh, what do I do with my life? I was like, oh, I could do wine. I'll do that. <Laugh> so, so I had a nice, I had a, a nice path laid out for me there. And you know, I really, I start. And so it's a, it's a beautiful winery in, in Sonoma, California, which is right next to Napa. If people are not familiar, it's also the fun, the fun valley, by the way.


Right. <laugh> I can attest to that. <Laugh>


Yes. There's. we have a, a huge wine cave, 23,000 square foot wine cave. And, and that had really just been dug in just getting open when I started. So I started on the production side, you know, we, we call it the cellar rat <laugh> cellar, rat duties, scrubbing barrels, racking barrels, topping, topping, barrels, all that stuff harvest. And yeah, I worked, I worked my way up slowly but surely. Eventually became the company's general manager. I was with them for about 10 years. And then about four years ago now, which is astonishing. I can't believe it's been here, been here four years already. I left to join the line spies agent red, who's the founder. We all have code names. I make agent crew <laugh>. We pick our spy work seriously. I like it. The brand that's one, that's one hot tip live the brand.


So I joined my, the, my, my good friend agent red. Who's the founder of this business. He found that it actually 13 years ago. And he's, we've been working on a couple D projects. I've been the CEO for the past three years. We've been able to just take advantage of, you know, we really have seen some unprecedented growth in the past couple years and, and it's, it's been phenomenal. We're sitting here in our beautiful new building. Actually. I've just got the painters here today and we're finishing up touches on our new offices as we're very happy to be moving in. And we're actually branching out. We've got a couple other new projects that we're working on, including the acquisition of a mushroom dietary supplement company adaptogens. So yeah, we're kind of spreading our wings a little bit and it's definitely an interesting point in my own particular entrepreneurial journey. Oh, I'm sorry to keep the company. Why not?


<Laugh> yeah, there you go. Well, I have to ask, so, you know, we hear all these these stories about the pandemic and the impact it's had on adult beverage sales. Let's just call 'em adult beverage sales. Did you guys see a big, big hu a big demand increase during


The pandemic? Yeah, I mean, it was massive of everybody that did direct to consumer sales, but I mean, I'm proud to say that, you know, even with the staggering numbers that were being put up by many people in this space, we beat all those numbers. And we were not starting from spare one. I mean, we'd been established company for 11 years. And yet, you know, we were, we, you basically 10X the company in two years, so, wow. And a big part of that was a roll out of a key feature, which we had been developing for many years and it just so happened that we had finally been able to finish development implement in April of 2020, which was just she coincidence. But it is pretty revolutionary and we're still the only people in the space that really do it. So that, that gave us a big edge for sure.


Yeah. Well, so I gotta ask, so we've got a couple minutes left here before we're gonna hit a break, but what, what's up with the code names? What, what


Story behind that join up? You have to, you have to, you have to figure out what your code name is. And I always, I always warn new agents going undercover. Like you better choose carefully what your code name's gonna be. Cause you actually are gonna be called that nowadays. Most people in the industry actually know me as Agent Cru through if you guys not a wine person, if that the cru means like it's a designation in France for like the, the tip top shelf, you know? Gotcha. But agent re is the founder the original co-founder with a white obviously, but our newest hires Agent Brute. So yeah.

But the code names are, it's the real deal. And, and I actually, when I joined, I'm like, can I be Agent Rex? Like is the one time in my life where I'm actually gonna get to be Agent Rex? I don't think I'm gonna the FBI anytime soon. So he's like, no, you gotta use your spot, man. You can't use your real name. So Agent Cru I've been for now four years.


So I have to ask, so again, we've got about, we've got just a little over a minute left, but so you decided, you said you, it was an easy decision for you to, to, to enter the wine business, if you didn't have to think about or anything like that. But even though you started out as a seller rat, even, you know, starting out with that and all, I'm sure it was a lot of Grimmy work and not easy stuff and pain in the butt, but even with that, you still had that


Passion. Oh yeah. I, I mean, I, I drink wine almost every night. I mean, there's so much to it. I mean, even having gone into the business, there's a lot of different career paths you can choose. I think people don't really realize that there's like the production side, which is, you know, if you're actually making wine, it's like chemistry, food, science, manufacturing, even like the art of cooking. If you're on the viticulture side, growing grapes, it's farming biology, soil side you know, agriculture farming. If you're on the business side, it's, it's, it's marketing in a highly competitive space of a highly regulated product that, you know, with a lot of niche, specialty considerations that other industries don't necessarily have, you know there's a whole separate body, which is like, like the Psalm thing.

It's like wine and lower and knowing all the wines of the world and, and all, and, you know, reviewing wines. So there's so many different careers just within the wine industry itself. So once you get in, there's a lot of roads you can take. And I'm very happy to, I mean, I have always liked, I really do like the entrepreneurial the way of, you know, how can take a problem, solve the problem and just make people's lives better, you know, while doing it. So that's, I, I love wine spies for that reason, certainly that certainly fits the bill. <Laugh>


Yeah. Good stuff. Good stuff.

Well, again, this week, when we're talking with Agent Cru, otherwise known as, as Rex, he is a CEO of wine spies. You can find out more at,

Come back after the break. We're gonna give Mr. Biz tip of the week. And the third segment you guys might be wondering about this. He is going to teach us how to choose wine, how to get a good value from wine. I have no clue. So I'm looking forward to that. So come back after the break on Mr. Biz radio


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All right. Welcome back to the show. It is time for Mr. Biz tip of the week, and I've been using this one for the last couple years. We mix 'em up as always, but I get this question so often. So we've kept it as a, as a tip, as one of our weekly tips. And that is, I get asked this all the time, no matter what the business industry needs, et cetera, how much money should I be spending on marketing? And the Mr. Biz official recommendation is you should be spending typically somewhere in the 2-8% of your revenue range. Now you can go above that up to about 15%, but usually what I suggest and recommend is that 9-15% range of your revenue is for short term opportunities. Maybe you've got a new product launch of you've opened a new location. Maybe, you know some of your competitors have gone outta the market, and you're trying to see some market share things like that short term opportunities, but generally speaking 2-8%.


And the other part I'll say on the low side is even when things are really tight, try, try, try to stay at least at 2%, because what happens is, think about this. If you're advertising on, on a regular basis, then whatever avenues you are advertising in, if all of a sudden you cut it off and you say, oh my gosh, I gotta cut expenses. Things are getting tight. I gotta cut 'em off. And let's say you were spending 5% and you go to zero.

All of the sudden, especially if it's during an economic downturn, like maybe the pandemic, et cetera, people start to wonder like, well, did they go to business? Cause I don't see them advertising anymore. So you wanna make sure, obviously you don't, you don't have that problem because then all of a sudden your, your pipeline dries up and, and you got a big problem.

So that is the Mr. Biz tip of the week. So agent Cru. So yeah, I saw, I saw one of your painters back there. You got it buzzing, man. You, you are working hard over there, wine spies headquarters.


Yeah. We've got about three different things going on right now, actually this, so this whole building, I mean, it's, it's a huge warehouse. We're doing a lot of exciting things. We're building a whole shop media studio, a couple different sets, so we can do some high end production content. So yeah, I mean, it's, it's, <laugh>, it's all happening. We're, we've, we've acquired this building in March and we've been doing the renovations and we're actually moving in later this week and we're gonna get out of the lobby where we've all been crammed in. So we're very excited about that. <Laugh>


I like it. So you had mentioned, so what was the key for you guys last year? You said, you know, in the last couple years, you've 10X’d the business. Has there been anything that's been like a, like a, a game changer for you? Has it just been the demand during the pandemic that helped? Was it a combination of several different things?


So, so the main game changer was the rollout of a new feature called, called lockers. So with our business model, we sell one wine every day. So when you go to our site you'll see one wine and then tomorrow it's gonna be a different wine. And it's always at a crazy price. I mean, really like we have for very deep discounts. And there's no like, you know, there's no magic trick. There's nothing to it. I mean, we really do just have relationships with thousands of different supply producers, distributors, importers and we, we hunt for crazy good deals. And then the thing is we only bring that deal to you for one day, which is how we're able to get away with that price point. But there's a few competitors in our space and every single one of them, they have kind of like free shipping on six bottles.


That's their model. Well, you think about it, all right. Let's say we have like, you know, a hundred dollars wine, but we're bringing it to you today for 50% off 50 bucks. Great deal. But if you have to buy six bottles of it or that's $300 value proposition, I've never tasted this wine. How much do I really wanna check this wine out? It's a pretty big ask. So with our system called lockers, you can actually buy as few bottles as you want one bottle, two bottles, three bottles, and you can put them in your virtual locker. And then when you have 12 bottles, which is a full case, then you can chip it to yourself for free. And it just, it works out really nicely. People love it. So that, that was a big one. The other one was just investing in the team.


So when I came on board, you know, Agent Red had been successfully running the company, making a tidy profit for himself and keeping it at a pretty steady pace for a decade. And you know, it was comfortable. I mean, he's, he, he he's done well for himself. And the company was self-sustaining. We had decided to embark on some growth and, you know, we, we found a little bit of SBA capital, you know, not much, but that was enough to make some key hires, including a marketer and including a wine buyer, but a very knowledgeable wine buyer. And so we improved the quality. We did three things, simultaneously improved the quality of our offers. We got serious about our traditional marketing, which traditionally these days is like, you know, Facebook ads. And we rolled out a key new feature that solved a major pain point in the marketplace.


So, you know, those were kind of the secrets of, you know, the, the big part of the success. And then we built on top of that. We rolled up another key feature. We, what we built the pirate site from the ground up launched in August. It's just more usable than ever. We release another feature called the vault, which 20 bucks it's basically you can buy a mystery bottle. And it's all the, the, the rewards are allocated totally randomly, and it's more super transparent about it. And so people are winning like, you know, $200 Napa cabs for 20 bucks. And it comes to tissue wrap and you don't know what it is until you open it. That's, that's pretty cool. So that's a new thing that we rolled out and then we're having, we're launching our app problem in the first quarter of next year.


So we're just kind of trying to build on each of these successes. And, you know, when, when you spoke about, you know the percentage that you wanna allocate to marketing, I mean, it really, you're absolutely right. It can be a function of revenue, and then it's specific also to what your particular company's profit margins are. And then also how much you want it invest in growth. You should always have a rainy day fund, but, you know, if you wanna see that top line grow you know, be prepared to spend, you know, what, what you have in, in terms of, you know, CapEx. So we've put a lot of money in marketing in the past couple years. We, we actually put together like a very expensive high end commercial that you should check out is pretty fun. You get meet the agent red as, as played by Jason stadium lookalike. <Laugh> nice. But yeah. So, and then, so then we kinda embarking on new marketing campaigns like that.


Well, I gotta tell you, I love the concept of lockers and vault, because one of my questions for you is going to be, obviously one of the challenges in your industry is shipping. Yes. Not necessarily kind of a challenge pre pandemic, but now I, I, how have you guys been able, obviously lockers kind of get you around that to some extent, but I know a lot of my other clients, as a fractional CFO are dealing with shipping issues and things like that. So how have you guys been impacted by that?


Yeah, it's a huge pain point especially for wine, because you have to be there to sign for your package, right. So yeah, lockers is hugely helpful and that you can consolidate multiple wine orders together. I mean, heck even if you were a person that did like to buy six bottles at a time, well, now you have two, six bottle orders combined into one package. You have to be there for, but most of our P you know, most of our customers who we call our operatives, by the way, keeping toy branding going. Yeah. Most of our operatives they buy, you know, two bottles at a time, three bottles at a time. So, you know, it's really convenient for them still, they got this wine package coming in, you know right now where the industry is at, there's been a huge amount of consolidation, pretty much every single person or its company that sells wine.


They use a third party fulfillment center. That's, that's specific for wine. Even the big, really, really big things that you would know, they don't even bother fulfilling their own mind these days. Part of the reason for that is cuz you know, these massive fulfillment companies have one ups account. So their are economies of scaled and savings there. It's still cheaper for you to do it through them, you know, than where you to do it yourself, pay the ups and then labor and the warehousing, et cetera. But the problem is, is that, you know, there's a degree operation where you're relying on another company to just, you know, do that, not only their delivery, but they actually like physically pick the wine. So for example, there's been a lot of seasonal workers hired recently as usual and they're actually picking and packing the wines on our behalf.


You know, people have to pay us $9, which is our cost to put in nice in the chipper people, you know, the packer, who's a new seasonal untrained person. Doesn't put the ice pack in our customer's like I paid $9 for this ice pack. Where's my ice pack. And we're like, we're so sorry yet that we had no control over that. So that's a big challenge. You know, and, and fortunately, you know, we're at the size where we actually have some clout with the fulfillment center and, and it, it matters when, when we're unhappy, but you know, a lot of the winery clients who are just smaller wineries <laugh>, you know, they're like they, they could, they could complain all their want, nothing changes. So yeah.


Yeah. Well, Hey, we had hit a breakthrough real quick. Sure. Agent crew we're gonna hit a couple and, and then we're gonna come back and he's gonna teach us how to best choose a good wine on Mr. Biz radio.


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All right. Welcome back to Mr. Biz radio. And again, this week we've been talking with Agent Cru, CEO of and he's told us some innovative concepts that they have implemented at wine spies. And especially not only because of the pandemic, but, you know, sounds like some of it was almost coincidental. You guys had some of these things in the works and then ended up working out and timing was was very symbiotic. So that all being said, and with your vast experience in the, this industry, what are some ways, and I did some research on this a while back and I, I, I can't remember all the statistics off the top of my head, but it was interesting to me because it really hit home to me in kind of a bad, embarrassing way in that. How do people choose wine?


And a lot of people choose wine based on the label. Right. So they look at it and they go, well, I wanna buy, fill in the blank, a $50 bottle of wine. And they look at the $50 bottles of wine and they go, you know, they're drawn to a certain label, right? Because the label looks cool or elegant or exquisite or whatever. And I gotta imagine that's a huge thing within your industry, but so what are some ways, what are some ways as a consumer that we can, you know, find good value in wine, which you would be looking for?


Yeah, totally. I mean, it's the thing everybody wants to know. And yeah, I've got, I've got a short list of hot tips. First of all, I wanna preface by saying like, I'm the anti wine snob. If, if you, if a wine tastes good to you and you enjoy it, that is a good wine. So it's really, the question is how do you find a wine that you like? So I I'll start by saying that, you know, it's quite like there's kind of a minimum, minimum cost required to to make, to make good wine at all. Period, you can't really put it in the bottle for a certain quality. I would say these days under 15 bucks. So get ready to at least show a out that much money. There's not too many exceptions to that, but there, there are some, but as a good rule of thumb, that's helpful in terms of going by the label.


I mean, what else do you really have to go on? You know what I mean? 1, 1, 1 thing is is that if if you're looking at a bottle of wine, the more specific the geographical region, then the it's the higher quality it's gonna be typically as well. So if it just says California wine on it, then it's down here. If it says California wine, Sonoma county, all right, it's up here. If it says California wine, Sonoma county, Russian river valley, which is an area within Sonoma county, that's that much better. If it says California Sonoma county, Russian river valley Hz vineyard, okay. Now you've got so specific that it's coming from a sense of place. And you also know that that increased the value because there are, there's very few legal requirements about what can go into a bottle in, in America. But one of them is the, a percentage of the wine.


That is what we claim on the label. So if you say it's gonna come from this particular place, it has to come from that particular place. And being that selected with your grapes is a hallmark of quality. So if you see a lot of specificity, that's probably a good sign. You know, the other thing I'd say is just find <affirmative>. So like, if you have a local shop it doesn't have to be a dusty bottle shop. It could be, it could be Safeway, you'd be surprised at the person work. It works in the wine section, ask for recommendations, you know, just be like, Hey, which, which wine should I try? What do you like? And what you'll find is, and then this is the other thing is when you drink wine, pay attention, like just, just, it doesn't have to be like, you don't have to think, write down pasting notes or blue, you know, like hand hand, like, like Fendy handbag and, and blueberries cassette, like, just think like, oh, is it sweet?


Like, do I like it? Like, what is it a about it, but like, but pay attention and then associate that with what's on the label. So next time you can, oh, I liked wine when it was from Russian river valley. And, and, and if you never pay attention, you're never gonna get better at it. And yeah. And then, then also, if you can find, I mean, you know, shameless blood companies like wine spot, which bring a different wine every day, we have extremely thorough tasting notes and we vet every single wine that we sell. So on Wednesdays, we have a tasting panel and, you know, there's like now there's six of us and we actually all have very different pallets and we pretty much all have to agree that this is a good wine or we don't sell it. So that's a good opportunity for you to like, try different wines that you might not have otherwise tried. See what you think about it. And then again, you can learn from there as long as you're paying attention to what you you had in the passing. Like


Interesting. I never knew, I never heard about the, how specific you know, the, the label is. I think that's the interesting thing. It makes perfect sense, but I had never even heard of that. So I, I, that's why I was taking notes. I wasn't trying to be rude, but I was taking notes like, man, this is, this is good stuff here. Cause again, I'm not, I honestly, I'm not a huge wine fan, but I like to have a glass of wine now and again, but I just have no clue, you know, how to choose it. So interesting. Very interesting.


Yeah. I mean, start with the basics that she knew, know like, you know, everyone knows Cabernet and Chardonnay, you know, what is it about people that I like Chardonnay? Oh, it's his kind of buttery. Okay. Well that, there's a reason for that. I went through mal fermentation. It actually has the same as, and it makes it creamy. Oh, I don't like that. Okay. You don't want wines to have mal fermentation. Like there's great. Like super simple, really approachable books from grape to glass is a really popular one.

And you know, what you find is, is that, and this is why people get into wine is it's actually really interesting, you know, and as, as soon as you start drinking it and just gonna gain a little bit of knowledge, you tend to wanna learn more and more and more, you know, so that's that's kind of, it's, it's, there's a lot of people which find wine even later in life and all of a sudden fall in love with it and start getting much more and no matter how, like what level you're at, if you're still just, you know, getting wine from your goats, each store, or, you know, if you're buying rare collectible wines, you know, from France, there's still another level beyond that.


It's, you know, and that, that kind of keeps it interesting, no matter, no matter how much you drinking you, but <laugh> so,


So I gotta ask this question. What's the, what's the primary difference between a $50 bottle wine and a $500 bottle


Of wine? Yeah, it is the cost. So, I mean, especially, that's why I said the $15 number I would say up to. Hmm. Except for Napa, like, let's take Napa Cabernet. So it really actually is a function of the price of grapes. Believe it or not. You can buy a ton of central valley, which is kind in Californias. Like the central valley is a huge central part of California's massive, there's millions and millions of acreages. Shouldn't say millions, millions of cases are produced from central valley grapes. You can buy grape like 300 bucks. Epic caber last year is like $15,000 a ton. So, so that, that alone right there is going to, and, and same, I mean, same with Sonoma. It's not quite as, as honorable as that, but you know, it is the cost of grapes does translate into the price per bottle.


And that does come back to quality. And there's also like kind of chicken or the egg thing where it's like, okay, well, certain regions command more, more price point, a higher price point on the shelf. People are willing to pay more for it. Therefore that area is getting more money, you know, that they can invest in quality of production. So, you know, the viticulture is better. The wine making is better. They can hire better winemaker, they can use more sophisticated equipment. So you kind of get a flywheel effect for particular wine producing regions. So there's some regions that are up and coming like in California, I'll throw out you know, like Lodi and Mendocino. You know, now the quality is coming up. It's not necessarily that the areas are getting any better in terms of their suitability climate wise. Although some people would say that it's really just like, people are kind of like look seeing the value there, and then money's starting to flood to those areas. And then the quality is coming up like Oregon, for example, even the Eastern seaboard now like Virginia there's some great wines being made.


Good stuff. Good stuff. Well, I, I gotta tell you Agent Cru, I learned a ton super super good. I, I really, really appreciate you coming on we're out of time, but I really appreciate you coming on. Go out to That's Tell 'em Agent Cru sent you. Oh, I appreciate you coming on the show.


We'll see you over. Thanks so much for having me, man. This has been great.


Yeah, absolutely. Well guys, thanks for listening as always have a great week and don't forget cash flow is king.


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