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5th generation family business.

Aly Wente is the VP of Marketing and Customer Experience at Wente Vineyards. Wente is the country’s longest, continuously operated family-owned winery; Aly is the fifth generation of the Wente family to lead the business.

People really liked feeling like they understood our family connection… and that helped people connect to the brand.

Aly WenteVP, Marketing and Customer Experience Wente Vineyards


Katie Hankinson (00:01):

Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson and I’m Mickey cloud. Welcome to Building While flying a Sasha Group podcast, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever changing skies. Well, welcome to Building While Flying. My guest this week is Aly Wente, VP of marketing and customer experience at Wente vineyards. Wente vineyards is a country’s longest continuously operated family owned winery founded in 1883, and Aly represents the fifth generation of the Wente family to lead the business. And she’s responsible for overseeing marketing and customer experience teams for the Wente family estates, full portfolio of brands. Welcome to the show, Aly.

Aly Wente (00:48):

Thank you for having me and thank you for the introduction.

Katie Hankinson (00:52):

I know I, I, I was, we obviously came across you guys when we did some work with you a year, the year ago and the thick of the pandemic, but, um, it was, it’s been so lovely digging into that storied history of the wentebrand.

Aly Wente (01:05):

Yeah. When you are around for 138 years, there’s a lot of story to go around. That’s for sure. So I always say that’s my job. It’s trying to crack the net on how to continue to tell the story, um, for the future.

Katie Hankinson (01:18):

I love that. Well, before we go into the bigger went story, um, let’s have a bit of your background. Do you wanna just talk a bit about, um, your, your, yourself, your background, how you came to be in the role that you are today and also what drives your success in or in your day to day at Wendy?

Aly Wente (01:36):

Yeah, yeah, of course. Um, so I, uh, went to college, uh, to actually be a bra broadcast news reporter. Um, I wanted to be, you know, like a top anchor somewhere, um, and had this, uh, pretty grueling internship, um, out in Oakland. And I was in the news van every day and found out maybe this isn’t exactly what I wanna be doing. Um, but I think really great foundational skills and, you know, writing creativity, storytelling, um, kind of, you know, finding the why. Um, and so that really inspired me to go into marketing. I first did some marketing, um, for actually in, not in wine, believe it or not. Um, I think from a very young age, you know, I grew up in a small town and went, was kind of a big company and I was very independent and, um, really didn’t want anyone to decide my life for me.

Aly Wente (02:35):

Um, so not that anyone would, or not that my family ever tried to force me to work for the family. It just sort of felt like that’s what everyone did. And I just didn’t want that decision to be made you <affirmative> early. So I’d say I, you know, went to school for broadcast to try to say it. That’s not, I’m not gonna work for the family. And then I went into, uh, private land development actually. Um, so again, not in line. And then I think, you know, in my mid twenties, I said, wait, why am I dragging my feet against wine? <laugh> you know, what

Katie Hankinson (03:04):

The rest of the world is running towards it?

Aly Wente (03:07):

Yes. I know. I’m like, what better industry? Because I love wine as a person. And I always have been, I think wine runs in my blood. We like to say that here <laugh>. Um, but yeah, so, so, um, actually ended up working for, um, one of the largest wine suppliers in the world, constellation brands. We know them well <laugh> yes, yes. And then we, uh, I worked across, um, a number of their, uh, fine wine portfolio brands, like, you know, Robert Mondavi winery in the Napa valley, um, champagne Palmer from of champagne, uh, Mount Vita winery in Napa RiNo estates. I managed some of their like higher end, um, estate business, um, out of Italy. So, um, was very fortunate to work across just some really, uh, storied brands with incredible histories, incredible sense of place, really strong characters behind the brand. And I think, think that really primed me well to, um, have a lot of knowledge and a lot of excitement for, you know, beginning to tell my family story. So after about four and a half years at constellation, um, it was, I was being courted by my family, um, and by a mentor of mine, Amy hoops, and she kind of convinced me to come back to the family. And so now been here for a few years, um, and it has, you know, been a, a wild ride, came back a minute, senior brand manager two years ago. And now I, as you mentioned, you know, I’m, I’m running marketing and, uh, overseeing hospitality. So it really has been pretty crazy, a lot of change,

Katie Hankinson (04:40):

Quite the, and like a definite a, a certain amount of new challenge and new remit that has fallen on your shoulders, even in like this last 12, 15 months of crazy pandemic life that we’ve been living.

Aly Wente (04:53):

Absolutely. And I’d say the majority of the change in my career ha happened actually, all of it really has happened through the pandemic. Um, so really interesting time to take on a lot more, um, to manage a lot more people in different environments and, you know, different challenges they’re facing, whether it be at work or at home. Um, we all have so much on our plates, um, personally and professionally right now. So yeah, it’s been really interesting, uh, experience for me. And I think, you know, you asked me what drives my success. Um, I mean, I think not to be too corny here, but I think my just, I just feel this immense sense of pride, um, and excitement. Like I keep saying that when to, is the oldest startup in the nation, like we are just getting started, it feels like we’re hardly scratching the surface. And so I think that excitement of knowing that there’s just so much more we can do, there’s so much more we can build for my family’s company. Like that keeps me excited. And then of course the people I do it with. Yeah. You know, I love them, um, working closely with all of them is what gets me excited every day. So yeah, I’d say I’m just very blessed.

Katie Hankinson (06:09):

That’s wonderful. Well, I, you spoke a little bit to your experience of, um, working with story brands and brands with a real sense of place. And I think very much that is the case with, um, went vineyards and the various wines within your portfolio. Um, before we talk about kind of where the brand has, has gone in the last short 12 months, can you talk a little bit about that backdrop, the kind of the, that sits at the, the history, what, what sits at the core of the brand that has carried through, even as it behaves as this kind of hundred 30 year old startup?

Aly Wente (06:46):

Yeah. You know, um, I think that what really sits at the core that has helped that’s made us continue for 138 years really is the continuity of vision from generation to generation within the family, you know, coming from constellation, um, sometimes at larger companies, you know, the, the CEO CMO, whatever those doors can be quite rotating. Um, but here, you know, we, I would say each generation has really thought about the next and every decision that they make, um, and really how we wanna continue the brand. Yeah. You know, I think it’s everything from what we’re doing in the vineyard. You know, we early on called my great-grandfather called the soil, his insurance policy, and this is great grandfather. This is quite before, you know, sustainability buzzword, but he recognized early on that if you’re not doing right by the earth, especially in our business, there’s no chance you’ll have a viable business to pass on to the next generation, to, you know, really trying to think about different ways that we can engage and host and have people experience the brand.

Aly Wente (07:56):

Um, that, you know, I think the generation before me really did with opening a golf course and starting a restaurant and having, um, concerts and really bringing wine to life, um, in a lifestyle environment. Um, and so we’ve all kind of said, okay, so what did the generation do before me? And now, how am I gonna add to it? So it’s not like, how am I gonna totally turn directions because I don’t agree with it and something new. It’s like, no, how am I gonna build upon their success love? And so that’s really how we think about the business.

Katie Hankinson (08:25):

That’s something so magical about yeah. The kind of cyclical nature of farming and husbandry of the earth and the vines, but also the way that you’re thinking about that from a generational perspective. It’s lovely. So you talked a little bit about kind of what NT is today. So it sounds like, um, and I, we know this, that more than purely the vineyards and the wines themselves, you also have built out what you’ve described as now as this lifestyle brand. You’ve got the restaurants, you’ve got weddings events, the golf course, um, much more of a hospitality feel mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, and I think beyond that, when we first began speaking with you this time last year, a bit like bit earlier, um, it was really just at the, at the moment that COVID hit. And I would love for you to just share a little bit about what that meant for the, you know, at the point where you were building yourself out to be this hospitality lifestyle brand. And yet at this time where hospitality really had the kind of the heart ripped out of it, because it was simply not possible to do, to convene in this way. What did that mean for the brand? What, what were your pivots and how did you operate around that?

Aly Wente (09:33):

Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you what not fun year <laugh> for hospitality. It was a good year on the flip side, because I think a lot of consumers, uh, returned to tried and true brand mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, they didn’t take as much risk, you know, they wanted to get in the grocery store and out as fast as possible. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so where they maybe spent more time in the wine out kind of looking at other options or cool packaging or whatnot, you know, they said, oh, you know, went tea. I know that brand had it before it’s good. Or my mom drinks that all the time, it’s gotta be good, or, you know, I’ve had that at a party, grab it and go. Um, so from a retail perspective, we did very well, thankfully that was able to kind of, you know, lift and carry our hospitality team with us through the end of the year and still have a successful year, which was, um, incredible and unexpected. But, you know, from hospitality, I think the ways that we pivoted and tried to think of, okay, so what can we do? It was, if we can’t have them at our property, how can we bring our wines to them? How can we create the wine experience and their home <affirmative>. And we did this through, you know, exciting and new first to the wine industry, really, uh, innovation through technology. We launched a Google home, an Amazon Alexa virtual tasting experience.

Katie Hankinson (10:50):

Remember that? Well

Aly Wente (10:51):

<laugh>, so it was so fun. Um, and people, and you still can, so to anybody listening, you can still ask your, uh, you know, Alexa to do, to take you to a virtual wine tasting and she’ll pull up ONET vineyards, wine tasting. Um, so we did a lot of that and, you know, we promoted it in retail. So people knew when they went to buy their bottles, that they could then have this experience at home, if they wanted to get the three wines that we, you know, were going to speak to. And the experience to, you know, of course doing a lot of virtual tasting events for our club members and, you know, really using zoom. And I think actually that helped us connect to people, um, in a deeper way, because it felt like a more intimate gathering, um, where you could really get to know the people behind the wine. Yeah. The winemaker

Katie Hankinson (11:35):

You were actually doing, you were the face of that, right. With the sister, wasn’t it, we’re on the kinda regular. So we,

Aly Wente (11:40):

We also did that, which I like to say was more of my, um, side gig as a standup comedian or something, um, with all the time we have no, we, so yeah, my sister and I also stood up a, it started the Wednesday of like the official shutdown in March. I know March 17th or 11th or whatever it was. Um, we started that Wednesday and we did it every single Wednesday until harvest. So I can’t remember how many we did, but quite a bunch. We did everything, you know, from wine and food pairings, from local restaurants, we would order take out from them to support them them and do that to, um, you know, Nikki, my sister would bake a cake and we’d parrot with Merlo and you’d watch her bake it. And really, I think we just were sort of silly with each other mm-hmm <affirmative> so that I think was the biggest takeaway. People really liked feeling like they understood our family connection and sibling, you know, bond, um, and that helped people really connect it to the brand. So it was really interesting to learn what people enjoyed last year, because it gave us so much opportunity to learn more. I

Katie Hankinson (12:44):

Think that’s so marvelous. We’ve had so many ways in which this whole time of advers cause people to experiment a great deal more. And I think it’s just so nice to hear like that this opportunity to kind of show a bit more of the personal side of the brand gave you all these learnings and these new potential ways to connect with your customer and your consumer. Yeah.

Aly Wente (13:04):

Pretty cool. Absolutely. Yeah. It was the silver lining. I like to say that that a lot of, um, creativity came out of last year for better or for worse, but I think it was, it was the silver lining. I think everybody tested something new, not just us, you know, so that’s fantastic, exciting times for the wine industry.

Katie Hankinson (13:21):

So you, you saw a bit of a return to went from people who were kind of rediscovering old favorites. You also juice the e-comm side of the business, I think, which kind of gave you an, a nice counterpoint to the, the retail LP. And it also began a bit more experimentation with new communications channels. Are there things coming out? Not that we have fully come out yet, but as, as you project the exiting from the, the height of the pandemic, are there things that you have learned and that you will continue to bake to how you think about the brand and growing it moving forward would

Aly Wente (13:56):

Again, you know, I think absolutely. Um, we definitely want to keep that, that kind of casual, like you’re all sitting together at the family table kind of feeling whether that’s coming through in our blog post or that’s in our email or that’s in our, you know, Nikki and I doing our standup comedy gig again on, on social. But I think like those are things we learn that consumers really like, and we can’t walk away from it because that’s leav a huge, uh, it’s creating a disconnect with them now because they’ve become used to it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, yeah, we’ll absolutely continue those, you know, I’m not sure how much time and energy we’ll spend in blowing out the Amazon Alexa experience, I think is the fun thing for people to do. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, but I think too, you know, uh, it, it, what it, what it showed us is that people are looking for new experiences. So now we just need to think of what’s

Katie Hankinson (14:48):

Next. Absolutely. And I think each time you try out, like, almost that kind of UX of how to explain the experience of birth tasting on the virtual side, I think it gives you learnings about how you might apply that when you come back into the tasting room, you know, what, where, where are the kind of parallel points to

Aly Wente (15:05):


Katie Hankinson (15:06):

So I’m gonna take a little, um, sidestep in, in terms of, um, what, what I want to talk about next, and I want to dig a bit more into the, the family, the generational side of the business. Um, you know, it’s pretty impressive and I, it must be rare to be a, a five generation deep family brand or family company as a member and a kind of a big voice of that fifth generation. How do you, you know, find and maintain your voice when you probably still have some fairly strong opinions coming from the, the, the years that were before <laugh>

Aly Wente (15:45):

Yeah. Family businesses are interesting aren’t they <laugh>, you know, um, I think really what our family has that’s really helps us is like a foundational level of respect for each and every individual and what they’ve done before us. Um, you know, I think I have an incredible amount of respect for my dad and my uncle, my aunt, who really came before us. And actually my aunt is somewhat of a mentor to me. She was more of the sales and marketing and then our CEO for 13 years. And so I call her regularly for advice. I call my dad regularly for advice. So, um, we very much look to them for advice. And then I’d say that they’re excited to see what we’re gonna do. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so they, you know, of course they have their opinions, um, but they aren’t STR you know, their opinions, aren’t strong enough to get in the way of something that we all feel passionate about.

Aly Wente (16:35):

Um, and I think it’s, you know, that’s, that’s kind of what the generations, they went through the same challenge with the generation before them. So, you know, it’s kind of like put yourself in your shoes. You’ve been here before, are you gonna let us move forward with this? Or no, you know, so I think that’s helpful. And then in my generation, we all actually have somewhat of different interests, which is pretty incredible. So there’s six of us in the fifth generation, five of us work for the business. The sixth will probably come, he is younger and he is working. Um, well, he is not super young, but he’s younger than all of us. And he is working, um, for Southern wines and spirits in Dallas. So I think it’s only a matter of time, but, you know, everybody else, like we have a winemaker within us, a viticulture manager, supply chain, marketing sales. So we’re, um, again, all respect each other for the value and insights that we bring to the table because we don’t represent the same right functions. Right. Um, and so that just, you know, the head on head competition isn’t, and that alleviates a lot of pressure. Did that happen?

Katie Hankinson (17:37):

I mean, it’s so hard to, would that happen in like a super strategic family way or just completely organically. That’s amazing,

Aly Wente (17:43):

Totally organically, which is incredible. And somewhat, you, you know, you could be like, how did that happen that way? Um, but yeah, it’s really awesome. That’s

Katie Hankinson (17:52):

Fantastic. So, gosh, and so I, I can imagine that got the, the round, the dinner table discussions, it must be quite hard to separate, uh, just regular life chat and went business chat <laugh>

Aly Wente (18:06):

Yes. You, you certainly hit the nail on the, um, which I am probably the most passionate about trying to create a separation in my family, because I think, you know, the generations before us had to take on the business at a very early time, like in their early twenties, um, because my grandfather had passed away rather suddenly. And so they kind of had to take on the business and it was their, it was truly all that they did and they slaved and they worked and they worked really hard to get to where they are. Um, and for us, of course, we’re working really, really hard. Um, but it’s a little bit different cause we’ve had their help and there’s been transition and they’re still, they’re still involved even though none of them have, you know, active daily roles. Um, and so, but I, I am one of those people that believes that you really have to have a separation so that you really can, um, be able to decompress, um, and you know, feel personally fulfilled in your personal life and professionally fulfilled in your professional life. And those two things will feed on each other to create just like your island of happiness. Um, so I try very hard to get everyone to turn off business chat. And even within my own family, you know, my sisters will come over to my parents’ house. We’re all together. And I say, they’ll start talking business just naturally. And I’ll say, this is it. This is your last minute of business.

Katie Hankinson (19:28):

Yeah. You need like the, kind of the, the alarm word, the code word that says, okay, one more minute left of wine chat. Right. Right. And then we, then we’ve gotta go back to talking about politics and COVID, <laugh>

Aly Wente (19:41):

Other things I like to stay away from my family.

Katie Hankinson (19:44):

<laugh> I think the other interesting thing, um, talking about the generational is the absolute kind of corollary. I always get that word wrong is you’re speaking to a new generation of wine drinker each time. And I’m, I, I mean, I’m fairly, we’ve talked a lot about the, the trends that are really entering wine enjoyment and drinking. I’d be curious to know, like, when you, you are thinking about like today’s consumer, um, the kind of new wave of, of wine appreciators and wine lovers, like what are you seeing? What, how is that coloring? How you think about the brand and how you think about the brand experience.

Aly Wente (20:25):

Yeah, no, that’s a great question. So actually what we’re seeing right now, um, in our, in all of the data that we’re getting, um, is actually that, you know, millennials are not embracing wine the same way that future gen generations, before them

Katie Hankinson (20:41):

Had crazy people, crazy people <laugh>

Aly Wente (20:43):

I know they are crazy. I’m like, how do you live now? <laugh> um, and, you know, I think it’s because the craft cocktails and just the, the maker readiness of it and the fact that people can experiment and do it at home, um, is so big. And then of course you have seltzers and like the ready to drink beverages and the spritzes and everything else. So there’s definitely more options. Um, but then, you know what, my, my true belief is that in the wine industry, we like to focus a lot on our terroir and the, the climate and you know, how long it was aged and what’s the pH, you know, all these things that can intimidate people. Mm. Um, and make someone feel like an outsider. So if they don’t underst stand how wine is made, will they enjoy it? Are they a fraud for drinking it?

Aly Wente (21:32):

Right. You know, so, and I think that’s just the fallback in this industry, no matter your price point sometimes. And of course, there’s the, you know, the people at certain price points who really wanna know those things, cuz they’re kind of wine geeks and they wanna get into it. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. But that the price point of, you know, our Wenty angels in gravel did all of our brands. They’re really sort of priced what I like to call. It’s like your everyday luxury. You could have it every day if you want to. Um, and it really is more about lifestyle at that point, right? Like you’re drinking at your table, you’re opening it in your backyard, you’re bringing it to your friend’s house. You know, you’re ordering it at a restaurant. And so I truly believe that a lot of us in the wine industry not just went tea. We need to get more people in on this boat, bring people together to really start showing the younger consumers, how wine can be a part of their fun lifestyle and forget the technical details because that’s not what they care about. They want something that they’re gonna and enjoy that they’re gonna see fits into their lifestyle. And that they’re gonna have a fun time with. So what

Katie Hankinson (22:35):

Does that mean in terms of how you’re experimenting with marketing? Cause I think in terms of a building while flying moment, you know, this really is almost kind of figuring out how to adapt to this audience whilst maintaining this, this very kind long term story legacy brand. How, how, what are you experimenting with and what what’s in your, what’s in the roadmap for you?

Aly Wente (22:56):

Yeah. You know, so I always like to compare it and this is how I try to inspire the, the marketing teams is, you know, think about the really old whiskey brands or the really old beer brands. I have these storied heritage and legacy. Okay. When you see their commercial on TV, what are they talking about? Mm-hmm <affirmative>, it’s not their storied history or how it was made or where it comes from. So not to say I’m encouraging the team to completely throw out our, our history I think is, will always be so important. But I think really what we’re doing is, you know, we’re, we’re trying to of focus on, well, like what is the need of the consumer? What do they want everything from? You know, what we’ve worked on together, um, from our like make time campaign, because we really truly believe that, um, when you’re opening a bottle of wine and you’re sharing it with someone you’re normally making time for something that is really creating a special memory that you’ll probably remember, you’re making time for you and connection and just being with people mm-hmm <affirmative> um, to, you know, we’re, we are trying to also talk a little bit more about what we’re doing better for the, for the, for our planet

Katie Hankinson (24:03):


Aly Wente (24:04):

Huge. Yes. Um, and we’re certified sustainable in our vineyard and our wineries. So we’re talking a lot more and educating consumers more about that. So trying to take our stance there. Um, and also, you know, uh, we talk a lot about how we support women leadership. Um, so what consumers care about is yes, of course, how it fits into their wonderful lifestyle. But then I think there’s some causes and consumers no longer really care just about what your brand tastes like or what it looks like. They also wanna know what you stand for mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so we’re trying to do a better job of showing them how it will fit into their life, but then also what we stand for and what we really care about and what we’re gonna get behind as a company.

Katie Hankinson (24:43):

And that, and that you have, you know, got the, the, the test of time for some of those values. It’s not lip service, but it’s actually something that’s really been ingrained in how you’ve operated for, for a number of years. I think that sustainability story especially is a really powerful one and so much that the viticulture and farming communities have to kind of give back to all these other categories who don’t, who don’t talk about. <affirmative> understanding the earth in quite such a right. Truly like next to it way really interesting. So much better for, for decision making. For sure. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Allie, for joining me today, it’s been great to hear a bit more about what your role has blossomed into and also the plans or Wenty and, uh, whether whether to do with pandemic pivots or the plans you have a foot, um, you have basically maybe want a large glass of wine, just talking about this and looking at the Liverpool value of the background. So I will go off and do that right now, but, uh, in the meantime, thank you so much for joining us.

Aly Wente (25:42):

Well, thank you so much for having me on here. Katie, it’s been a pleasure to work with you and to talk with you today and I hope your glasses of Wenty wine.

Katie Hankinson (25:50):

Oh yes. <laugh>. Well, now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land, but before we do Mickey and I caught up on some of the themes and topics that stuck

Mickey Cloud (26:03):

Out to us, yes, we liken this to the post-game show where we break down the key lessons we all can benefit from, including us here at the Saha group here is the Saha sidebar, Katie, what a great conversation with Allie. I’m sure it was great to catch up with, uh, with her.

Katie Hankinson (26:20):

Yeah, it was great to hear how the win team has been doing the last few months. Uh, they definitely did a lot of innovating and pivoting during the pandemic and it sounds like it paid off.

Mickey Cloud (26:33):

Yeah, for sure. I think, uh, you know, for, for me, this conversation struck home cuz the, the, the, the fact that she’s part of the fifth generation of this business, um, was, was so awesome. Also just cuz on a really personal note, like wine to me is something that was introduced in my life through my generations. Right? So like my grandmother was a very specific pina Grio, white wine drinker who passed that down to my mom. And so like I just, I honestly like didn’t know there was white wine outside of peanut Grio, you know, for the longest time I thought that’s all there was just

Katie Hankinson (27:05):

Because of, I was in solu camp, I think, same thing, but

Mickey Cloud (27:10):

Solu. Um, so that very personal connection of just like, you know, the, uh, the fact that I learned about wine through, you know, the maternal, uh, generations on my side and just also, you know, her talking about how her great and father kind of said, you know, the soil is our insurance policy and, and this idea of like, you know, they’ve been talking about sustainability and her family for a long time, not just because of like the macro, it’s good that we have one earth and we need to take care of her kind of thing. But because it’s literally that thinking about the business and the brand being sustainable for the next generation in their family.

Katie Hankinson (27:48):

Yeah. I thought how incredible to be five generations deep in a, in a company like this, what a wonderful story and what a wonderful kind of connective thread of the family. I totally agree. Like the family and generational thread that went through this whole conversation was super interesting. And the other side of it, in addition to kind of, you know, the handing down of, of this kind of precious co company from generation to generation is also just how, how the generations have, you know, they are a reflection of their audience. So it’s just interesting to hear Ali speak to what today’s wine drinker and the wine drinking landscape looks like in comparison to the generations that have gone before her.

Mickey Cloud (28:32):

Yeah. A hundred percent. And that’s why, you know, during the pandemic, when they, you know, they, when, when they immediately just kind of on Wednesday, she got together with her sister and started creating, you know, a, a, a little, you know, Wednesday, uh, show, you know, for lack of a better word where they, every Wednesday they would, um, just, you know, PA do pairings, they ordered from local restaurants, like bake the cake, like all that kinda stuff. And it, and it, it showed, I think the, the human side of, of the, and it’s obviously a family business, they kind of showed that. And like the fact that you caught out, like, it was just great that people that we could be silly with one another and they could kind of see that sister connection, that sister bond and, and being silly is not something you is not, is not a word you think about when, when you think of the wine industry. Right.

Katie Hankinson (29:20):

<laugh> so this kind of rarefied, like historic space that you kind of yeah. All was saying, you think about the TIR and you think about all of the, the, the what’s on the nose and the palette. You don’t necessarily think about goofing around and creating community, but that’s what matters to today’s consumer. That’s what helped them create much needed contact. And also were a bit of a lifeline to some of those people, like during the early days of pandemic, they moved really fast. And I’d say, that’s the other thing to your point about that, that like experiment of beginning, that show is they didn’t overthink it. They got out there and they created a new way to connect with their community. And, and they learned a lot along the way, which I’m sure they’ll be feeding back into the brand in terms of how to resonate with what today’s generation of wine drinkers are looking for from a brand. And

Mickey Cloud (30:14):

Today’s generation of just drinkers at a more broad perspective have, have come into like are, just have so many more options.

Katie Hankinson (30:22):

You’re, you’re not competing with prisoner. Merlo up the road. Are you, you’re, you’re competing with, uh,

Mickey Cloud (30:27):

Whitelaw Whitelaw and high noon and, and ready to drink cocktails and canned cocktails and all these different, you know,

Katie Hankinson (30:35):

Shelters and non out, I mean, you know, a hundred percent also growing. Yeah. So, so a whole different competitive, and, and I think the Wenty team I’m definitely Ali are, are very aware of not resting on laurels and right. Continuing to innovate as a brand.

Mickey Cloud (30:50):

And then the last thing I thought was just so cool was just the fact that like this generation, that the current generation that is driving the, the company forward the business forward right now is so complimentary of each of one another, right? Like they’re not, they’re not all fighting over being, well, I wanna be in marketing. I wanna be in marketing, you know, it’s like, we’ve got a wine maker of a viticulture manager, a supply chain manager, marketing person, a sales it’s like, what, how did they all just like, when

Katie Hankinson (31:14):

Does that ever happen with a family brand that was mind blowing?

Mickey Cloud (31:18):

Like this is not succession, you know, battling it out for

Katie Hankinson (31:23):

The opposite of like, you know, back stabbing family members. They just have a like ready, made entire senior leadership team and all the skill sets without even having to look outside the family.

Mickey Cloud (31:35):

Right. Right. So that’s pretty cool.

Katie Hankinson (31:37):

So what’s our question today?

Mickey Cloud (31:40):

Well, maybe it’s maybe it’s how did for, for our, the listeners, if you’ve been introduced to wine, uh, you know, what was that introduction point for you as a, as a drinker?

Katie Hankinson (31:49):

Love it. Mine was definitely, I can barely remember it growing up with water down wine in <laugh> in, in the UK as a kid. Yeah. Thanks for joining us for building while flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Mickey Cloud (32:11):

If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune in to the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us, plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on building while flying across brands, businesses, marketing, and more original

Katie Hankinson (32:26):

Music by Fulton street, music groups.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

Wente Vineyards can fit into the lifestyles of the “new wave of wine drinkers.”

Aly Wente is the VP of Marketing and Customer Experience at Wente Vineyards. Wente is the country’s longest, continuously operated family-owned winery; Aly is the fifth generation of the Wente family to lead the business.

In this episode, Aly shares the history of Wente Vineyards, what drives their success, the respect the current team has for past generations, and how they build upon past generations’ work to keep the brand thriving. She talks about balancing the retail and hospitality sides of the business, and how they pivoted to keep the brand top of mind for customers during the pandemic. Lastly, Aly discusses the “new wave of wine drinkers” and how Wente Vineyards can still fit into their lifestyles.

Other in-flight topics:

  • The many lists Rachel’s been featured on
  • How Rachel transformed Gap
  • Why corporate America isn’t so bad
  • 2020 Consumer Demand
  • How to know where to spend your media dollars
  • Replenish, replenish, replenish
  • Nostalgic buying
  • Rachel’s hilarious meeting with Gary
  • Rachel’s podcast Brave Commerce
  • What’s on Rachel’s Pilot Checklist
  • Two Words: PIZZA TIME

Links | Connect with Aly

New York, NY
Chattanooga, TN
Los Angeles, CA