Company name: Roscioli Wine Club
Revenue: 85K/ Month
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Ciao from Rome, I’m Lindsay Gabbard and alongside my partner Alessandro Pepe we created the Roscioli Wine Club. The wine club was created to be an extension of our Wine Tasting Dinner in Rome, so that our clients could enjoy a similar experience back home with artisan Italian wines, pairing ideas, and Italian culture.
Currently, on top of our restaurant earnings, we are grossing about 85,000 euros per month and continuing to grow. This has given us immense freedom and flexibility, especially during Covid, as another means to keep earning even with restaurant closures.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since the last time we were interviewed here, much has changed – Covid changed everything. For the first time, we had time. Typically running Rimessa Roscioli, a fully booked restaurant, meant that we had little time for digital work, but we had pulled most of our dining room team into working on customer care and digital work. They all became much savvier in that regard and are now able to multi-task even more than before.
One of our sommeliers with her volcanic spirit was able to visit 300 wineries and take a video of each winemaker, which allowed us to get far ahead for future material, as all our wines in our shipments have a video of the winemaker included as well. This also meant that we finally were able to realize a dream we had for 2 years of getting QR codes and private labels onto our bottles so that our members could have easy access to more information about their wines.
We also vamped up the information our members will get by scanning the QR code. Now included is the winemaker video, pairing suggestions, drinking window, the backstory, and info on the grape and region as well as a local regional recipe to pair the wine with.
Everyone on our team grew. Armando, a food runner, has edited hundreds of videos and has become our Fellini. Alessandro was able to focus more on big projects like a documentary for Netflix or similar channels. Lindsay was able to focus more on marketing, content creation, and PR.
What we’ve learned in terms of which outlets work for wine? First, social media is merely a window into our business but does not work to ‘sell’ wine. We notice that most people in the wine industry complain that social media doesn’t work well for them. We’ve learned that relationships and the right connections are everything – following more of Seth Godin’s tribe ideas.
Also, after years of doing an immense amount of work with little results, we finally experienced the concept of how the Great Wall of China was built – stone by stone, and over years (fortunately less than 20 of them). We had been taking videos for years and one day, our youtube channel started to see huge growth (keep in mind wine is a niche product). And our success there was noticed organically by Intravino who wrote an article explaining the insanity of what we are creating in terms of the largest online video collection of winemakers.
We also were mentioned in Food & Wine for the new way people are buying wine, and also had an article written on Forbes about our wine club when Liza Zimmerman noticed that what we were creating was an ideal fit for the US market to have a little slice of Rome back home.
Creating content to show off Italian culture has always been our main focus, not marketing. We decided we’ll create an insane amount of content, market that if anything, and whoever believes in what we are doing will follow us.
We’re also focusing on connecting more with Italian cultural clubs in the US, since we know that many of them with Italian heritage will appreciate having a video for each wine, in potentially their mother tongue (and English subtitles), to bring a bit of nostalgia into their world abroad.
To sum up our success, it’s been from being Tribe-focused.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Trust your gut. We knew that Tribes were the way to go. Wine, not culture, can be marketed the same way a t-shirt or hat online can be marketed. And the biggest lesson is that newsletters are still one of our most valuable resources which means that collecting emails to stay in touch with our guests is vital.
Do what you believe in, and don’t do it for money.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We’re super excited about the next 5 years. We don’t just focus on one element of our business but try to have lots of webs. We’ve already built a huge network of over 500 wineries that support us. We hope to do pop-up events and collaborations with restaurants and clubs in NYC this Fall and possibly open there in the future. Our goal is to eventually have storage in the USA making logistics more efficient and flexible for shipping to our members. We’d also like to focus on making documentaries on wine and travel (possibly even with a women’s focus since most of our sommeliers are women, and we love to support women in wine).
Our goal isn’t money, it’s freedom from having to physically be working at our restaurant, which will allow us to travel for work and pleasure and make work a pleasure. Pleasure is seemingly what we’re all after at the end of it.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
We both read a lot but not necessarily books on business. As mentioned above, Tribes by Seth Godin has been our Holy Grail.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Do what you believe in, and don’t do it for money. It took us 4 years of producing videos that no one was watching and then suddenly ‘poof’! Our view count and subscribers started soaring. But we felt like we were failing the entire way. We believe in culture and sharing, so when we’re doing ‘work’ around those things, it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ but more of a mission.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Not for our wine club, but of course, every restaurant is having staffing issues arising from the pandemic, and no one wants to work. We need to clone ourselves in the restaurant so that we can have more free time to do other more important tasks or find someone with great English, who knows wine but isn’t necessarily the typical sommelier with lots of technical information, who wants to live in the best city in the world – Rome, and work at the best wine bar in the world – Rimessa Roscioli.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Rimessa Roscioli
- YouTube (our EN channel)
- YouTube (our main channel – IT )
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!