Editor’s Note: Orange Glou has been named to The Story Exchange’s list of 12 Brilliant Business Ideas.
Cheers to Doreen Winkler of Orange Glou, which bills itself as the world’s first orange wine store. Her wine wares are made “from white grapes that macerate on the skins,” a thousands-of-years-old Georgian process that today is undertaken by about 1,000 makers worldwide. All of the wines in her store come in varying shades of warm, brilliant orange, and are made by wineries that avoid the use of chemicals in their farming. This New York City venture — featured in The New York Times, among numerous other outlets — sells an eco-conscious, conversation-sparking bring-along that we think would be perfect for any outdoor soiree.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
I just couldn’t not do it. I have been obsessed with orange wines for years. I added them to restaurant wine lists any time I could and I encouraged all of my industry friends and personal friends to try them every chance they got. That led to a lot of feedback from everyone I knew that they were really excited to taste more orange wine, but it was very hard to find. It really felt like my calling to bring more of these wines to a broader audience, so I started my subscription service. Once I saw the success of the subscriptions, I knew I had to open a brick-and-mortar store. The demand has been truly inspiring.
How do you define success?
When you have a dream and a vision, every bit of it that you accomplish feels like success. Finding like-minded collaborators for some of my early orange wine events and then selling them out was really a dream. The next true success was making a living with my business and then eventually being able to hire other people. Three years ago all of this was just a dream, so where I am today is a true success.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
Industry recognition of my business. I have been featured twice in The New York Times, was voted among Wine Enthusiast’s Top 50 Wine Stores of 2021, and have had a collection of other amazing press features. On the flip side, some really exciting niche wine producers across Europe have told me how much it means to them to be featured under our brand. They are honored and excited that someone is shining a big light on orange wines, and I am thrilled that I can do this for them.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Getting the license to open my store was a tremendous challenge. I applied in the early months of the pandemic and the whole effort was riddled with delays and logistical problems. I also had a lot of competition from other natural wine stores in the neighborhood so it was an uphill battle to convince the State Liquor Authority that my store would be a welcome addition. The solution was to educate the SLA about orange wine demand and also demonstrate my passion and commitment to meet that demand. They agreed to give me a chance and today I have the only exclusively orange wine store in the world!
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
I am constantly challenged to find balance between my business responsibilities and my personal life, as well as balance in doing it all myself and delegating. I’ve realized that I can’t be everywhere at once no matter how much I try, so I’ve stepped back from some activities — like working in my store — to shift my energy to marketing and other efforts to grow the business.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Obviously do your research, talk to people that did something similar. But really you will make mistakes. Rip off the Band-Aid and just start. Don’t wait till it’s perfect or you are ready, etc. And know you will lose friends.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
A cuddle with my 55-pound Chow makes everything better always.
Who is your most important role model?
I don’t have one. ◼