FoundersCard Member and Founder of PersonalWine.com, Alex Andrawes is a modern-day Al Capone gone legit. Each month he brokers millions of dollars of high-end and rare vintage wines while rubbing shoulders with our country’s most elite and eccentric wine enthusiasts. While he focuses on the brokerage business, the rest of the team drives the primary business of PersonalWine.com that Alex founded as a senior at University of Texas, and this year celebrates its 15th anniversary. PersonalWine.com is the #1 wine custom shop in the USA producing high quality personalized wines with engraved or custom labels using award winning wines from all over the world.
When did you realize that personalizing wine bottles would be a great business opportunity?
In College when I worked for a local investment banking firm. A couple of the Bankers asked me to buy wine, remove the labels and customize them for their client gifts. At the time I think I searched AOL or Yahoo Search for “personalized wine” and there was one Company doing it well but the wine sucked. Being a student of Economics, I honed in on the supply and demand and decided that competition was necessary in order to get a higher quality product.
How did you go from peeling labels off bottles in a bathtub to having an online emporium of wine, accessories, labels, etc.?
I realized my bathtub wasn’t big enough for the business when I got orders from 4 more banks and a few other companies. I also got a call from the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission. They told me I had to have a license to sell wine! They were pretty cool about it and allowed me to get a license… 9 months later.
What is your favorite winery?
Constant Winery on Diamond Mountain in Napa Valley. It’s the highest elevation and oldest mountain winery in Napa where you can see Napa, Sonoma and Alexander Valley from one spot. It’s got super hang time and the grapes get plenty of sun and a super blast of cold air from the coast at night. In the morning you’re surrounded by a sea of clouds like Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City in the movie Empire Strikes Back.
How do you curate the wine selection offered?
For PersonalWine.com, we buy finished wine and then ship samples to Sommeliers to taste and grade. All they know about the wine is the varietal, vintage and how much we intend on selling the wines for. They never know the producer. They give us a grade and if it gets an 8/10 or higher, we buy!
For EstateWineBrokers.com, we find well-curated cellars from private collectors. We inspect, taste and value the wines. We either send them to auction or we broker the wines to our own private client list.
What is the most unique bottle of wine in your collection?
A bottle of 1789 Madeira that was favorited by our Founding Fathers and consumed in celebration of the ratification of our Constitution. Subsequent favorites include the 1945 Chateau Lafite and 1989 La Mission Haut Brion. One is for the love of history and the other is for the love of wine.
We noticed a Walking Dead wine collection, any other upcoming specialty collections that we should be on the lookout for?
That was a special we did for Halloween in celebration of zombie enthusiasts. It was a killer set of wines. Yes, we have some really cool concepts coming out but they are top secret!
Aside from your company/job, what is your greatest success?
My greatest success is finding a woman who is patient enough to deal with me. I entertain a lot and with two kids at home, certainly she doesn’t get to decompress as much as I do. She’s amazing.
What is one book you would recommend to everyone?
Other than the book I am writing chronicling the crazy life of a wine broker, I suggest that you read Traction by Gino Wickman. Creating an Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) for my business has single handedly transformed our companies from an inefficient slow moving vehicle to a stealth-fighting machine. We’re growing rapidly and I believe this book played an important role in changing behavior within my Organization.
Who is someone we should be following on Twitter right now?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the man. He’s a stud, neurosurgeon and he really cares about keeping the public informed in a non-biased way. He’s such an interesting and smart guy. I’d love to share a glass of wine with him.
What is one app that all FoundersCard Members should be using?
It’s an app that is about to come out called Broomly. Its ‘uber-izing’ maid service and lawn care. Perfect for the new mom or dad who wants to eliminate chores and save money. It’s also a perfect way for young entrepreneurs to make some dough.
Give us your best plug/brag a little about as to what you’re working on now/next.
Right now, I’m working on a website called PersonalBrew.com where you’ll be able to customize beers from local craft breweries with your own brand. You’ll even be able to create your own craft brew line if you dare!
FoundersCard members are invited join the Personal Wine corporate membership club to receive 20% off custom wine orders. Register here.
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