Monday, November 23, 2009

Interview with Mark Adams from Amber Crest Winery

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Mark Adams owner of Amber Crest Winery located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Amber Crest was North Carolina’s first MicroWinery but recently made an innovative move in closing their tasting room and instead offering their own wines with your personalized wine labels. Mark also has fun with a webcast entitled Really Fun Wine Show.

Wine Chicks Guide - How did you get started in the wine business?
Mark Adams - I had made wine as a hobby for several years. One holiday season I gave wine with personalized labels to all of my family. Everyone seemed to really like the wine and especially the labels. In the next few days, I got requests to make wine with a custom business logo that could be used as staff gifts, wine for a wedding and requests for birthday and anniversary gifts. It wasn’t hard to see that personalized wine was fun to give and to get. I opened Amber Crest Winery about 3 months later.

WCG - The Amber Crest website states you are a custom winery and the first “virtual only” winery, can you explain what that means?
MA - Our wines are only available online at We make our wines specifically for personalization. The “virtual” part means that means you can sit at your computer in the comfort of your own home and design you labels using our custom label maker without ever setting foot in our winery. You then choose your variety. We then print and apply your labels and then ship your wine to you. It’s kind of like Build-A-Bear for adults…

WCG - Where does the name Amber Crest come from?
MA - From the high point on a family farm. Every fall the leaves in that area would turn gold first. So it became know as the “Amber Crest”

WCG - Any advice to people thinking about getting into winemaking, or the wine industry?
MA - I see the industry continuing to grow rapidly, so there is plenty of room for people to come into the industry. But in most states the biggest niches have already been filled. I think the opportunities will be in businesses that support the existing industry. For instance that could be in starting a company that specializes in wine tours, companies that specialize in marketing wineries or even companies that make barrels.

WCG - What wine trends to you see for the future?
MA - I think you will start to see an emphasis on local wines. You see many restaurants support and use local produce and other local products. But when it comes to wine, they still only offer wine from Europe or the west coast. I believe when people will start to discover how much fun it is to drink their local wines, this will change.

WCG - What were the deciding factors for closing down your tasting room and focusing on custom wine labels?
MA - We operated our winery as a traditional winery for over two years. But, by the end of the first year over 90% of our business had developed into custom labels. We had definitely found a niche. We were getting calls from all over the country asking if we could ship wine to them for weddings and special events. It was easy to see our future. Since those 90% of our customers were outside our area and were never going to set foot in our tasting room, I decided to shift our business to meet the demand. We are still working out a few things, but the shift has gone very well and business continues to grow rapidly. I am looking forward to 2010. We have many projects and improvements in development.

WCG - Do you still make the wine for the custom wine label bottles?
MA - Absolutely, that part has not changed. We import our grapes from major grape growing areas from around the world such as the Napa Valley, Spain, France, Italy and others. We then ferment and produce our wine in our Charlotte winery. This method not only allows us to offer custom wine at under $10 a bottle in many cases, but it allows us to use the very best grapes available and make some really good tasting wine.

WCG - What type of response have you received to your webcasts?
MA - Fortunately, we have received nothing but positive responses from our viewers on our web TV show, the Our audience is growing by double digit percentages each week. It has certainly been fun to do. I think people are responding to the idea that you can learn about wine and laugh a little, too. Where else are you going to find references to wine and Elvis in one place!

WCG - Do you ever look for value wines ($9.99 and under) for everyday drinking, if so what do you recommend?
MA - There are many excellent wines available in this price range. BTW, California is not the only place that makes excellent wine. Every state has some really good wineries, now. The first place I would go would be your local winery and do a tasting. I bet they will have a wine you’ll like. You can find many bottles under $10 and have an experience that no national wine can match.

WCG - Anything else you want to let the readers know?
MA - Thank you for drinking wine! I hope you can take a look at our website and if you have any questions about custom wine, please feel free to give us a call at 704-708-9463.

Checkout the Amber Crest Winery and design your own labels for that special occasion or just for fun wine!

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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