She’s not a wine geek. Far from it. Whenever someone (for instance her husband) starts to wax on about how they can detect gooseberries or cumin or porcini in a wine’s aroma, Danielle Westfall is most likely rolling her eyes. It’s not that she doesn’t like wine … she loves it, in fact, there’s nothing better than a great glass of Pinot Noir or Sauv Blanc at the end of the day – or any time really; she just doesn’t want to analyze it to death.
People are surprised at this lack of, shall we say, descriptive gusto. Just about her entire career has been spent in the wine business, starting with a marketing and operations director role at Wine.com – one of the first on-line wine retailers — in the late 1990’s. From there she eventually moved on to Viansa Winery. Viansa (a brand known at the time for being a complete innovator – -selling over 80K cases a year solely through the Direct channel) was like a second child. As the VP of Marketing & Ops, she advanced the winery’s consumer direct business in what was the true sense of multi-channel direct wine brand. A winery property that could be compared to a theme park, a Wine Club with tens of thousands members, catalogs, food products, magazines, events, and oh yeah! The wines! It was an experience she would not change for anything.
This Thirsty Girl is an entrepreneur at heart (and perhaps a sucker for start-ups) and in 2006 she decided to launch her own business, Westfall Marketing Group. The timing was good – more and more wine and luxury brands were starting to realize that marketing directly to consumers was a good way to build awareness and loyalty and sell more wine. Her client base expanded quickly to include brands like legendary racecar driver Mario Andretti’s wine brand, Andretti Winery, Francis Ford Coppola’s Rubicon Estate, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, St. Supery Vineyards and Winery, and Childress Vineyards of NASCAR fame. Exciting work with the perks of great wines to enjoy.
Then she got another idea. After having children she would get together with other moms for play dates and inevitably the conversation would turn to the myriad charity events they were involved in or cared about. One day she thought — why not put these two together? And that’s how VinoFina – an on-line wine retailer that donates a portion of every bottle sold to charities and non-profits – got started. That was in the fall of 2009.
Apparently one start-up, a consulting business and two girls under 7 wasn’t enough for her, so in early 2010 her and her husband Tony, launched Winery Insider, a luxury members only wine channel. So, like countless others before them, they dumped their life savings into starting another business.
So here she is with one husband, two children, and three businesses. Juggling is all she does, besides drink. Sleeping is for sissies. And though it’s true she may not be one to discuss a wine’s acidity level or tannin profile, she know what she likes, why she likes it and when she’d want to drink it, and after all this experience she’s pretty good at figuring out what her customers like as well.
Hopefully, that’ll be enough businesses for her for now … until the next idea pops up. After all she is a Thirsty Girl.