With nearly 9,000 wineries in the United States wine enthusiasts seemingly have an endless assortment from which to choose. But do they? It surprised us to learn just five companies control nearly 80% of every wine label you see on retail shelves and restaurant lists! A virtual company, Cellar Angels, is looking to change that by making higher quality wine more accessible and also benefitting charities in the process. We sat down with founder Martin Cody after hearing high praise for the wine seminar events Cellar Angels has held at various McConnell Golf locations including Raleigh Country Club, Grande Dunes, Sedgefield Country Club and Old North State Club.
The people we’ve spoke with indicated they’ve never heard of the wines you poured and they were all fantastic. Why is that?
I owned a bricks and mortar wine store in downtown Chicago for seven years and learned firsthand how the 3-tier (wine producer, wine distributor and wine retailer/restaurant) system operates. It’s an efficient system for the mass produced wines which grace every wine store, big-box chain and often restaurant list across the country. If you make 50,000 cases or more it’s a terrific system. If you produce under 5,000 cases, for example like 90% of the 900+ wineries in Napa, the system is terrible. Anyone who has been to Napa or Sonoma has seen this up close when the fall in love with a winery and ask “Why can’t I get this back home?” We solve that problem.
How do you find the wines Cellar Angels features to their members? Also, how much is membership?
Membership is currently complimentary and anyone of legal drinking age can sign up at www.cellarangels.com. I’ve been traveling to California wine country, specifically Napa and Sonoma for over twenty years. Since founding Cellar Angels in 2010 I’ve averaged about 4 trips per year and have amassed extensive relations with the artisan, small, handcrafted and boutique wineries. Many of these wineries only make their wines available to their private mail list customers, however they love the opportunity to benefit charity and Cellar Angels affords them the best chance to both grow awareness among fine wine enthusiasts and raise money at the same time. Some wineries produce under a 100 cases and we’ve actually poured some of these at McConnell clubs during our private seminars and the feedback has been sensational. It’s just a fantastic opportunity for members to both taste and order something so exclusive that few people will have access to. And raise funds for charity at the same time.
Numerous current and former PGA tour players have wineries or actually make wine. Why do you think golf and wine make such a good, shall we say, ‘pairing’?
Well played! Golf is a special, special game and when you have the privilege of playing it on courses like those in the McConnell Golf stable, the excitement, enjoyment and fulfillment are all greatly enhanced. The same is true in wine. You could play run-of-the-mill golf courses your entire life, but when you step to the first tee at Sedgefield, Treyburn or Old North State, your pulse quickens and you know you’re in for a treat as great attention is given to every detail. It is truly golf at its finest. The same is true in great wine - why drink mediocrity when excellence can be delivered to your door via the click of a mouse? The attention to detail and quality by someone actually walking the vines each day, hand harvesting and hand sorting to select the best grapes, comes through in the bottle. For those aspiring to the luxury lifestyle, great golf and great wine go hand in hand. Membership in McConnell and Cellar Angels indeed has its privileges.
Coming to a club near you
Cellar Angels will be providing several private wine seminars across McConnell Golf clubs in 2017. These are guided seminars tasting through five exclusive wines not available to the general public and expertly paired with small plates from the respective club’s chef.