Feb 22, 2022
“Give customers what they want” is a simple, yet often overlooked, business maxim. For Joe Wagner, the founder of Copper Cane Wines & Provisions, it’s the cornerstone of a business philosophy that has made him one of the most successful wine entrepreneurs in history.
A fifth generation winemaker with a passion for Pinot noir, Wagner introduced his first brand, Belle Glos, over two decades ago. Wagner developed Belle Glos while eschewing traditional growing techniques and winemaking processes specific to Pinot noir, a methodology shared by his second brand, Meiomi. Launched in 2006, Meiomi is known for its bold and robust flavors and encourages consumers to “go with your palate,” a credo intended to empower people to drink wine they enjoy, as opposed to the recommendations of sommeliers and critics. The strategy delivered, and Meiomi rode a wave of demand that culminated in a $315 million non-asset sale to beverage alcohol conglomerate Constellation Brands in 2015.
Wagner utilized the proceeds to build out Copper Cane Wines & Provisions, a portfolio company he launched in 2014 that features several Pinot noir-centric brands, including Belle Glos, along with fast-growing labels Elouan Wines, Napa Valley Quilt and Böen.
In an interview featured in this episode, Wagner spoke about the origins of his approach to winemaking and how he thoughtfully aligned his style with growing consumer demand for bold red wines. He also explained why he’s not affected by criticism from some within the wine industry, how reducing the price of Meiomi was key to mainstream adoption of the brand and how that brand’s sale was guided by his desire to pave the way for his family’s next generation of winemakers.
0:51: Joe Wagner, Founder, Copper Cane Wines & Provisions – Wagner spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about his six kids, how he manages his personal and professional responsibilities and his family’s lineage in the wine industry. He also discussed a newspaper profile that examined his role in the evolution of the wine business, the challenges of working with Pinot noir early into his career and how the movie “Sideways” impacted awareness and demand for the varietal and his demand-based approach to the development of Meiomi. Later, he explained how a morbid subject was an important consideration in the sale of Meiomi, how the acquisition created “balance” for his company and staff and why his work with Copper Cane is about providing his children with a similar opportunity that his father gave him.