Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Cegelski-Gaebe.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I began my company in 2011 when volunteering at the inaugural Napa Valley Film Festival. My family had been involved with wineries and wine had been a passion of my recently deceased father. I had gotten my MBA with the intention of starting up a new company with my dad but in the midst of my MBA he wound up with lyphompha of the brain and ended up passing away in 2010. The only reason I was getting my MBA was to work with him, and it left me with a sense of no future or desire to pursue any careers.
In 2011, I was working on some side jobs and volunteering at different companies when I came up with my idea of connecting wineries that were hurting due to the financial crisis with people who had jobs and thus money to spend on wine while learning of new wineries and wine tasting within a reasonable budget. I began the business in honor of my father’s memory as I was not able to build what we had planned but instead built something different that allows me to think of him frequently and know he would have loved to be a part of.
Fast forward to the present day, we currently have close to 15,000 members and have now expanded from just Napa into the rest of California wine country as well as Oregon and Washington Wine Country. We work with over 450 winery partners and add new wineries to our program on a weekly basis.
We build close to 50-100 itineraries a week for our members resulting in positive wine tasting experiences from the most novice of wine drinkers to the most experienced.
Has it been a smooth road?
I have been very fortunate to have some amazing family members help me out through the way including my brother in law and my cousins who are all very talented and have helped me start I company that I wouldn’t have been able to start without them. Recently, the fires in Napa have caused some troubles as did the hurricane in Florida as our card manufacturer is down there. I also had an indirect competitor cause some problems by building fake profiles on review platforms to hurt my business.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Priority Wine Pass story. Tell us more about the business.
We find different wineries for all different types of people. We then connect the people with the wineries by building customized tasting itineraries as well as offering advice on how to best experience wine country. In addition, we get them specials on tastings including: complimentary tastings, half off tastings, complimentary elevated experiences, VIP experiences with winemakers, and access to wineries not typically available to the public.
I’m most proud of my small organization and the partnerships built as well as the positive feedback I receive from members when I’ve made their vacation. I work on really helping out the small entrepreneurs whether they be bloggers, tour drivers, or small family wineries.
Our company is different from others primarily because we offer a complimentary itinerary and concierge available to customers’ needs.
We have had the biggest success with our wineries as we primarily are sending folks to them that would fit the wineries style resulting in sales for the winery and phenomenal experiences for the members. We also have more winery partners than any other program that branches out from San Diego up to the border of Canada.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have to give a shout out to Nolan Plant, my cousin, he designed the logo and has helped launch the new website and app. He manages the day to day website and makes new and interesting things happen.
Morgan Plant, my other cousin and Nolan’s twin. Morgan has worked tirelessly on building our new app that just was approved.
Alon Brenner, his company really helped Priority Wine Pass take off as his business featured it to corporate employees in the SF Bay Area, Orange County/LA, and San Diego.
Local Wally (napatouristguide.com) has been a phenomenal partner and has helped to really help the company take off.
- Use code ‘voyage’ at checkout to receive $20 off the annual membership ($60 retail normally)
- Website: www.prioritywinepass.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org