The Inside Scoop to L'uva Bella Winery and RedHead Wine by Christian Turner

By: Christian Turner

YSU Wine Program Youngstown State University currently has a partnership with L’uva Bella Winery. This partnership allows L’uva Bella to make a YSU sponsored Wine featuring YSU’s logo. L’uva Bella makes two wines in this program - Pete’s Red Pinot Noir and Pete’s White Pinot Grigio. This is a very unique program because there are only currently 11 other colleges/universities that have their own private brand of wine. YSU Pete’s brand wines are in many local grocery stores, gas stations, liquor stores, etc. The target market for this product consists of individuals that reside in the Youngstown metropolitan area, especially alumni of Youngstown State University. This product is a great quality of wine and is commonly purchased for graduation gifts, Christmas gift or even just memorabilia.

Working with Marisa Sergi Throughout my internship I have had the privilege of working with Marisa Sergi, the Chief Operating Officer at L’uva Bella and the founder of RedHead Wine. She has taught me a plethora of creative marketing strategies that have given me a completely different perspective on how to market a product. The wine industry is such a competitive market, companies are constantly fighting for shelf space in stores. There are so many different types of wines and even more companies that manufacture or sell it. Marisa has done an outstanding job marketing her RedHead Wine Brand and setting it apart from other competitors. She has taught me a very important concept of soft selling. Being able to sell a product to someone without demanding them to buy it is one of the many different ways Marisa appeals to her current and potential customers. An example of this is when she posts live videos while she’s in stores that carry her wine. In the live videos she tells her customers to check out a specific sale or event that is going on in that particular store along then mentions to check out her display of wine while they’re there. This strategy benefits every party involved. Marisa has taken me under her wing and has given me useful advice on how to network with other people on many different platforms. By helping me create a LinkedIn account and teaching me how she uses it, has given me a better idea of how to use LinkedIn properly to enhance my network.

My Internship Experience The experience this internship has provided me has been eye opening. I was given the task of creating a marketing plan for the YSU Pete’s Brand wines. While working on this project throughout my 10 weeks with L’uva Bella, creative marketing strategies were not the only pieces of information I learned. Working closely with individuals that own/run a business and learning what it takes to keep a business running day to day was knowledge that will help me with my future endeavors when I start a business of my own one day. Working on a marketing plan and learning a plethora of useful information about things such as how retail works, distribution of products, pricing, and establishing a brand has made this internship so much more dynamic then I imagined it would be.

4 Important takeaways and interesting facts I have learned from this internship at L’uva Bella Winery.

  1. Knowing and understanding your customers Typically, newer wine drinkers or young people tend to like sweeter wines. As their palate develops, they begin to like dry, less sweet wines. This isn’t true for everyone; however, this is a popular trend that occurs with wine drinkers. Understanding this concept is critical for figuring out how to market each product based on its tasting notes. Focusing on what each group of customers enjoy allows our marketing efforts to be more personal.
  2. Trends for Wine Fall and Spring Juice seasons are incredibly important for L’uva Bella. A large portion of the companies’ sales occur during the months of August through December. This is because wine is more popular during this time. People enjoy sitting next to a fire enjoying a glass of wine, purchasing juice to make wine on their own, or even watching a football game with a glass of wine. All of these activities are done during this prime time which is why wine sales increase.
  3. Types of Wine/ Tasting Notes There are thousands of different varieties of wines. L’uva Bella currently makes 42 different types. I have learned that the names of the wines are either the type of grape that wine is made of or the name of the region the grapes were grown. For example, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon are all types of grapes. Champagne, Bordeaux, and Burgundy are all regions in France that grapes are grown in. I thought this was an interesting piece of information that I thought I would share for those who may not know!
  4. Wine Making Process Through discussions I have had with the head winemaker, he gave me insight on how wine is made. There are thousands of different techniques to make wine. The way wine is filtered, racked, stored etc. all differs from place to place. A company such as L’uva Bella that sells the same juice they use to make their wine, to other wineries. The final product that each winery creates will taste completely different even though they used the same juice. This was confusing to me at first because I once thought if you use the same juice, all wines made from it will taste the same. I was completely wrong.
Picture taken at L’uva Bella Winery  Christian Turner, YSU c/o 2021

Picture taken at L’uva Bella Winery

Christian Turner, YSU c/o 2021

I got to speak at Walmart HQ! Read and watch my thoughts..

Out of the thousands of suppliers that Walmart has, they picked ME..a small town girl from Ohio to be their “lead supplier” at the 2019 Open Call event this year.

I believe I was asked because over the last 2 years working with them I..

  1. always went the extra mile - if I needed to drive 4 hours to help a store manager with my products, I was there.

  2. I problem solved - I didn’t have a million dollar budget like my competition so I got CREATIVE and pushed the limits on social media to spread the word.

  3. Walmart asked me to speak at a mini corporate event in Columbus & say a few words - I didn’t “wing” it. I wrote a 3 minute impactful speech. thanks to Derrick McDowell for the help!

  4. When I walked into a store, I acted like it was my business - I treated each associate with respect, asked how I can help and improve customer service for them and my customers who buy RedHead Wine

If you have a mindset that you will absolutely do what it takes to succeed, great things will happen. This is a highlight of my speech with the CMO. Instead of using the spotlight to talk about me, I used it to highlight my hometown and the impact you can have as a growing small business. Be kind today everyone! Push yourself and great things will happen 💞

Experience my journey to Walmart Home Office!

Hey everyone! It's Marisa Sergi, the winemaker of RedHead Wine! On this vlog, I take you with me to Bentonville, Arkansas which is the home of Walmart HQ! I have been honored with an invite to speak alongside their leadership (Steven Bratspies, the CMO!!!!) about my story building RedHead Wine to help inspire other supplier hopefuls before they pitch their products at the 2019 Open Call celebration.

Walmart Open Call is Walmart's commitment to invest over 250B dollars back into the US economy by purchasing US made products. According to Boston Consulting Group, this initiative will create over 1,000,000 US jobs over ten years! How cool!!!

Do Salt and Vinegar Chips, Flamin' Hot Cheetos and Peanut Butter Crackers Pair well with RedHead Red Blend?!

I created a youtube channel! I am excited to have finally started making videos to show you more about wine, food, and my winemaking skills…. all with a sparkle of my RedHead attitude! In this weeks video, I pair more “netflix-binge worthy” snacks with RedHead Red Blend. Bare with me - it’s my second video, ever! It’s unscripted and I just go with the flow! Like and subscribe to keep up with my videos every Tuesday around noon. Cheers - Marisa

My adventure to the West Coast: Day three and four in Menlo Park and Palo Alto

As you all know, I am a huge foodie - as a winemaker, being passionate about food comes along with the job, right?! Ironically, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I think this is funny because wine really doesn’t “pair” with breakfast, but I am up for that challenge (stay tuned for when I launch my new youtube series). Once we woke up, we searched for the top rated breakfast spots in Menlo Park / Palo Alto. We landed upon Quattro …and as soon as we arrived I had to order a cappuccino! I usually order black coffee and add cream or milk to it, but since I am on a trip, I decided to feel a little “fancy” with this choice.

How could you not smile when you know you’re about to have a delicious cappuccino?!

How could you not smile when you know you’re about to have a delicious cappuccino?!

This delectable beverage was even served with cinnamon dusted shortbread cookies. Let. me. tell. you…they were too good to be true! 10/10 would order again. I forgot to take a photo of what I ate ( I was too hungry and forgot LOL) but, I ordered a three egg omelette with fresh goat cheese, mushrooms and asparagus.

After breakfast, we went back to the Airbnb to get some work done. When I am away, I always make time to get things done for RedHead so I can keep you all in the loop and ensure the wine is readily available in your markets! I love what I do and love keeping up, regardless where I am. But, in the meantime, I was waiting for my best friend, Lexi, to arrive in Menlo Park. When I used to work in Modesto, Lexi and I met at a mutual friend’s house and have been friends ever since. I haven’t seen her in over 2.5 years (since I moved back to Ohio!), so I was counting down the minutes!

We decided to spend the day walking around Stanford University’s campus and get a late lunch. If you haven’t been to Stanford before, I highly recommend that you do. The campus is beyond gorgeous and full of history, endless opportunities for students, and a place that is fun to walk around and enjoy the beautiful California weather. Here are some photos from our walking tour:

Lexi and I being our true selves LOL

Lexi and I being our true selves LOL

Lexi and I on Stanford University’s Campus

Lexi and I on Stanford University’s Campus

These hallways stretched on forever! The photo doesn’t do the architecture justice!

These hallways stretched on forever! The photo doesn’t do the architecture justice!

My sister, Michelle, standing outside Stanford’s famous church.

My sister, Michelle, standing outside Stanford’s famous church.

Stanford has a lovely viewing tower that allows you to see all of campus and the San Francisco bay.

Stanford has a lovely viewing tower that allows you to see all of campus and the San Francisco bay.

Stanford is so beautiful, that I feel showing you rather than telling you is a better way to showcase my time there. To learn more about Stanford, check out there website here.

After walking for a few hours, we ventured off campus to a well-known (according to google LOL) pho restaurant celled, hometown noodle. It’s a very small and quaint place, but…wow….their pho is probably the best I have ever had in my entire life, thanks google!

One large bowl of #17, please! (Chicken Noodle soup)

One large bowl of #17, please! (Chicken Noodle soup)

Overall, day three was a simple day still filled with adventure, friends and amazing food (are you surprised?!). We really had a great time together and the day flew by fast.

If you’re looking to learn more about my experiences or have questions / comments about what I did, tweet me at @RedHeadWine.

Cheers! - Winemaker, Marisa


Day 4- time spent in Palo Alto (downtown)

At Salt and Straw ice cream in Palo Alto

At Salt and Straw ice cream in Palo Alto

We spent the earlier part of the day getting work done and preparing to fly back to Ohio. But most of our adventures happened in the evening- we wanted to hit up downtown Palo Alto which is full of fun places to eat!

We stopped at Salt and Straw, known for unique and delicious flavors of ice cream. I absolutely LOVE anything coconut flavored, so I had to get their Toasted Coconut Milk & Cookies (v)! You can find the description that sold my appetite and heart below:

Salty, sweet, fudgy, and simply unforgettable! We pump up the coconutty goodness of our extra-rich coconut ice cream by blending in dark-toasted shredded coconut, then add in handfuls of homemade (gluten-free!) salted chocolate chip cookies and velvety-soft chocolate ganache made with almond milk.

Uhmm…how amazing does THAT sound???!! I wish I could indulge in a scoop…or two..while I finish writing this blog!

But, even better news, Salt and Straw allows you to pick two flavors, regardless of what size you order. I decided to be a little more adventurous and chose Honey Lavender! Here is the flavor description from the website:

For this dusky purple delight with a cult following, we steep pounds of carefully selected lavender flowers in honey to bring out the buds’ delicate herbaceousness. While other folks use a lavender oil and can tip the scales towards perfume, our method treats lavender like fine tea, extracting just the right amount of flavor for a beautifully round, creamy taste kissed by a bit of honey.

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Last stop of the night before wrapping up the trip was a quick stop at Signona’s Farmer’s Market. Before heading to the west coast, my grandma requested that we pick up authentic jumbo CA raisins. We were worried we would not find any, but, Signona’s for the win! They had a dried fruit bar at the store- full of endless options!

We may or may not have bought a mountain of dried fruit ….

We may or may not have bought a mountain of dried fruit ….

Stumbling upon Signona’s was the perfect way to end the trip - a great place to shop and find unique foods while grabbing some authentic CA raisins!