#VINO4: Cool People. 4 Questions. 1 Bottle of Wine.
We’ve said that “wine is like baseball cards for adults” – well, Donna Katz and her team have made that statement a digital reality by creating tradeagrape. Tradeagrape is a mobile App that enables you to trade a bottle of wine you have with someone else for a bottle of wine they have! Donna went from the trading room floor to wine country, then decided to become a tech entrepreneur just a few years ago. She resigned from the trading room floor and came to Napa as a way to decompress while keeping an open spirit about her life’s next adventure.
To wake up to the vineyard every day, hand farm it all season, harvest the fruits of, and craft the wine from, is a dream I didn’t know could come true, but so grateful that it did.
Donna moved to Napa in 2013 found a small property with an established vineyard and a ranch style (Brady Bunch) home that hadn’t been touched since it was first built in the early 1960’s. She launched into farming and learning all that she could whilst on the land, surrounding herself with a few quality key people who helped her learn and nurture. I renovated the house on the property, embarked on the startup and dove very deep into the unknown waters of winemaking. Enjoy the rest of our interview with Donna Katz.
1. How did the concept of tradeagrape come about? What was the ‘aha’ moment when coming up with the concept for tradeagrape?
The idea of tradeagrape actually spawned from 3 observations/experiences that fit with 3 of my passions, wine, community and trading. I’ll elaborate.
I’m grateful to have built a cellar over the years and love the wines I have, but eager to try new and different wines from here and other parts of the world.
I love the sense of community, and being surrounded by people that care about people and the life and wonders around them. A music analogy… I’m a member of the Pearl Jam fan club called the Ten Club. It’s a community, that has a common denominator passion called the music/band. There’s a forum to communicate amongst the members, people look out for each other, co-exist, share and spread the love. We see each other on tours, geek out in our passion and live our lives. It’s like a parallel existence that I love and wanted to see in the wine world. Community also brings in a sense of personal or intrinsic value proposition and there’s totally a place for that in wine too which I’ll refer to further along.
I noticed not long after arriving here that people throughout the wine industry are ad hoc trading wines, but with everyone being time poor, connecting isn’t always easy. A lot of folks that work in the nuts and bolts of the hospitality world are more likely cash poor too, but they are likely to be wine rich and have cases of wines stacked up in rooms throughout their home. Bring all three things together and you actually see that they overlap, and overlap well.
The biggest a-ha moment was deciding to develop tradeagrape as an app and not a desktop platform. I always wanted it to be simple, fun, playful and sophisticated from a user experience perspective, but realized that because wine is part of our every day lives, the platform needed to be at our fingertips and be present, as dynamic as the model is, so it just made more sense to be a mobile app and be there for every wine moment. This literal a-ha moment hit me during a random visit to the Google campus. Not exactly sure why, but how’s that for Silicon Valley inspiration!
2. What affects (if any) do millennials have on the wine industry?
Millennials do have an affect on the wine industry and that affect will absolutely continue to grow. I think sometimes the wine industry is nervous about the demographic cause they’re not sure if they understand them. And they probably don’t yet, but hats off that they’re wanting to find out and cater. It’s a fast pace evolving landscape out there and a constant battle to keep up. Listening, learning and navigating together are likely to help us all succeed.
3. We’re all about relating wine with various aspects of culture like fashion, film, food, and music. What film do you see yourself watching while drinking a Rose, and what music with a Super Tuscan?
I could totally smash an entire bottle of Rose whilst watching a surf movie. Sun, sand, ocean energy, good looking guys and very little clothing. Pass the bottle! As for Super Tuscan’s, they are very evening versatile. And smuggle well into most movie theaters – allegedly of course 😉 In my case, they, and their cousin varieties in Nebbiolo and Barbera pair incredibly well with Pearl Jam or other choice gigs.
4. We’ve said ‘wine is like baseball cards for adults”; do you think more people will start collecting? Why? What are some barriers to collecting today?
Nice analogy to baseball cards – and spot on. Yes, more people will get into collecting wine. And even more so with access. Social media gives us the awareness and now tradeagrape technology gives us the access. We have a vision to break the current barrier we consider as limited access to wine. tradeagrape is all about access. We are opening up the wines of the world at the fingertips of the wine loving world. And to those who don’t know they love wine yet; they too can now explore and find what rocks their taste buds and spirits.
Wine gems don’t only exist in wine stores, restaurants, supermarkets or tasting rooms, they are also under just about every roof of every home, and most staircases! Wine is pretty much on every table and across every culture.
What is your ‘bucket list” bottle you’d love to add to your collection?
1965 Chateau Latour. This was one of the last bottles from my Dads cellar that we enjoyed together. We were both wowed. Speechless at times. I think partly cause of the significance of finally opening such a beauty together, and also that we both knew, that that alone was creating a life long memory. We wanted to drink and savor all at the same time. We relished in its evolution in the glass and how extraordinary it was, and had held up. It meant and means so much to me that I have kept the actual bottle.