I just love a nice glass of wine, don’t you? Today’s wedding vendor interview is with wine consultant and event planner Rivka of Wines with Personality based in Los Angeles, CA. Cheers!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.

I am an Independent Wine Consultant with a boutique winery in Napa called WineShop at Home. We create our own handcrafted, artisan wines that are exclusive to us. They cannot be found in any stores or restaurants. We have 25 to 30 wines available at any given time in a variety of styles and profiles – from bold and robust to light and sweet. Our wines are created in small batches and limited quantities and find their new homes pretty quickly. The great part is that we then introduce 4 to 5 new wines every month. So there is always something new and different to try.

We sell our wines directly to the consumer. You can give me a call, shoot me an email or order directly off my website. Your wines will be shipped out to you directly from the Winery within 2 to 3 days.

The really fun part is that we also bring our wines to people by offering guided in-home Wine Tastings. Guests have the opportunity to taste five to six of our newest wines. They experience the aromas and the flavors, sample specially selected food pairings, gain some wine knowledge and then can buy their new favorites right at the tasting. It’s really easy, a lot of fun, and a fantastic way to share the wine lifestyle experience with friends, family, co-workers, social groups, clubs, etc.

Read the full interview after the cut!

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If you could pick one unique product or service offering, which would be your favorite, and why?

I love our Wines With Customized Labels. They are absolutely perfect for weddings! You can design the wine labels with a photograph of the bride and groom along with a message. These wines can be placed on all the tables at the reception, given as gifts to the wedding party, sent as keepsakes to friends and family members who were unable to attend to the wedding and given as favors at the bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette parties. They add such a special touch to the event.

As a Wedding Planner, you can design the label with your company logo and branding message and use them for client gift giving as well as a marketing tool for your own business. It definitely makes you unique and memorable.

How did you get into the business?

I went to a wine tasting at a friend’s house. I had a great time and loved the wine. I am an Event Planner and have tried a lot of wine over the years. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed the wines I sampled. It was right before the Holidays and I had been invited to quite a few dinner parties and Holiday events. I am known for bringing interesting wines and I had been looking for some new ones. I loved the opportunity to taste the wines before I bought them. I didn’t have to blindly face the Wall of Wine at the market, pick out a random bottle and hope for the best. This time when I brought wine to my friends, I could confidently say, “You are going to LOVE this wine” rather than, “Well, I’ve never tried it…hope you like it”.

The best part was when I learned that the company was experiencing huge growth and looking for new Consultants. I think I may have heard angels singing. I thought – this is a job? I could have my own wine business, try new wines all the time, constantly bring people together to have a great time, share wine with people all over the country, and I could work the business any way I wanted, even part time. What’s not to love? I had finally found the ideal business for me. And it pairs perfectly with my Event Planning business. Since the moment I started, I have not stopped smiling. The Company continues to explode as word is getting out, more and more people are trying and loving our wines and are deciding to come along for the ride. I am constantly expanding my team to keep up with the demand. I am raising my glass to a great future!

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What’s your favorite part of the job?

As an adventurous person, my favorite part of the job is constantly trying new and exciting wines. I love being able to introduce the wines to people, share interesting tasting notes and have those wines become their new favorites. I have always thrived on being spontaneous, finding hidden, under the radar places to have different experiences and then clueing in my friends in to what I found. It translates perfectly into my wine business. It makes me happy to inspire people who are convinced that they only like a certain type of wine, to expand their thinking, try our wines and realize that they really do like a variety of wines. I also like motivating people to experience wines in a different way than they have before – creative food pairings, cool wine facts, unusual tasting ideas, etc.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to others just getting started in your field?

The best lesson I’ve learned is to always have an open mind. People will surprise you. I never go into any situation, whether a tasting or networking event or even a conversation, thinking I know how it is going to go based on preconceived notions. I listen closely to what people really say not what I think or assume they are going to say. I am always willing to try the helpful hints, ideas and different approaches that come my way. I have found that if you are truly open, you can learn a little something from every person you meet.

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What are your hobbies or non-work-related activities?

I love to travel the world. It’s so exciting to discover new places and people and see different ways of experiencing life. Living in a place like Los Angeles, though, is an adventure in itself. There are always all sorts of fun things happening in a lot of different places, every day of the week – from right in your neighborhood to a couple of hours away. Within 30 minutes from home, I can go hiking in the mountains in the morning, grab some fresh fruit at the farmers market at the bottom of the mountain, drive down the road to spend a few hours at the beach and then hit an outdoor concert in the park in the evening. It really is a fantastic place.

Any great stories from working with a client?

I walked in the door to one of my wine tastings with the sampler that the Host had selected for the people at her tasting. Before I even had a chance to put my bags down, I had one person immediately proclaim, “I only drink full bodied red wine” (I had more whites and lighter reds with me). Another person who said, “I only drink sweet wine” (I only had one sweet wine with me). And my personal favorite of the evening, two different people, yes two, who both said, “I really don’t like wine”. I thought, okay, well, I guess the pressure’s off because it doesn’t seem like anyone is going to buy any wine.

I responded by saying, “Well, since you’re already here, how about hanging out at the table with us. You can just try a small sip and if you don’t like it, I promise I won’t be insulted”. Well, those four people became my new favorite people. Why? Because they were open enough to be willing to give it a shot. They listened to what I had to say, laughed at my jokes, tried all the wines and fully participated. At the end of the tasting, who do you think were the ones who ended up buying the most wine? The best compliments I received that night were, “I can’t believe I’m drinking red wine and liking it!” and “This white isn’t as sweet as I thought it would be, and it’s actually pretty good”. My favorite part of the night? The husband of the Host, the hard core beer drinker who at the beginning of the evening actually laughed at me from his recliner when I asked him if he would be joining us, ended up buying a case of red wine!

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What makes you different from others in your field?

My background as an Event Planner allows me to provide my clients not only with the wines, but with the added knowledge of how to effectively utilize their wines as part of the big picture of the whole event. Whether it’s a small dinner party, a client event or a large wedding – wines can play a key role in creating the mood and the ambiance. Having that perspective definitely differentiates me from others.

I have tremendous passion for what I do. I am fascinated by the delicate art of winemaking and I am constantly chatting with the winemakers and industry insiders I meet to increase my knowledge. I then love to share my discoveries with all the interesting people I am meeting through having this business.

Are there any trends that you absolutely love or would love to see brides leave behind?

The Bridezilla craziness. There is just no reason for it. I have planned many events over the years – from impromptu weddings on the beach to elaborate, high end, expensive weddings. All of that stress over the little details – the colors, the food, the table assignments, the flowers, the cake, etc. – you know what people remember? None of those things for sure! What they really remember is the Love. The way the bride and groom looked at each other. The pure joy and pervasive feeling of happiness throughout the day. Forgetting the world for a moment, dancing up a storm with friends and family and toasting the bride and groom.

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All Photos Courtesy of WineShop at Home

What tips or advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning their big day?

The wedding is just one day. The marriage is a lifetime. Don’t let the planning of that one day cause hurt feelings that can set the tone for family interactions for years to come. Be willing to compromise because when you think about it, they really are only little things in the big picture. So take a step back, crack a few jokes, laugh together at the nuttiness and create fun memories of the planning. Please don’t sweat the details. I promise you that it will all come together and it will be amazing!

Thanks Rivka! For more information about Wines with Personality, please visit her WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to her website.

Do you have any questions or comments for Rivka? Add them to the comments below!

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