First of all, I feel the I need to apologize for this title. While it is informative, it’s probably one more rhyming title that my website doesn’t need. I think I’m trying to make up for all the years in high school when I was only capable of rhyming ‘orange’ with ‘door hinge.’ While my rhymes are questionable and won’t get me invited to any music or poetry award shows, I’m much more confident in my ability to connect with wine. I may be years away from being able to describe a glass the way The Drunken Cyclist or Rockin Red do, but I am truly interested in learning as much about wine as possible. With this attitude in mind, I was more than willing to jump on the opportunity to interview Saurabh Abrol, the CEO of Wine Chateau.
For those of you out there who don’t live in states like Pennsylvania, where alcohol is harder to get in 2014 than during the Prohibition, Wine Chateau is a website with a massive inventory of wine to buy online. Originally a small brick and mortar business run by Abrol’s father, this company has grown exponentially and should be shipping to over 32 international countries by the end of 2015. Online wine shopping is a booming phenomena that is capable of pleasing wine novices and serious imbibers, so this interview is a great introduction to it all. I’ve added the entirety of it below, and after you read a little bit about this formidable entrepreneur, who got into wine after graduating from New Jersey Institute of Technology with a Computer Science degree, go browse the website and do some holiday shopping!
- What sparked your curiosity and interest in wine?
I started to explore the wine world after I joined my father in the business. I guess the challenge of learning about the vast world of wine was intriguing enough for me.
- When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in wine over anything else?
When I graduated college with a Computer Science degree, all the jobs were being sent overseas. I did not want to compete with that. I soon after learned that the wine industry is growing double digits every year. The Internet was also growing in conjunction with the wine sales growth so I felt that joining my father in this business was the right move at the time.
- Was there anything that specifically drew you toward going the online route when expanding as opposed to opening up more physical locations?
The Internet was the online portal for me to sell my products to the world. With the physical store locations you are extremely limited by the geographical area and there is a limitation to how much business you can conjure up.
- What is the most fulfilling part of the job for you?
The challenges I face everyday that teaches me something new every day. I think that is a satisfaction that I cherish.
- Do you find that the online and brick and mortar stores appeal to two different types of clientele?
Yes, the online is geared towards a customer who would buy more in bulk and the B&M stores are for customers who want to come in once a day and purchase that one bottle of wine or spirit.
- Have you seen an increased interest in online wine shopping since starting Wine Chateau?
Yes, the market share has grown tremendously over the years as more and more people are starting to realize that they can purchase wines online at the convenience of their home and in some cases, get it for cheaper prices.
- How has the company grown and changed since you started selling online?
Without a doubt, there is a lot more competition online. The online competitive space has gone from a very few online wine retailers in 2002, to over 10,000 online wine retailers in 2014. Also, the new technology has a big part to play in how you secure and convert your customer.
- One of the benefits of having a physical store that people can actually visit is that it provides people with a more personal experience. How does your company stay connected to its online customers?
As mentioned above, we utilize certain technologies to recommend better personalized wine choices for different customers. We are also continuously evolving our front end design layouts to make shopping easier.
- Personally, my blog has a lot of readers who are new to wine. Do you have any advice for these newcomers who are interesting in exploring the wine world and Wine Chateau; is there a good place for them to start in order to discover their preferences?
The biggest advice I would give us don’t get overwhelmed with wine. It is actually a quite simple and rewarding drink you can have after a nice long day. The new wine drinkers should indulge in a nice Pinot Noir to kick start their palate and move on to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- What do you believe makes Wine Chateau stand out from other online wine retailers?
Wine Chateau tends to offer the largest selection of wines & spirits online at very competitive pricing. Our online website is extremely user friendly and will make the right recommendations for repeat customers.
- Since you started the company, what would you say has been its most successful or satisfying moment?
The most satisfying moment for me, I say satisfying as the word successful is very relative, has been when my father told me how proud he was of me to grow the business to another level.
- How do you see Wine Chateau developing over the next five years and what are your ultimate goals for the future?
We are continuously investing in the future of this business. We will continue to grow the selection we offer online, continue to receive great deals from our suppliers and pass the savings to our value customers, and continue to invest in new technology and efficient logistics in our warehouse for faster turnaround shipping.
- Just to end with a fun one, do you have a favorite wine and what is it?
Great question but it’s a very hard question. It’s tough to choose your favorite amongst your children. I love a lot of different wines with different cuisines, but if I were to pick one, I would say it would be a nice Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.