Theta Mu Alumnus Uses Extensive Vineyard Expertise to Elevate the At-Home Wine Experience
Posted on Mar 30, 2017
Peter Chouinard (Massachusetts, Theta Mu ‘85) has been a transformative influence in the wine industry for more than 15 years. Brother Chouinard began his wine adventure in 2002 as the CFO of Wente Family Estates, a family-owned vineyard and winery in Livermore, Calif. The Wente family owned their vineyard and winery since 1883, and in the early 2000s, they were looking to refocus and grow its brand and integrate the next generation into the family business. Enter Chouinard.
Peter spent the next seven years as President of Wente Family Estates. Through his leadership, the winery exited more than 50 unprofitable international markets and refocused its limited resources and energy of the winery on growing the business in the U.S. They developed new “small lot” higher price and higher quality wine labels, and leveraged its new products to enter the highly profitable direct channel. Further, it was necessary to rebuild several levels of management to gain the breadth of talent required to grow the winery business and ensure success. This foundation under Peter’s stewardship ultimately enabled the winery to transition back to family leadership when he moved on in 2010. As a result, in 2011 Wente Family Estates was named American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
For those unfamiliar with Wente Family Estates, it’s important to note that it is the oldest continuously run family winery in the nation. As you can imagine, having a non-family member “hired gun” run the business was a big decision. Brother Chouinard said his role was broader than most could imagine as the President role dealt with both business and family holdings. The business includes multiple wine brands doing business in every U.S. state and 50+ countries, farming 3,000+ acres, running a golf course, several restaurants, a catering operation and a seasonal concert venue. The most important role was as lead director for the family board of directors but in the end, he characterized his role as both a leader and a steward for their family business.
After nearly a decade with Wente, Peter set out on his own and joined partners to develop and open Bluxome Street Winery, which opened to the public in 2011. Prior to the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, most wine produced in northern California was made in the city of San Francisco. The great earthquake was dovetailed by Prohibition and all wine-making operations moved out of the city, to the vineyards. For almost 100 years, no wine was being produced in San Francisco. Once again, enter Chouinard.
Over the last five years, Bluxome Street Winery has been producing both red and white varietals with a focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, Calif. Operations were expanded in 2015 by opening a second tasting room in Ghirardelli Square.
In 2016, Peter decided it was time to focus on personalizing the wine drinking experience in the home. The at-home wine market is saturated with aeration gadgets designed to open the bouquet of tight wines. However, these aeration products have a limited impact as they are constrained by their use of ambient air (the air we breathe, which is just 21% oxygen). Better solutions, such as a decanter also take time. Wine enthusiasts seek less astringent, flavorful wine that is smooth and silky and today’s products consistently fall short relative to their intended use. Enter Chouinard.
Peter was recruited by one of the largest medical- and food-grade gas companies in the world to bring a concept out of the lab and into the market. With the product-ready for market and making waves in the wine world, the business will complete its Series A funding round this Summer and will be a corporate spin off.
As CEO of Velv Wine, Peter now leads a transformative company that is elevating the at-home wine experience. Brother Chouinard and his team recently launched the Velv Wine Oxygenator which infuses tens-of-thousands PUREOXYGEN micro-bubbles directly into a bottle of wine, elevating the aroma, revealing the fruit flavor and producing a wine that is silky smooth in just minutes.
Brother Chouinard says that, “The Velv Wine Oxygenator can accomplish in 1 minute what a decanter can do in 1 hour, at three minutes its surpasses all aeration methods on the market, and at the 5 minutes, the recommended time for all reds, it achieves a performance level previously never achieved. The secret is in Velv Wine Oxygenator’s proprietary PUREOXYGEN micro-bubbles technology.”
For PIKE wine enthusiasts wanting to learn more about Peter and his revolutionary new product, please visit www.velvwine.com. Brother Chouinard is a proud PIKE and is offering a PIKE discount on his product. Enter promocode Peter when checking out now through the end of April to receive a $100 discount.