Danni Lin, like many wine buyers, used to find herself dazed in the grocery store, overwhelmed by all the products and ads. She thought that her knowledge of wine determined what tasted best to her – until she met wine expert Tim Hanni, who introduced her to the idea of “vinotype,” or how one’s personal preferences and biology influence what wine they like. In 2017, she took this knowledge a step further by opening GREAT WINE, the world’s first company to produce wine based on the customers’ vinotypes.
At Lin’s Seattle tasting room and online store, rather than tell people what they should like, she encourages people to speak their minds – and then creates delicious wine based on what they say.
In 2018, GREAT WINE was named a finalist in the American Small Business Championship, sponsored by SCORE and Sam’s Club. The business also won a Stevie American Business Startup of the Year Award, and 425 Business Magazine’s 30 Under 30 award. In 2017, Apex Manual, the most widely published luxury lifestyle magazine in China, named GREAT WINE “The Representative Winery of the USA,” and their tasting room was awarded Qminder Best Wine Tasting Experience.
GREAT WINE also opened its first international satellite tasting room in China in 2018. The company hopes to help Chinese customers learn about their vinotypes and then promote California wines as an option.
Lin’s director of brand marketing, Michella Chiu, first sought out mentoring from SCORE and eventually, Lin joined her. The two now work with three different SCORE mentors: Carl Gerhardt helps with franchisor preparation, Catherine Ko focuses on marketing and sales plans, and John Strom guides them on operational model and documentation.
Lin continues to hold wine-tasting events for entrepreneurial-minded friends where they can network and exchange ideas. She encourages other CEOs to be open to new learning opportunities. “There will be times you will learn something that does not answer an urgent need of the business at that particular moment,” she says. “However, always keep your mind open and unrelated dots will join someday.”