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wondryChaz and Whitney Gates give the Sharks a taste of Wondry, their unique wine company, in Shark Tank episode 1408. Wondry wines, unlike traditional wines, aren’t made from grapes, they’re made from fruit and they have twice the alcohol content of “regular” wine. They come in a variety of flavors including peach, apple, mango and more.

Whitney grew up watching her uncle make wine out of all sorts of fruits and even vegetables like corn. She knew she wanted to be a wine maker, so she studied the craft at Grayson College in Texas. Whitney spent the first 12 years of her career in brand management positions for companies like Kimberly Clark, Nestle, Coca Cola and Keurig/Dr. Pepper. She went all in on Wondry in July, 2021. Chaz is the COO of the company and he still works as legal counsel for Texas Instruments.

They started Wondry during the Covid-19 pandemic, which was a bit of a challenge. They do all the wine making, bottling and shipping from their facility in the Dallas area. All their products are organic and bottles run from $15-$25. They were able to get distribution a few months after they started up in Dallas area Target and Total Wine stores. The company has a conscience too: with every purchase they “make a donation to under-represented entrepreneurs, as they help bring their communities one step closer to unity & inclusion.” They likely want a Shark to help them expand nationally.

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Wondry Wine

Wondry Shark Tank Recap

Chaz and Whitney enter the Shark Tank seeking $185,000 for an 8% stake in their emerging wine empire. Whitney asks if the Sharks are tired of boring wines, complex hand crafted cocktails and drinks with artificial ingredients. They have the solution: Wondry, international award winning wines infused with fruit extracts and crafted with a kick. They have 13.9% alcohol and are a bridge between regular wine and craft cocktails. They’re aged in small batched with their proprietary infusion process. They are some of the 1% of black wine and they’re out to disrupt the wine industry.

The Sharks try their samples. Daymond likes his. Their Sangria Especial is their best seller. The Cran Apple Blanc is their top holiday season wine. The Sharks also taste their Southern Country Cream – their unique spin on cream liquor. Mark likes the Cran Apple. Wondry Wines have double the alcohol of other sweet wines. Kevin says most of the wine sold in the USA is under $14.99 per bottle. Wondry is slightly higher than that at $18.99 because they use premium, all natural organic ingredients.

Where Can You Buy It?

They currently sell in Dallas area Target stores, Total Wine Stores and direct to consumer. Each bottle costs $3.61 to make and they wholesale for $13.31 to retailers. They started the business in August, 2021 – around 11 months ago. In that time they have $250,000 in sales with a $60,000 profit. That’s a 32% operating margin. The couple invested $100,000 of their own money.

Next, Whitney tells the story of how she learned wine making from her uncle and she wanted to recreate it. She went to school to learn wine making. Chaz says he wasn’t supposed to be here. He was raised by a single mom and he went to the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. After that, he moved to Washington DC and worked as a legislative aid. While doing that, he got his Master’s degree at Johns Hopkins, worked for 2 congressmen and went to China to teach at a University. Next, he went to law school at American University in Washington DC and became a corporate lawyer. He moved back to Dallas and works for Texas Instruments. Peter jokingly says Chaz has underachieved.

Who’s In?

Kevin wants to know if the couple has started talking to big box retailers like Costco. While they haven’t talked to Costco, they have engaged Target and Total Wine early in their business. Wondry is the number 2 black owned beverage business nationwide. Daymond likes the couple and the wine, but he doesn’t know anything about the wine business – he’s out. Lori is impressed by the couple but she doesn’t like things with sugar. She likes investing in things she’ll use, Lori’s out.

Peter says he has a wine business in England and it was a tough journey, he’s out. Mark asks what they need. Chaz says they’re wine makers, they need an automated bottling system. They do all their own bottling. Kevin says if he’s going to invest time and resources into a wine business, it’s going to be his own; he’s out. Mark offers $200,000 for 15%. Whitney counters with $250,000 for 15%. Mark counters with $225,000 for 15% and the couple does the deal! Mark tells them they’re amazing and he’s glad they’re local. After the couple leaves, the Sharks toast to Le Chevalier du Testavin.

Wondry Shark Tank Update

The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. After airing, sales jumped 1000%. The company did so many sales they delayed shipping two weeks. By January, 2022, they’d surpassed $1 million in sales. On show night, Mark Tweeted:

“What an amazing company. Glad to be partners !!”

Wondry brought on a full-time brand manager in February, 2023 and they hired six family members to help with “getting wine out of the door.” They also announced Whitney is pregnant with their second child. The deal with Mark officially closed on March 30, 2023. Since then, the company signed a 10-year distribution deal with Southern Glazer’s, a major liquor distributor. The couple credits Mark with helping to seal that deal.

It also has its products in Kroger, Target, Total Wine, Goody Goody, Costco, and Spec’s stores. As of August, 2023, they can ship their wine to 40 states and they’ve increased retail distribution beyond Texas to Arkansas and Georgia. In the next 5 years, the company plans on having their product available nationwide and they believe they’ll be a multi million dollar company.

Update Segment

This business gets an update segment in episode 1507. In the update, they say they went from a local Texas business to a nationally recognized brand overnight. 24 hours after their initial air date, they sold out of every single product. Mark got to work immediately. He connected them with Southern Glazer’s and got them the 10 year distribution deal. The deal gives them access to restaurants, airlines and retailers across the nation. When they pitched in the Tank, they were in 50 retail accounts. Today they’re in nearly 400 retail stores including Sam’s Club, Costco and Target.

They started in a 1400 square foot facility and now they have a 10,000 square foot facility. When they went into the Tank, they’d been in business 11 months and had $250,000 in revenue. Since then, they’ve done $1.1 million in sales. Mark says they had a vision and they went for it. Chaz and Whitney eat, sleep and breathe their business. They took everything they had – $100,000 – and went all in. A video clip shows them introducing their creamy chocolate martini flavor. Mark goes on to say that as black wine makers, they’re a rarity. As a rarity, their community looks up to them and when you compound that with being successful and growing so quickly, they’ll be encouraging entrepreneurs accross the country.

Chaz says there aren’t a lot of people in the wine business who look like them. They have 2 boys now who look up to them. There are also a lot of people in the community who look up to them and see they’re breaking curses from the past that would have held them back, but they persevered. If they walk away with one message, it’s that young people can do it too and create generational wealth for their families. They are living proof that you can break barriers one glass at a time.

The Shark Tank Blog will follow-up on Wondry & Chaz and Whitney Gates as more details become available.