L’uva Bella Owners Earn Forbes 30 Under 30 Listing

LOWELLVILLE, Ohio – L’uva Bella Winery co-owners Marisa Sergi and Evan Schumann were included in the Food & Drink category of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, which was published online Tuesday morning.

Forbes recognized 600 30 Under 30 honorees in 20 different categories in its 12th annual list, according to the story that was published online.

“War. Inflation. Market crashes. Layoffs. In a terrible, topsy-turvy year, one thing remains constant: Tomorrow’s brightest leaders are turning to entrepreneurship to solve the world’s biggest problems – on their own terms,” Kirstin Stoller, deputy editor of the Forbes Founders team, wrote.

Sergi, who launched her RedHead wine brand while she was a student at Cornell University, purchased L’uva Bella from her parents with her now husband, Schumann, two years ago. The winery distributes its products in nine states and through some 6,500 retail locations, including the Walmart, Kroger and Target chains.

Sergi, L’uva Bella’s chief growth officer, only learned that L’uva Bella had made the list this year after a friend forwarded the link to the list early Tuesday, she said. She had been nominated three times previously, and this year she and Schumann were nominated by one of L’uva Bella’s board members, the chief sales officer at Welch’s Goods Inc. Forbes received about 12,000 nominations this year, she said.

Forbes reached out to L’uva Bella over the summer to submit a secondary application. 

“You don’t find out until the day it’s posted, so I had no inkling until this morning,” she said. “It’s a very secretive process, but we knew we made the final candidacy because one of the reporters reached out in September, asking us to send samples for the final judgment.”

The recognition shows that L’uva Bella is on an “exciting growth trajectory” and “making waves in a cutthroat industry,” she said.

“At the end of the day, revenue is still the purest form of acknowledgment, however the Forbes listing is a huge step in being taking seriously as a wine brand in an ultra-competitive space,” Schumann, L’uva Bella’s president and CEO, said.

“What’s even more exciting is being able to represent Youngstown on the list. It shows that you don’t have to be successful and live in New York City or L.A. or Chicago,” Sergi said. “You can make your own success anywhere. You just have to work at it and be patient. I’ve been building this business since I was 19 years old.”

Being listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 is “a huge honor,” Schumann said.

“Growing up in Ohio, it’s one of those awards that seems so unreachable as a Midwestern kid. It’s something that I personally have been working toward for the last five years, and something Marisa and I have been working towards as a team for the past two years together,” he said.

Being able to be recognized with her husband and partner is “really special,” Sergi said. “It just kind of makes this thing more meaningful that we were able to overcome so many obstacles over the last couple of years and still be able to be chugging on a positive path,” she added.

L’uva Bella is on track for $5.5 million in sales this year, she said. Plans already are in place to expand into Georgia in 2023 and she is working on opportunities for growth in Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. “I’m just trying to line it up at this point,” she said.      

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.