RedHead Wine Expands Retail Distribution

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – RedHead Wine’s winemaker is pleased with how her partnership with the Walmart retail chain is working out.

Now Marisa Sergi, the CEO of Lowellville-based RedHead Brands Wine, is sharing the story of that relationship with other communities to promote Walmart’s Investing in American Jobs Initiative, even as she prepares to expand her brand’s footprint and add a third wine to her company’s offerings.

RedHead was chosen in June 2017 to participate in the initiative, Walmart’s commitment to purchase $250 billion worth of products from U.S. manufacturers to support American jobs by 2023. RedHead is in 60 of the 153 Walmarts that are licensed to sell wine and liquor in Ohio.

Last week, she participated in the first of several supplier showcases that will take place over the next 14 weeks to promote the retailer’s effort to preserve and create U.S. jobs by supporting domestic manufacturing. RedHead was one of three Ohio vendors that participated in the Aug. 29 event at the Georgesville Walmart.

Customers at retail outlets are looking for U.S.-made products, Sergi said at the Austintown Walmart, one of her wine’s better-selling locations for the retailer. “It’s really great to be able to showcase that Redhead is made in the United States,” she said. RedHead’s grapes are from California and the corks, bottles and shrink-wraps all are sourced domestically as well.

“People really like to hear that,” she added.

Sergi was chosen to participate in last week’s event following a series of conversations with suppliers to vet which ones would make the best fit for the Georgesville showcase, Charles Crowson, senior manager of national media relations for Walmart Inc., said.

When meeting Sergi, “One of the things that sticks with you immediately is her enthusiasm for her product. She’s a highly intelligent young woman who is dedicated to her craft,” Crowson remarked.  “She is very enthusiastic and also is someone who really believes in what she is doing and what she is working for. That is the entrepreneurial spirit that we love.”

Sales through Walmart represent 35% of RedHead’s sales, Sergi reported. Last year, the brand sold 15,000 bottles of wine total, and this year she projects sales to reach 35,000 bottles.

In 2019, Sergi said, she will introduce a third brand to the current RedHead Blend and RedHead Rose — Redhead Platinum, a white wine.

“I really haven’t announced it yet, but I’m excited,” she said. “A lot of my customers have requested a white wine so I’m going to give that a go. I’m really looking forward to introducing that to the market.” She anticipated that Platinum will be available late spring.

Sergi said she is looking to grow beyond the 330 total retail outlets where she distributes now, including adding another 40 Walmarts by the end of 2018.

Expanding to more Ohio Walmarts is a matter of meeting with store managers to present the product to them, she said.

“As a locally owned business, I’m trying to expand organically,” she continued. “I don’t want to conquer the whole state without knowing that I have the perfect distribution network to make sure that every store is being serviced with great customer service and understand that their needs are being met.”

Sergi, in addition to expanding her reach within Walmart – she wants to add another 40 stores by the end of the year – is looking to grow beyond the 330 total retail outlets where she distributes now.

Earlier this year, RedHead Brands signed a distribution contract with Wine and Beverage Merchants, a Weirton, W. Va., distributor.  Wine and Beverage Merchants has distributed RedHead for about six months, Nick Latousakis, president, reported.

“We were hearing good things about the RedHead wines,” from Superior Beverage Group, a northeastern Ohio distributor, Latousakis said. “A lot of times how you find out about brands that have legs are through distributorships that you’re acquaintances with,” he said.

“Sales are growing” and response to the brand has been good, he reported. He sells about 20 to 25 cases each month.

RedHead also has opportunities to expand into Pennsylvania – where RedHead Brands just was awarded a distribution license – and Michigan, Sergi reported.

Achieving her present level of success was “definitely the plan” but Sergi said she also is surprised to be here.

“I don’t expect opportunities,” she said. “I’m grateful for them so being able to have had this longstanding relationship with Walmart has been really nice.”

Pictured: Marisa Sergi, the CEO of Lowellville-based RedHead Brands Wine.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.