Laura Larson said the complex and organic nature of wine is one of the things she likes the most about wine.
“It’s a living thing,” she said. “From start to finish, it’s unpredictable, changing, and challenging. I love that in life.”
In 2015, Larson launched her business, Virtual Vines. The company provides direct-to-consumer sales and marketing services for wineries.
Larson and her husband, Brian Doody, also own a wine company called 601 Cellars.
1. How did you get into this business?
I commuted to Northern California from the East Coast while working as a global sales executive in the tech industry in Silicon Valley.
When we bought a home in Napa five years ago and our network of wine industry friends and business owners grew, I discovered there were many challenges as they struggled to integrate effective sales and marketing practices into their hospitality programs.
I took the leap and launched Virtual Vines with hopes my three decades of sales experience could help wineries become more proficient in their efforts to optimize sales and build long-term customer relationships.
I am happy I made the move.
2. How’s business?
It’s busier than I thought it would be — which is great. I’m learning a lot as well.
3. What’s it like working with wine compared to technology?
Wine is a lot more fun to sell.
4. What’s your favorite thing about having your own business?
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I like being able to create, build and execute on my own strategies versus a company vision. I can pivot on a dime and don’t have to have a bunch of people involved in making decisions.
5. What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Since my services are sometimes most needed by smaller wineries, I get offers to work for trade. Since I am a self-proclaimed “vinophile” oftentimes this is a very hard decision!
6. What’s on your to-do list?
I love wine theory and have explored many of the great wine regions around the world. New Zealand and Australia are next on my list.
7. Who do you most admire in the business world?
I am an Elon Musk groupie. His genius dates him back to an inventor at age 10 and after surviving a rough childhood, has become one this generation’s most innovative visionaries for the betterment of our planet … and he puts his money where his mouth is.
8. If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
Having a comfortable, established network in the wine business community. After over 25 years building a network in a prior industry, it’s hard to start over from scratch!
9. What was your childhood ambition?
To be a backup singer for the Rolling Stones.
10. Favorite Rolling Stones song?
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”