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Jamie Cegelski

Jamie Cegelski is the founder of Priority Wine Pass. 

Are you looking for a gift for the wine-lover in your life? I have an idea for you: a Priority Wine Pass card.

Priority Wine Pass is a membership program that gives you access to customized offers for wine tasting experiences.

The Priority Wine Pass reminds me of my Priority Pass that I use when I travel. My membership card gives me access to airport lounges around the world. So even when I am traveling in economy, I feel special when I can walk into a lounge where I can relax and get something complimentary to eat and drink. Who wouldn’t want a little something extra to make their experience a bit more exclusive than the next person’s? What Priority Pass does for the traveler, Priority Wine Pass does for the wine-lover.

Priority Wine Pass was started by Jamie Cegelski in 2012. Jamie grew up in the East Bay and began her career working in overseas in international business for Slime Tire Sealant.

Her father, James Cegelski, was looking to start a private equity firm and Jamie wanted to work for him. He told her that she would have to get her MBA, so she began studying for it in Dubai. (She was living abroad at the time.) Her father became ill, so she moved back to the U.S. and continued her studies in Boston, and ultimately finished in Shanghai.

Her father passed away in 2010, and she returned home to help her mom. The timing was not great. It was in the midst of the financial crisis and with her only dream to work with her dad, Jamie lacked enthusiasm for anything else.

She began working for a marketing company in which she would promote different brands and promotions to companies and consumers. That job took her to Napa to work the Twitter booth at the first Napa Valley Film Festival. After the film festival, Jamie and her mom drove around Napa and her idea for Priority Pass began to shape, in loving memory of her father, who had dreamed of owning a winery and creating a wine that he loved. Her idea was to connect wineries and customers. They walked into Andretti Winery for a tasting and she left with her first client.

Due to the financial crisis, business was down and wineries were hurting for business. Wineries needed visitors and Jamie had a list of corporate employees that she could market to. Within two months, she had 100 wineries signed up. Today, the Priority Wine Pass has been rated the number 1 wine tasting experience by BevMo.

A Priority Wine Pass offers complimentary, discounted and elevated wine tastings at more than 400 wineries in California, Oregon and Washington. Typically, a visit to a winery can include a winery tour, a flight of wine and perhaps a reserved tasting planned in advance. The more unique experiences are usually saved for wine club members. However, there are only so many wine clubs that one can manage being a member of at a time and then you might feel obligated to only return to those same wineries.

A Priority Wine Pass currently sells for $60 and is valid for one year from the date of purchase. With Priority Wine Pass, you can visit any of the participating wineries as many times as you like. The customized offerings are not available to the public and include 2-for-1 tastings, discounts, barrel tastings, meeting the winemaker and special tours. The membership also includes hotel, transportation and restaurant discounts and Priority Wine Pass also provides a concierge-type service for members, curating customized, personalized wine tasting itineraries for clients.

The Priority Wine Pass will make any wine lover feel just a little bit more special on their next wine-tasting outing.

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Allison Levine is owner of Please The Palate, a marketing and event-planning agency. A freelance writer, she contributes to numerous publications while eating and drinking her way around the world. Allison is also the host of the wine podcast Wine Soundtrack USA. Contact her at allison@pleasethepalate.com

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