Valerie Evans

San Jose, California, United States

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The Grapevine

I was looking for a new career during the mortgage crisis of 2007 and took a wine certification class. After interning at my local wine bar, The Grapevine, I knew this was for me! The owner was getting ready to retire, so I asked her to sell the business to me. The rest is history!

I love owning a business in the community I live in. I see my customers around town all the time. We know each other’s names. I really feel like I’m adding to my community and I love the personal aspect of the business.

I opened in January 2008 and have 12 employees in a historical downtown district of San Jose, California. Our annual sales are between $500,000-$600,000.

Here’s just a bit of what we can cover in our PivotPlanet session(s):
• How to run a successful wine bar/bistro by choosing the right location based on surrounding demographics
• Understanding the products you serve by tapping customer service training channels within the wine and culinary industries
• Knowledge of appropriate licenses, permits, and certifications required for a successful business
• Understanding what programs work best for business bookkeeping and the importance of having a good CPA on your side.
• Marketing your business. Importance of social media and community awareness. Discuss pros and cons of group discounts and coupons
• And anything else you want to ask about the profession I love!

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After 20 years in the mortgage lending business, I started to look into other career options. I’d always loved wine, so I went back to school to learn more about this industry. Wine and cheese are my passion and I take great pride in educating my customers about the unique boutique wines and cheeses that we sell.

I’ve been a mortgage broker since the early 1990’s and continue that business while I run my wine bar. Sometimes it’s hard to do both, but I like having the security and diversity of two very different full-time professions.

The Grapevine is more than just a wine bar, it’s a community destination where people gather to enjoy an afternoon or evening out with friends. I love that I provide the space for them to gather.

This can be a really fun job. We’ve come up with some unique events that both our customers and staff love.

We’ve been voted "Best Wine Bar" the last four years by our local paper and have won numerous other mentions, including “Best Wine Bar of the Silicon Valley” by the Mercury News and “Best Cheese Shop” by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2009. I was also awarded Woman Entrepreneur of the year in 2011 by the Woman’s Initiative.

I’ve learned a few things in my years in business and I’m happy to share those with you. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is the importance of hiring good people. Staff retention is so important to customers.

The other thing that is vital for you to know is your product. After all, if you don’t know it, you can’t sell it. I can help you find the best resources for training to learn what you need to know to open your own wine bar.