We had the good fortune of connecting with Jamie Cegelski-Gaebe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jamie, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work life balance is very very important to me. My late father was very successful in business, but I saw that he was always stressed or constantly traveling for work. While this definitely drove an entrepreneurial spirit into me, it indirectly taught me the importance of having fun and a flexible work-life balance.
When my father passed in 2010 to Lymphoma, I knew that a standard 9-5 wasn’t in my future. Instead I wanted to take something we both loved and build a business out of it. And that’s really what drove me to start Priority Wine Pass. I never expected my business to be the success that it is today. I genuinely set out to help people find amazing wineries and taste incredible wines (at great prices) and things have really snowballed from there.
I’ve had people ask me why I haven’t grown the business faster or work more to get it off the ground and the truth is, I’ve tried to keep a modest tempo focusing on our customers. Plus I don’t want to suck all the fun out of it. I’d much rather have more freedom for myself and my family. If you find you can’t do that then its a reminder to make a change. I don’t want to miss out on any special moments. As my dad always said, “None of us are getting out here alive. So live your life knowing that”.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business started as a hobby that turned into a full time job and eventually into a company that supports others. For those who are not familiar with us, Priority Wine Pass is all about connecting people with world-class wine tasting experiences (and saving them money while they’re at it).
We offer a wine tasting pass that gets people discounts and elevated tasting at over 400 wineries on the west coast. Basically people buy the pass and save on their tasting trips. Since wine tasting can get quite pricey, especially in regions like Napa and Sonoma ($25-$50 per tasting), our card helps lower the barrier of entry with stuff like 2 for 1 and free tastings. This means people get to experience more and have money left over to buy wine after their tasting. We also go the extra mile by offering a concierge service that helps match people with wineries based on their preferences. I’m proud of the fact that this has helped the company grow every year including 2020, which has presented the most unexpected challenges.
In March of 2020, Priority Wine Pass expanded its services to include virtual wine tasting experiences. Fortunately we were able to leverage our network of wineries from the wine pass and curate some of the best virtual wine tasting experiences in one place. We now service corporate clients or private groups looking for high-end virtual wine tasting experiences.
I’m happy to say that these virtual tastings have been beyond successful and we are now leaders within this new niche market. Since we can customize everything and we use our same model of matching our customers to wineries we’ve found it has really paid off. We currently have over 20 virtual wine tasting partners in the US, Canada, and Europe and have an experience to fit nearly every need. We’ve also had the joy of sharing these incredible wine tasting experiences with some of the top companies in the world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Living in Napa makes this a bit of a challenge as there are so many amazing places to visit and things to do. I’m just going to list a few things out that are top of mind. For breakfast/brunch try the Boon Fly Cafe or Napa Valley Bistro. For lunch I love The Market, Angele, or Farmstead. For Happy Hour try Auberge. For dinner try Eikos, Bistro Jeanty, Bottega, Harvest Table, or La Toque. For wineries I highly recommend Davies Estate Caviar brunch (it is heaven..and it was my first experience with caviar and now I’m hooked).
In terms of things to do, park at Frank Family winery and walk to Bothe national park where you can hike along the river amongst redwoods. Of course you’ll want to walk back to Frank Family to enjoy some bubbles and a picnic lunch. If you want to spoil yourself do a tasting and Spa Mud Bath experience at Solage. You can then use the pool after. I also recommend the massage at The Spa at The Estate Yountville.
If you’re into more active outings, try biking from downtown Napa to Yountville on the Vine Trail and do a tasting at JCB. You could even grab lunch at La Calenda. An even more adventurous trip would be Paddleboarding or Kayaking the Napa River.
Last, if you’re headed to town I truly recommend our Wine Pass. The service that comes with it means you’ll get access to our concierge (Jamie Ng) who can help answer all your questions. She’ll also be able to provide even more recommendations from what I’ve listed here.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
People that I give a shout out to: Nolan my business partner at Priority Wine Pass (and cousin), my husband who has been my incredible (and free) executive assistant and support, Gary Ng (napatouristguide.com) who has been an amazing partner, Joey my brother in-law, my sisters Jackie, Julie, Jodie, and my mom Wendi (she wore an easter bunny costume at a wine event to raise awareness… . nailed it!). My cousins Morgan, Henry, Destin, and Naty (my amazing wine model!). Pretty much my entire family deserves a shout out as well as my friends who have helped me and supported me along the way. Most importantly though a huge shout out to my dad.
Courtesy of @prioritywinepass 🙂