We had the good fortune of connecting with Sam Lando and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sam, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The first 20 years of my career in the wine industry was spent climbing the corporate ladder and growing into executive roles with small luxury focused (families owned) wine brands. One common theme entered time after time. Regardless how how well I did my job or role, I was never truly in charge of my future…corporate restructuring, or small brands wanting to recapitalize with large private equity firms shakes up and restructures everything. Without fail, every time. It became apparent that if I wasn’t firmly in control “as an owner” my future would always be somewhat rudderless. I had always wanted to have my own wine brand and was planning to do so for many years as I accumulated knowledge in all disciplines. But it wasn’t until the constant change and discomfort with what I was doing for those many years prior…illuminated the next steps forward.
What should our readers know about your business?
Nothing about what we are doing today or over the past four years has been easy. Actually, the last four years are some of the most challenging I’ve experienced in 28 years of my industry. We own a small, name sake wine brand, LANDO Wines. We focus on creating intense, yet elegant (truly delicious) Pinot Noir & Chardonnays from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, and soon from the Sta Rita Hills appellations. We offer our wines for sale twice a year, 80 percent of them direct-to-consumers to those folks who join our mailing list from our website. It’s not like a club where folks are automatically charged and shipped wine. Due to our small production, I allocate each bottle of wine we produce to our mailing list friends twice a year. These allocations grow or shrink based on their past purchases. Other than a hand full of specialty retailers in CA and select restaurants (in Ca and in 7 other states), this how I have been best able to be fair and even in how we sell our wines. I feel that we significantly over deliver in quality vs. the price our mailing list friend pay for the wines. And it’s pretty evident when you see our bottles at restaurants for over $100. But the other part of what we do that’s different is, we really truly enjoy people. New friends and old friends. This entire thing we do is about relationships. We wouldn’t be in business today without the love and support of the special folks across the country who purchase our wines twice a year. And we all communicate, on a regular basis. When people call or email, they talk to me or my wife. We will grow and actually have employees at some point, but everything we do is about being real, genuine, honest, and authentic. I really believe that sets us apart from many other brands/companies.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ah, this is a great one. I would have them stay at the Montage in Healdsburg. They would visit our little winery (LANDO Wines) in Windsor (middle of the Russian River Valley). Then they would visit Martinelli Winery a little farther south. Then, back up to Healdsburg for a visit with my dear friends at Coursey Graves winery. And finally, ending with our friends at Flambeaux Winery (their estate in the Dry Creek Valley). After a short freshen up session, we would enjoy a round of pre dinner drinks on the third level, open air bar at the top of the Matheson restaurant (opening in late spring) overlooking the Healdsburg square. Shortly there after, we would take a quick walk to Valette restaurant for a wonderfully prepared meal. Ah, sounds like a perfect day to me. If you’ve got more than a day, drop me an email. We have friends who come from all over the country to enjoy the bounty of Sonoma County – from the coast the wine country. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Absolutely. My mentor at Beringer Wine Estates (way back when), Janelle Thompson. She was a VP of Marketing for over 30 years there and was instrumental in recruiting me from my prior company and very instrumental in grooming me into executive level thinking and management. Once we transacted the company, we all had contracts to remain with the new company for a year. Once her term was up, she took off and never looked back. She’s not connected to any technology and I have no idea where she is today. Hopefully, enjoying a peaceful retirement and enjoying great wine/food with her husband.
Linkedin: Sam Lando