Alex Clifford got the idea for his business, Grape Crate, about six months ago while sitting on a bench in Logan Circle.
His good friend, Zach Wilson, expressed his extreme frustration with walking into a wine shop and blindly selecting a bottle of wine.
“He said to me, ‘You know, the thing I hate about wine is I have no idea if I am going to get a good bottle or a crappy bottle when I buy something at the store,'” relayed Clifford, a Logan Circle local and longtime DC resident.
Wilson’s comment to Clifford ignited a spark in Clifford, and he immediately began working on his wine business, which launched one week ago.
Grape Crate’s flagship product is a curated wine subscription with an educational and interactive component. Each “wine box” contains 12 bottles of wine.
Customers drink the wine, then log on to the interactive app and rate the wine, based on their taste preferences. The app also houses a host of educational information on the selected wine, from the subtle tastes one might experience to the grape origin and region of the wine.
The information from each customer’s wine rating is then used to select the next crate.
“I created Grape Crate so that you don’t have to play roulette with wine anymore,” said Clifford. “Each time, you know you are getting a good bottle and that it’s something you’ll like.”
Clifford comes from a wine obsessed family, so it seems natural that he chose to start a business that caters to individuals’ interest in wine. His sister is a chef at a DC restaurant and his mother is a wine teacher and editor. In fact, Clifford’s mother, who has a “serious wine resume,” is on the panel to hand-select the bottles for the quarterly crates. Others on Clifford’s panel include local bar managers and sommeliers.
Grape Crate is currently accepting its first batch of orders – crates that Clifford will deliver personally to each customer.
“It’s all about interacting with the customer and getting feedback,” said Clifford, who also said he is very excited to meet his first customers.
Each “crate” is $200 (or about $16 per bottle, including education and customization) and can be ordered online. Clifford plans to launch nationally in March, but for now is just focused on the District.