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The Cal Poly approach: Twin Pomegranates Wine

Published January 19, 2011

FresnoFamous.com by Famous Whitewater

Nick and Brian Davis’ business approach, the one Twin Pomegranates was built on, is the same one that got them through college — what Nick calls the Cal Poly approach.

"You learn by doing."

So maybe you don’t know, even with a degree in enology, exactly how to turn pomegranates into a wine that’s worth tasting. Grapes are easy enough. People have been doing that for 6,000 years. There are books on the subject, tons of research. Pomegranates? That’s something new.

Maybe you don’t know about bottle shapes and punt sizes and once that is decided, how you’d even go about getting those bottles into stores, let alone on the shelves.

You just figure it out.

It’s what the brothers —they’re twins— have been doing since they started Twin Pomegranates as a virtual wine facility in 2008. The company’s wine is now in 70 locations across California and by the end of February will be in every Savemart and Lucky supermarket in the state. You can get a taste this Sunday, when the brothers partner up with chef Paul Palomino for a wine pairing event. Tickets for the four-course meal are $50 per person. Call 237-1033 for details.

To be straight, they didn’t come to the idea totally blind. Both brothers graduated from Cal Poly—Nick has a degree enology/viticulture and Brian in marketing—and they both knew farming. They’re fourth generation, in a family that grows almonds and wine grapes and … pomegranates. Their grandpa farms 138 acres of pomegranates in Madera. They had always planned on coming home and farming.

With wine, they knew were walking into a highly competitive business and to be successful they would need marketing dollars, which would be hard to come by. Pomegranates – with all of its anti-oxidant power—would give them instant attention. If they could figure out how to make it taste great and keep it priced below $15.

This isn’t the typical business model for a winery. Most have a tasting room, where they might make 50% of their sales, Nick says. That's retail. Twin Pomegranates works with a custom crush winery, and doesn’t have that luxury. They’re forced into wholesale, doing what's called direct-store delivery. Essentially, the brothers serve as their own distributors. 

They hadn't planned it that way. It was learned by doing. They went to Savemart in Madera and asked, point blank, if the store would sell their wine. They were told they’d have to meet with the company’s wine buyer, who—after some phone tag—agreed to give them 15 minutes.

“We left 45 minutes later and we were in 22 stores.”

It’s continued from there. They are huge on Facebook and Twitter. They’ve taken out slick print ads and sponsored music events — like the Marcy’s Playground show Feb. 5 at Swiggs. They partnered with other local upstarts, like Frosted Cakery and the ladies at the website Fashionably Bombed —anything to get the name and idea in front of people.

“We get consumers to the stores," Nick says. "It’s a numbers game."

When he says they don’t know what they’re doing, you get the point, but think he’s mostly being humble. After all, he knows it’s a sensitive market, that $2 can make a world of difference when people are standing in the wine aisle at the store. He knows that to build a brand you have to do one thing and do it well.

For the rest, he references Warren Buffet.

“They asked him how he became such a success and he said, ‘I just make more mistakes.’ You just want to get those mistakes behind you.”

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