BEHIND THE SCENES: Students who Wine

Cal Poly is unique in that it is tightly nestled into a booming wine industry that is only expanding each quarter. This provides students with the unique opportunity to get excellent hands-on experience that is not nearly as available at other universities.

The local industry is most likely a strong catalyst for many of the fresh ideas and ambitions that have come from students in recent years. One recent student success came from Alex Broedlow and Emily Rosa who started “Rock the Vine” in 2017 for class credit. The idea was to marry the charm of a farmer’s market with the skills of local winemakers who do not own wineries or tasting rooms. Their idea proved successful, and continued in 2018 with much support from SLO Brew.

Now, there is a group of students who have just begun their own unique wine brand: Blank Wines. They are currently awaiting the arrival of their first bottle, a Pinot Noir.

These students are Josh Martin, Lars Williamson, and Nicholas Fantozzi.

The idea for Blank Wines started on a late night a year and a half ago in a garage when Martin and Williamson decided to buy grapes on a whim. After they purchased the grapes, they only had three days to acquire all of the other resources in order to create their first wine.

Nicholas Fantozzi joined the group in the September of 2018, and that is when the idea for the brand hit the ground running. They want to make the wine production process easy for consumers to understand.

“I think that wine has a lot of complicated terms behind it and that scares a lot of consumers away,” Fantozzi said. “We think through being transparent with our consumers and making it simplified it will teach them some of these terms and maybe make them enjoy it a little bit more and get rid of that learning curve.”

They also want to make wine more accessible to the younger generations through an online directed consumer platform that will make their brand unique.

“One way we want to do this is to have a clean and seamless online experience where we can tell people more about the wine online and offer a tasting test online,” Williamson said. “Tasting online would tell the consumer what kind of wine they’d like based on filling out taste preferences.”

The trio hopes to continue their winemaking conglomeration well after their graduation in June.

Tina Raeisi and Connor McCarthy tackled the interactive portion for this story, capturing some of the beautiful scenery at a local winery.

“It was so cool to hear Cal Poly’s ‘Learn by Doing’ philosophy in action,” McCarthy said. “This project demonstrates the power of creativity. There were so many opportunities to get great multimedia content.”

“It was so inspiring to see other students so passionate about a start-up company aimed at younger audiences who love wine,” Raeisi said. “We were able to get some great photos and video.”

Maddy Copley created the video. The social video showed Josh Martin explaining a bit of the history of Blank Wines, as well as their vision for the brand. The main video also showed Josh Martin explaining Blank Wines, but in more depth.

“It was awesome interviewing the Blank Wines team,” Copley said. “They answered all of our questions far more in depth than I could have hoped. Plus, wineries are super visually appealing for a video so that was great.”

Nicole Thorpe wrote the story, and had a similar experience with the team as Copley did.

“The Blank Wines team was very easy to work with and helpful in terms of video, photo and text elements,” Thorpe said.