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With lean and mean roots, Cellar Angels opened its proverbial doors with all the drama and vigor of a sapling grapevine pushing through terra firma. We began with no professional money, relying heavily on a bootstrap model of raising start-up funds through the support of friends, family, and fellow wine enthusiasts. Despite the harrowing maze of paperwork, countless hours spent with Illinois and California-based legal experts, and a hysterically simple, yet pivotal call with California Alcohol Beverage Control, our time spent in launch-mode was not for naught. Throughout, we were given the life-shaping gift of spending time focused on our truest passion: traveling through Northern California’s Napa and Sonoma counties looking for vintners’ treasures.
And treasures did we find! After all, after breaking through rocky soil and pushing past arid clay, grape vines can thrive, and produce some of the world’s sweetest, most versatile fruit. And that sweetness and abundance is the fortune we found in launching Cellar Angels. We attribute our success to three equally necessary ingredients: 1) our 20-year history wine country relationship building, 2) our eagerness to provide a channel for wine artisans to share their craft with enthusiasts living outside of Napa and Sonoma, and 3) and perhaps the most important, our tastemaking customers who yearn to support both small-batch producers and hard-working charitable organizations.
Wine embodies togetherness. It is the liquid spirit of community, of fraternity, of a tie that binds. You open a bottle to share with friends, and discover the versatility of an ancient and much-loved fruit, the unique personality of the craftsman that turn grapes to wine, and the history that extends far into the annals of cuisine and culture.
In Napa alone, there are 1,000 unique wine producers. A whopping 700 of them are limited production vintners—crafting wine you’ll never, ever find in your average wine shop—each with a different grape-laden, deliciously nuanced story to tell. And because we believe these distinctive producers are creating drinkable art that simply must be shared, Cellar Angels hand picks the most gorgeous bottles from each of these wineries and makes them accessible to you through our Wine Club and Marketplace. Each of the vineyard-to-bottle selections you receive from Cellar Angels is shipped by the producer, themselves, directly to your door with love from wine country to you.
A wine lover from way back, Martin Cody began his career in sales, rewarding work which shaped his understanding of the importance of rigorous, thoughtful customer service. Martin and his wife Denise, Chief Operating Angel of Cellar Angels, pivoted their love affair with wine into their first vino-venture; a retail brick and mortar wine shop in Chicago. The store became a much-loved, well trodden institution in the city. Still, in 2013, Martin and Denise sold it to chase their dream of providing the finest, least known, independent producers in the country a digital marketplace to share their talents and artistry with wine enthusiasts.
Having founded three companies prior to founding Cellar Angels, Martin has a visionary entrepreneurial spirit, and built an extensive Rolodex of national wine industry contacts that continue to support Cellar Angels’ growth. His passion for both the craft of winemaking, and his firm belief in the importance of developing and shaping small businesses, have allowed Cellar Angels to thrive and fill a much-needed void in the market.
Compassionate care is a value that was organically, and perfectly, transferable for Denise Smith when she launched Cellar Angels with Martin. As a 20 year nursing veteran and former Director of Nursing, Denise built a career on walking a fine balance between empathetic listening and swift, tactical action, which is why she is the perfect COO for Cellar Angels. Customers, wine producers, and partnering charitable organizations all benefit from Denise’s core strengths: workflow efficiency, meticulous organizational talents, and empowering leadership skills.
Denise completed Goldman Sachs’ 10K Small Businesses Program, and received the Corporate Woman of Achievement Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Her passion for wine and wine culture, coupled with her keen business instinct prove to be the backbone of Cellar Angels’ success. Knowing that navigating the wine business means marrying work and play, Denise enjoys time spent outdoors smelling the roses (and grapes), traveling, and perfecting pairing recipes in the kitchen.