Marisa Sergi is an incredible example of a strong, young, female entrepreneur in Cleveland. She has an immense passion for her company, RedHead Wine, and has an 100% hands on approach to her business. She has created everything from her own wine blend, to the label, and more. She also has an extremely active presence on social media and stays trendy with exciting Youtube videos, blog posts, Instagram posts, and tweets.
From an early age, Sergi knew she loved the wine industry. From smashing grapes with her grandfather and father as a child, to helping make wine in fifth grade, she knew her destiny involved wine. Today, she has her own wine brand called RedHead Wine for Millennials and young professionals. Her wine is for “life’s sweet and spicy moments” which is incredibly unique and successful. Her wines truly capture the spirit of the sassy redhead and caters to the exotic flavor needs of younger generations.
Born into the Business
Sergi comes from an Italian family who has made wine for generations. Her grandparents immigrated from Italy to America in 1953. Since they could not pack wine in their suitcase, they decided to make their own wine instead!
In the early 2000s, her father, Frank Sergi started selling fresh winemaking juices to home winemakers. Sergi’s parents, both Frank and Ruth Sergi, also learned the art and science behind winemaking before her dad opened L’uva Bella. L’uva Bella is a winery and bistro in Youngstown, which translates to “the beautiful grape” in Italian.
Sergi went to Cornell University to study the science of winemaking and grape growing within Enology & Viticulture in 2011. As apart of Marisa’s capstone project, she created RedHead Wine to create a new brand within a crowded marketplace. She discovered she was more interested in creating the tastes, label, and packaging herself and became the CEO and Founder of RedHead Brands at 23. Today, Sergi produces RedHead Wines out of the L’uva Bella Winery facilities.
Marisa’s brand is unique for several intriguing reasons. She started her business within both Cleveland and Youngstown. Her business has done so well due to the immense support of both communities. In addition, for both RedHead wines and L’uva Bella wines, the grapes are sourced in California and produced in Ohio. Marisa likes people to understand how important Northeast Ohio is and that it’s important to create businesses locally.
She also stays incredibly involved with a hands-on approach within all steps of the winemaking process. She is present for the arrival of the grapes to the blending and bottling of RedHead Wine.
Her wine is also unique because is marketed towards the sweet and spicy needs within one’s life. This wine has the presence of the smart, sassy, redhead CEO and relates to other young women in their twenties. Her brand also emphasizes the strength and power of women and presents a confident,“take on the world” attitude.
When Sergi heard about Walmart’s U.S. Manufacturing Open Call event, she utilized this opportunity to expand her product reach. Sergi presented her RedHead Red Blend to Walmart’s buyer and was approved to test it in all 150-plus stores in Ohio.
Her wine finished its test period with Walmart and she says overtime, her wine will be available in all WalMarts in Ohio and West Virginia. Sergi’s business is rapidly expanding. The excitement of this gives hope to Sergi that her brand will become a regional and national brand one day. Her brand is also expanding to stores such as Giant Eagle, Buehler’s Fresh Foods and Rivals Sports Grille in Middleburg Heights.
In the future, Sergi also hopes to add more product lines like chocolate and coffee, but she’s staying focused on perfecting her amazing wine for right now.
Vibe of the Wine
Sergi created two unique flavors of wine; RedHead Red Blend and Provence Style Rose. The Redhead Red Blend is a sweet and spicy blend of California Zinfandel and Chilean Carménère. It has notes of ripe plums, cherries, blueberries, and blackberries with a fiery kick at the end. This wine pairs well with acidic and spicy foods including peppered steak, zesty chicken and pizza. This wine also won two awards, two Silver Medals in 2015 and 2016 at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
The Provence Style Rose Wine consists of Malbec, Merlot, and Zinfandel with flavors of ripe strawberries and succulent melon with a refreshing taste. This wine pairs well with crisp salads, fresh tomato-based sauces and rich cheeses such as Havarti, brie or creamy goat cheese.
Strong Social Media Presence
As a Millennial herself, Sergi utilizes her social media presence and digital marketing to the fullest extent. She is doing everything that is trending right now online, including making YouTube videos, tweeting consistently, and having incredible aesthetic on Instagram of her wine bottles.
Her YouTube videos she has created are extremely interesting and on brand to her target market of Millennials. Some examples of her YouTube videos include does wine pair with peeps, flaming hot Cheetos, and pop rocks to how to make wine. She also has a blog that she writes about her adventures traveling to different places with pictures and great content.
Role Model to Young Women
Sergi wants to be a role model for other young women to show them that they should have the confidence to do something unique. Sergi successfully created wine that is different from most wines in order to please the exotic, spicy flavor needs of Millennials. She wants to motivate other women to not be afraid to create something never done before in the food, beverage, or technology industry.
Sergi also emphasizes that she wants her wine to be personal. She does not want Millennials to be intimidated by wine by thinking it is too classy for them to partake in.
Not only has Sergi accomplished so much for someone as young as her, but for an entrepreneur of any age in general she has thrived. When someone is passionate about their business, it is easy to put all their hard work and effort into it. She is an inspiration for young entrepreneurs, especially women, to know that they can accomplish what they are passionate about with hard work and determination.
Marisa Ward is a Digital Marketing and Operations intern at LaunchHouse. She is a communication studies, marketing, and social media student at Ohio University graduating in December 2019.