On our December 2020 cover we are proud to have Rodney Foster.
He’s the founder and CEO of Edelheiss Wine and he also stars on the hit show “Marrying Millions”. Instead of hosting a cover release party, because of Covid-19, we decided to have our cover release event virtually via Zoom. The virtual event consisted of myriad of professionals specific fo the wine and spirit industry. The professionals included Rodney Foster, Starling Sanders the editor and founder of Industry Rules, Nicole Lester, Media strategist and dear friend of Rodney, Yaya Rey director of talent relations of Industry Rules, Frantz Conde CEO of Conde Global, Lea Willams wine educator and founder of Let’s Talk Wine, Nafessa writer and content creator, and Keisha founder of a personal chef company.
Collectively, we decided to take this time to ask Rodney Foster questions about his brand and upcoming initiatives:
Q : How did you get started in the Wine and Spirits industry?
RF: First of all I would like to thank Mr. Starling Sanders for having me on the December cover of Industry Rules and thank you everyone for being here. In 2011, while I was on vacation in Switzerland I was recommended to try this wine that was drank warm, called mulled wine. I was able to taste it while I was there. Then, I decided that I wanted to create a better version of it, for the US and also make it organic.
I met some great people there in Switzerland, which were originally from Germany. There, I was introduced to my business partner. He knew of many vineyards in Germany that produced organic wines. When I was back in the states, he sent me a traditional family recipe of the wine I wanted to create, and my mother and I started working with the recipe. My mother recommended me to add Brandi to it, which I did. I then went to Germany with my version of the wine. I met the owner of the vineyard, he tasted my version of the wine and we compared it to the one he had, and then he created one that tasted right in between. I tried it and I thought it tasted great and that became my wine. I wanted to create a name for it that was connected to Switzerland. I heard of this flower Edelweiss that originates from Switzerland, that’s were the name of my brand Edelheiss originated.
Once we had shipped it to the US no one was drinking it warm like it was suppose to be, everyone was drinking it at room temperature like we usually do in the US. So we had to change the marketing up and explain that you can heat this wine up, and you can mix sangrias with it. The red wine has become my top seller.
Creating this brand has taken me places I never thought of like meeting Steve Harvey.
My product has been on the show The View, and Good Morning America. I been on several national publications, several news stations promoting the product. It has been featured on reality TV shows such as the The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Braxton Family Values. My brand has been gaining national attention. it’s all about word of mouth and using my connections to get my brand out there.
Q: What are some of your early influences that got you to the Wine and Spirits industry?
RF: Hard work and determination to make this happen. I didn’t grow up in a wine family, this was more of a business venture. I seen people at nightclubs drinking wine and I wanted my wine to be enjoyed in the nightclubs also. I have a sparkling white wine that taste just like champagne.
Q: We see that your are on the Lifetime’s show Marrying Millions take us through that whole process of creating your own brand to now being in the public eye?
RF: I watched season one and I never knew I would of been on season two.
Everything happened so quickly. When the producers reached out to me, I had as short amount of time to say yes, because we were far behind in filming. They wanted to get my answer real quick and once I agreed to do the show, we went straight to filming. I done reality shows before, I was on the Braxton Family Values, but that had more focused on the Braxtons, this had more of a focus on me so it was different. You have people looking at you for hours. I had never experienced that before, it was a bit intimidating at first, but as time goes by you start getting comfortable around the camera.
Q: Which of your wine’s is your favorite?
RF: I have to say the Riesling, which is not out on the market yet, but I have samples of it.
To me this one is definitely my favorite, the other day I was having pasta and I decided to try the Riesling with it, and I was able to appreciate the flavors of the wine perfectly. It’s not like a sweet Riesling, it’s more like a Chardonnay.
Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced from vision to conception, to the actual creation of the branding and marketing?
RF: Some of the challenges I faced were listening to the wrong people at times.
To give you an example, in 2014, I was working with this young lady, and she wanted me to bring in my product in a short amount of time. So we flew in by Fed-Ex twenty cases of wine. That became my biggest regret, because I paid so much money in shipping. With what I sold, I wasn’t able to recover the amount that I paid for in shipping costs. That was something that made me learn to never ship 20 cases by air again. That was the worse thing that has happened in my company because it cost me so much money.
Q: What makes your wine organic?
RF: All my products are organic, they are not sprayed with any pesticides.
That’s something I definitely wanted to do becoming organic, because we are in the era now where everything is “green”. Everybody is watching what they are putting into their bodies.
Q: Do you have a distributor?
RF: Yes I do, right now I have a distributor in Delaware, and I also have one in Virginia. I just signed with another distributor in Atlanta and soon with one in Texas. We will have a direct sales broker which will allow me to sell in New York, New Jersey, Florida and California. I will be having a meeting with the owner of the company soon. They get brands registered in different states to allow you to sell your products.
Q: Why did you choose not to go direct to consumer?
RF: Before you could come to my website to place orders and I would ship directly. Now I’m working with Reserve Bar, we are finalizing everything with them. Once that happens when you come to my website there will be a link to Reserve Bar, which will take you to the their website and they will handle all the orders and shipping.
Q: With regards to Covid-19, this pandemic how has it impacted your company and the industry?
RF: As far as the pandemic, I’m sorry for what people have been through and are going through.
As I was telling my friend I been blessed during this pandemic. [Across the board], alcohol sales have been up 40%. I’ve been blessed.