Rodney Foster is a modern-day Renaissance man who may be known to wine lovers as the CEO and founder of organic wine brand, Edelheiss Wine, and to television lovers for his starring role on “Marrying Millions.” He has built a multi-million dollar business that is set for continuous growth as the Edelheiss Wine offerings become more diverse and Foster focuses on his career in the entertainment industry as well. I had the chance to catch up with the busy businessman and actor to learn more about his plans for the future.
SS: Give us a little background on Edelheiss Wine.
RF: It’s a German wine manufactured in Germany. Fortified red wine with brandy and spices. It’s traditionally drunk warm. There’s also a sparkling white wine very similar to champagne, as well as a sparkling rose, which is a semi-dry Riesling. All products are organic and all are imported to the USA.
SS: What about next steps for Edelheiss in terms of its product range?
RF: Next step for Edelheiss is expanding the brand with the launch of hemp vodka in Australia. We already know that many women drink wine and we want to start reaching men more with vodka. I’ve always wanted to do something else in the alcohol business. I look at P.Diddy and how he expanded from his own tequila brand to his own water brand, as well.
In terms of hemp vodka, I didn’t want to create a regular vodka because there are so many vodkas already out there. My team and I decided to do a hemp vodka because CBD and hemp markets are so accessible and California is so weed-friendly. Just by chance, my graphic designer is in Australia and he connected me with my producer in Australia. It might be on shelves by the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2021.
SS: With all your success, what are some sacrifices you’ve had to make when first starting Edelheiss?
RF: When I first decided to do this in 2011, I had a Bentley at the time, but I sold it and put the proceeds into starting Edelheiss. I also pulled out all the money from my savings to invest in the business, as well as maxed out credit cards and took out loans to finance everything. It was like I may not eat lunch tomorrow to put money into my business. I borrowed money from my mother, too. Even today, I still don’t have investors or business loans.
I needed money to put into the business because I needed a website, graphic designers, and of course I needed to pay suppliers for bottles, labels, and tops. Not to mention giving people free products to get things out.
SS: What are some specific hurdles you faced in the alcohol or wine industry?
RF: One of the biggest hurdles was finding distribution, a lot of distributor companies don’t like to take on new brands unless you have a foot in the door or you have someone who can vouch
for you, but he’s built relations with people in the industry. Moving forward and expanding to other markets, it’s still sometimes a hurdle because for each state, you need a different distributor. Working on distribution to other states and growing products in other states was definitely an issue.
SS: Given that you’ve overcome all of those hurdles to be successful, what advice would you give to people who want to become entrepreneurs or people just starting out?
RF: On key takeaway for business people and people who want to get into alcohol is to do your own research. I would love for programs to be put in place so that people don’t run into the same issues that I’ve run into. Taking time to find out how you want to produce your products, and how your packaging looks because all of those things go into building a successful brand. Think about where you are going to get the money from?
SS: What’s your overall goal then for Edelheiss Wine and your career as an entertainer?
RF: My goal is to build a company, like how George Clooney did with his tequila; he sold it for one billion. Or how Snoop Dogg is partnering with a wine company that is using his name, or Ryan Renolds with his own gym and his own gin company.
In terms of continuing to grow my entertainment career, I work with a guy in Los Angeles named Shiraz, who works with YouTubers and top Tik Tok celebrities. He has an extensive background of helping people build their brands. With the show I’m on, “Marrying Millionaires,” I’ve done a lot of filming in Los Angeles so I plan to move to Los Angeles to further get into the entertainment and production business.
In the next five years, I see myself producing television shows. I want to be an executive producer of reality shows and I’m working on documentaries that I want to bring to life. Regardless of whatever challenges there may be, everything is well worth it because I get to live a portion of my dreams and realize my self-potential while trying to remain as humble as possible.