There is a new wine brand hitting shelves across North America that people just seem to not be able to get enough of. STLTO Wine, which was created by Sarah Liberatore, has been selling out at various stores and was even recently used during some Academy Awards high profile events in Hollywood.
To find out more about the wine the stars (Catherine Bach, Richard Grieco, Kate Linder, Maitland Ward, etc.) are even selecting, The Levity Ball sat down with STLTO’s owner Sarah Liberatore to find out more and the backstory behind the brand…
How did you get into the wine business?
I was lucky to grow up in the food and wine industry. From a young age, I travelled to incredible wine expos in Europe. Being immersed in the European wine culture with so many passionate winemakers sealed the deal for me. I knew I wanted to spend my life working with wine.
What makes your assortment of wines different than others out there?
A couple of years ago, at the age of 22, I created a wine brand called STLTO that appeals to women’s taste, packaging and philanthropic sensibilities. The wines are made from start to finish by women in Abruzzo, Italy at my family’s winery.
Sophisticated, Timeless, Lavish Trendy and Outstanding – Just like the amazing women in my life. From the vineyard and cellar to administration and production, STLTO is an all-woman run operation and we celebrate women with my brand by marrying Italy’s best assets – wine and fashion!
The response to my story and the wine has been rewarding and I am so honored that the US market appreciates what I am doing. The support from total strangers especially from females has been overwhelming and humbling. I’ve made friends across the United States. This is something that I will not forget. I plan on meeting each and every one to thank these people personally. It amazes me every time I receive messages, letters and photographs of women drinking the wine together.
How did you come up with your famous stiletto logo and why?
I did some research and discovered that 80% of wine purchasers in North America are women. I took my findings and applied them to Italy’s best assets: its fashion and its wine. I have a passion (OK, an obsession) for shoes, so it was only fitting to call the wine STILETTO – especially because the contemporary stiletto was invented by an Italian. The word STILETTO could’ve been considered gimmicky though, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to ensure that my wine was of excellent quality and that its creation was a totally female experience. From admin work to bottling at the winery and loading the trucks, everyone who is part of my brand was going to be a woman. The brand is (S)ophisticated, (T)imeless, (L)avish, (T)rendy and (O)utstanding, just like all of the amazing women in my life, so we decided to name the wine STLTO. With With zero graphic design skills, I took a pen and paper and drew out the label (I cut the toe off the stiletto by accident but we ended up keeping the flaw) and then had a few prototypes printed.
You recently have been involved with a lot of Hollywood events such as the Oscars… How has the response been from celebs who have tried your products?
The response has been amazing! When I received a phone call from someone in LA telling me that STLTO Wines were going to be used at Oscars I almost fell off my chair. I was so excited that the wines would be present but what was even more amazing was receiving photos, tweets, and messages with celebrities. The biggest surprise for me was when I received a phone call from a celebrity to tell me how much she loved the wines but more importantly my story. I am grateful and flattered.
Which wine of yours do you enjoy the most personally?
I love all three wines: Merlot, Pinot Grigio and Prosecco. I can’t decide which is my favourite. It depends on my mood and what I’m eating. The STLTO Prosecco is perfect for all occasions so I find myself popping more and more bottles these days.
Where do you see your company in five years? Any new kinds coming out?
I hope to expand into other States and global markets. I have a rose wine coming out in the near future and we’ll also be pairing with a charity. I really believe in giving back to the community and supporting causes that are very dear to my heart.
What is your advice to others looking at getting into the wine / beverage industry?
Be real. Know your craft. Be ready for someone bigger (and with more money) to come after you. Be passionate. One thing a competitor can’t take away from you is your passion or your story. Be authentic. You may need to approach the situation differently or find that one key connection. It may cost you blood, sweat and tears but it will be worth it. Stock up on vitamins and Kleenex and make it happen.
Your brand is all about women empowerment… How is it being a female in charge in the wine business, where usually its all men?
It took two years of perseverance to get STLTO wine up and running and made available on the shelves and it’s still a challenge. My job is to make sure the wines are available to different markets and responding to so many requests from people all over the world via social media —this is no small feat! I’m also an avid supporter of women helping women, and I employ this theory in my day to day activities in Italy and North America This was a challenge in Italy where men tend to dominate the industry, but I was adamant that the production of STLTO was a completely female process—from picking the grapes to bottling the wine. I will never forget presenting to a group of 5 male buyers who had smirks on their faces during my presentation. Once I completed my presentation one of the buyers left the meeting room and said “well, good luck with that”. A year later that same male buyer called me and placed their first order after seeing that other retailers were having success with my products. There was another time when I was pouring at a tradeshow. An Italian man looked at me and said “Have you lost your mind?”.
If you weren’t creating this amazing wine, what do you think you would be doing?
To be honest, I have no idea. I’d probably be in school learning how to create wine! 🙂
Where can people buy your products currently?
The wines are available in:
USA: NY Metro, NY upstate, NJ, RI, DE, WI and will soon be available in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Colorado.
You can also purchase the wine online and have it delivered directly to your door (convenient or what?!) on:
CANADA: Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta