Lodi, California (April 14, 2022): STEL+MAR Wines has launched in the U.S., targeting the often-overlooked under-40 age demographic with a collection of highly-rated wines that are approachable in flavor, accessible in price, and relatable in brand.
According to the 2022 State Of The Wine Industry Report, the under 40 demographic comprises approximately 72 million people in the U.S. As this demographic matures in age, palate and consumption tendencies, they are actively searching for brands that are aligned with their personal tastes and values. To appeal to this overlooked and underserved segment of potential wine drinkers, STEL+MAR’s current selection of low-sugar wines are priced at $13.99 per bottle, and feature label artwork designed to resonate with its intended audience. While approachable in flavor and affordable in price, STEL+MAR’s collection is anything but basic, having received high marks from the likes of Wine Enthusiast and Vivino.
Most good entrepreneurship origin stories start with a serendipitous friendship and STEL+MAR’s beginnings are no different. Founders and fellow millennials Chris Noll and Justin Dumitrescu happened to live on the same street and met by chance through their children, Stella and Marcus, who attended the same preschool. Conversations about their shared love of wine, and a common passion for entrepreneurship, led them to discuss the lack of wine brands that appealed to their generation. With the goal of creating affordable, unpretentious, crowd-pleasing wines that spoke to their senses and values, the idea of STEL+MAR was born.
“Similar to other industries, many younger consumers aren’t looking to the same brands as their parents. They care less about status and more about shared experiences with friends as well as finding great value at every level in their lives. That’s what STEL+MAR embodies in every bottle,” commented Dumitrescu. “STEL+MAR hits the trifecta of great tasting wine that is affordable and speaks to a new psychographic of wine drinker,” continued Dumitrescu.
To bring their vision for STEL+MAR to bottle, Chris and Justin approached 40-year veteran winemaker Philip Zorn. Classically trained in the art of winemaking in Germany, Philip moved to Napa, California, in the 1970s and has made wine for some of the most notable wineries up and down the California coast. Philip joined STEL+MAR because he saw value in Chris and Justin’s concept for creating award-winning wines that are approachable in taste and cost.
“I appreciate the vision that Chris and Justin have for STEL+MAR and their unique approach to the industry. More importantly, their focus on all the other elements of building a successful winery allows me to focus exclusively on making the best wine possible,” commented Zorn.
STEL+MAR is launching in the U.S. with three crowd-pleasing wines, approachable in price as well as taste. Its current portfolio includes:
- California Cabernet Sauvignon ($13.99): Full-bodied and deliciously juicy, STEL+MAR’s classically-styled Cabernet Sauvignon was made with grapes grown in select vineyards from Central and North Coast California. The palate explodes with fresh blackberry, caramel, a hint of coffee, and is underpinned by delicate tannins. Ruby red in color with aromas of black currant, cherry, and toasted vanilla. It received a Best Buy award and an 88-point rating from Wine Enthusiast.
- California Chardonnay ($13.99): Full-bodied with bright tropical fruit, butterscotch, and toasty oak spice flavors on the palate. The mouthfeel is rich and rounded with a long finish with layered acidity. Green apple, baked pear, and nutmeg aromas on the nose are the foundation of this crowd-pleasing California Chardonnay, which received an 87-point rating from Wine Enthusiast.
- California Rosé ($13.99): Crisp and refreshing, STEL+MAR’s first California Rose received a score of 91 from the prestigious Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. Now available in the U.S. this is a beautifully dry wine features peach and apricot aromas, hints of strawberry on the palate with refreshing acidity and herbal undertones.
“With STEL+MAR, our goal is to create the best wines possible at an attractive price for the under-40 segment of wine drinkers. These consumers are often misguided into thinking that you have to pay up for great wine. They’re fearful that an under $15 dollar bottle may deliver a lackluster, or worse, an embarrassing experience when shared with friends. With STEL+MAR, we’re proving that you can have a great tasting wine, at a price that you’re willing to take a chance on,” commented Noll.
With an eye on the environment as well as great taste, all of STEL+MAR’s uses light glass bottles in order to lessen the carbon footprint created during the shipping process and sources the majority of its grapes from vineyards certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
Art On The Inside And Out
For Chris and Justin, what goes on the outside of the bottle is as important as what goes on the inside. To bring its fun vintage California vibe to life, STEL+MAR collaborated with artist Stephanie Cheng, whose illustrative designs have been commissioned by such notable artists as Radiohead, Lizzo, and Childish Gambino.
Chris and Justin entrusted Stephanie to highlight the aspirational good times friends seek when sharing a bottle of wine. With images of idyllic 1950s California beach scenery that captures laid-back fun amongst friends, Stephanie’s art runs parallel to the experience STEL+MAR strives to provide in liquid form.
“The art on our labels is as unique to the industry as it is appealing. The majority of the wine labels in the $10-$20 category don’t speak to the younger generation, and if they do, the product inside is often of suspect quality,” Dumitrescu added. “We wanted labels featuring artwork you would want to hang on your walls, and not think at first that it’s a wine label.”
California, To Canada, And Back
While based in California, STEL+MAR was first launched in Canada in 2020, giving the team time to test their brand identity and make refinements before entering the hyper-competitive and much larger U.S. market in 2022.
To ensure distribution success Nationally, STEL+MAR partnered with Integrity Wellness Brands, a leading management services company of adult beverage brands in North America, that represents such innovative brands as Bomani Coffee and Bravus non-alcoholic beer. Integrity Wellness Brands was founded by Nick Gagliardi, former COO of Monster Energy, who previously held the role of president of Artisan Beverage Brands, which managed some of the largest wine brands in the U.S., including E. & J. Gallo, J. Lohr, and 19 Crimes, among many others. Through Integrity Wellness Brands, STEL+MAR is poised to begin widespread distribution to major wine retailers throughout the U.S.
About STEL+MAR Wines
STEL+MAR makes crowd-pleasing and award-winning wines designed to appeal to the under-40 age cohort. The wine brand was built around four key principles: highly-rated wines, attractive price points, modern stand-out label art, and relevant social values. For more information about STEL+MAR, please visit www.stelandmar.com and follow @stelandmar on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.