Women in Wine: Jessica Hershfield of Just Enough Wines

Women in Wine: Jessica Hershfield of Just Enough Wines

Tell me a little bit about how your first year launching has been!
It’s really exciting and really fun!  It almost felt somewhat surreal for a very long time for me, but actually holding the cans and seeing orders and shipping them out, makes it very real.  It’s been great

So you’re coming from a tech background, right?
Yes! My whole career up until this venture has been in tech, mostly around marketing and product.

I was tired of working for someone else and I really wanted to do something that followed my passions and things that I was actually interested in doing on a day-to-day basis. So, that’s when I decided to go into wine, which most people would never recommend doing, but I thought it’d be a fun experience.

Why wine? Why was that the route you decided to go, especially knowing the challenges?
Wine has always been something that I have really loved and has definitely been part of my routine as an adult. I appreciate that glass of wine at the end of the day.

I also really love the ubiquitous nature of wine in that you can drink it on the couch and Netflix and chill, but then get all dressed up and go to a nice wine dinner or something like that. There are so many avenues you can explore with wine.

I went into canned wine in particular because I was trying to solve a case that I was constantly running into, where I would open a bottle and either drink too much of it and feel bad the next day or not finish it, and it would go bad. My goal was to find a smaller format to solve that problem for myself.

When I first looked into this, there weren’t very many canned wine options on the market. And the wine I was finding was either in a pretty big can (equal to more than half a bottle), or the quality of the wine was pretty crappy. So, I really focused on making a wine that I enjoyed drinking, that was in a smaller format.

What wine does your line consist of?
We’re launching with a Chardonnay from Willamette Valley in Oregon and a Pinot Noir from Edna Valley in the central coast of California.

What do you think would be the best way to enjoy your wines? Would you pour it into a glass at home or just drink it straight out of the can? 
I’ve done both! There are times where I will pour it into a glass, like if I’m at home and cooking dinner, or if I want to start with white and then switch to red, or something like that. But, it’s also nice that if you’re outside having a picnic, you can just drink it straight from the can. So, I’ve definitely done both.

I love that it’s a lot more versatile than a bottle.
Exactly! No bottle openers are needed!  And beyond versatility, we are really trying to change the perception of canned wine. Canned wine is assumed to be low-quality wine. With our wines, we’re very practically going after the higher quality, premium aspect of it. Also, all of our wines are vintage and AVA specific, so we’re really trying to portray that as well.

Why did you choose those two varietals and locations?
I learned a lot about the bulk wine market in the last couple of months. It’s very interesting. And from that, I decided that I wanted to do a white and a red to really capture both of those experiences.

For the Chardonnay, I’m not a huge oaky, traditional Napa, Chardonnay fan. Our Chardonnay is much more old-world style. It’s much crisper and has a lot less oak, which follows more of that traditional Oregon style. For the Pinot, I wanted to start with a lighter-bodied red. Especially for the beginning of this, I was looking for something a little bit more fruit-forward, that has a lighter body.  I’m excited to introduce a cab, or something similar, at some point, but I think people are still trying to get used to canned wine. So, it just made sense to go with something lighter, that you could enjoy without having that “punch you in the face” flavor.

What’s been your biggest learning obstacle with the transition from a full-time tech job, to the wine industry?
I think the biggest obstacle for me when going into wine is that the wine industry moves much slower than tech. Which is very expected, but a learning curve for me. In tech, companies are focused on fast growth, and moving at a fast pace, whereas the wine industry is much more relationship-based and just very chill.

It’s something that you really have to get used to. I’m learning to really appreciate the patience and the art that goes into winemaking, as opposed to the “just get it done as fast as you possibly can” type of mindset that comes with tech. So, it’s completely different night and day.

Would you say that you’re bringing a tech approach to this brand?
Yeah, totally. The wine industry is still fairly antiquated, and introducing technology into this is a whole different experience. You just get so many different levels of acceptance when it comes to how we’re doing things, tech-wise.

For me, I’ve been able to see the fast-paced growth of Uber, for example, firsthand. They really focused on the tech enablement behind everything that they did. So, for my brand, I’m doing the same and focusing on things like Shopify, and Door Dash. We’re also really utilizing social media, and paid ads. I feel this type of marketing is something that a lot of wineries don’t necessarily do, and I hope that will give us an advantage.

What is one piece of advice you wish you could tell your younger self?
Great question!  I would tell my younger self to shy away from the imposter syndrome that I’ve had for a very long time.

I noticed that in my jobs, I would work my way up and do the best job I possibly could to the point where I would earn promotions and things like that. But, I always felt like I was not deserving of it, or that I was faking it, and then when I’d make it, I’d be like, “oh wait, how did I do that?”. And that was very much imposter syndrome taking over. And in that, not thinking I had the skills, or the confidence really held me back for a long time in starting this business. 

I think it’s actually an important message even now, especially for women. There are a lot of male-dominated industries, including the wine industry. So it’s so important to push to have the confidence to step up and, and believe that we can do what we want to do and that what we’re doing and contributing to this industry is really important.

Is there anything else that you’d like me to include?
I think the only thing that we haven’t really talked about, that I’d like to dive into a little bit more is the environmental impact of cans.

There’s a way less carbon footprint with cans than there is with glass bottles. It’s something that I had no idea about when I first went into this. But, glass bottles are actually one of the biggest impacts on the environment from the wine industry, because glass is actually pretty hard to recycle. There are also the packaging and shipping factors when it comes to wine bottles. Because of the shape and weight of the bottle, there’s a lot of packaging that goes into shipping it, and that actually has a pretty big impact on the environment.

With canned wine, you really cut down on that because you don’t have to worry about excess packaging or things like that. Canned wine is much lighter and much more recyclable. And it’s been very cool to know that we’ll make a positive impact in that way.

Check out Just Enough Wines for yourself here.