Inc. names VinoPro to list of fastest-growing

SANTA ROSA -- VinoPro's major shift two years ago to becoming the contract telesales force for wineries has propelled the company into the ranks of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S.

[caption id="attachment_78426" align="alignright" width="300"] VinoPro principals Lori Adams (center) and Jeff Stevenson (right) with investor Mike Houlihan[/caption]

VinoPro (707-396-5000, this year debuts on the Inc. 5000 list of private companies with the fastest revenue growth in the past three years. VinoPro ranked No. 238 with 1,810 percent revenue growth to $2.4 million in 2012 from $126,000 in 2009. The New York-based publication publishes the list Tuesday.

VinoPro sold more than $8 million in wine in 2012.

"We're on track for a whole lot more in 2013," said Jeff Stevenson, VinoPro founder and chief executive officer. Yet the company is having to limit how many new winery clients it takes on to be able to allow the sales team to spend meaningful time with consumers of existing brand clients. And some prospective vintner clients haven't been collecting enough information from tasting room visitors, specifically phone numbers.

He estimates VinoPro's 40 salespeople will ring up about 1 percent of overall direct-to-consumer wine sales this year and help employ about 500 in winery tasting rooms and shipping departments as well as fulfillment and distribution centers.

"More than 60 percent of our sales are between 4:30 and 8 p.m., but wineries close at 4 to 5 p.m.," Mr. Stevenson said. "If wineries wanted to increase their sales by 20 percent to 30 percent, they should stay open another two to three hours."

The winery-to-consumer sales segment of direct wine sales amounted to $1.52 billion in the U.S. in the 12 months ending in July, up 12 percent from that period a year before, according to the most recent data from ShipCompliant and Wines & Vines.

VinoPro also has been growing in headcount, mostly in sales. VinoPro has brought on 18 new salespeople in recent months and now has a staff of 53 in its 8,000 square feet of southwest Santa Rosa office space. The company is negotiating for 4,000 more square feet.

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