Choosing a bottle of wine for that special occasion or even just to have at home to enjoy with friends at a weekend get together shouldn’t be a stressful experience. But frequently it seems as if you need to be a sommelier, well versed in the specialized language of the wine world, or else just pick the bottle with the most attractive label and hope for the best.
Brice Baillie admits that he was something of a wine snob, which is completely understandable given that he is a native of Champagne, France. After graduating from EDHEC Business School in 2006 with a Master’s Degree in Management and Finance, he worked for over three years as an audit supervisor for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and then spent several years in different offices of L’Oreal ParisUSA. In 2015 Baillie ended up in California, settling down with his American wife, learning to appreciate California wines and share his love of wine with his American friends.
But he realized that the process of choosing wines was still a problem for many of his friends and colleagues. The labeling of wine was not always helpful to people who did not have the background information to interpret the language of winemaking and classification. “Why spend more time choosing wine than drinking it?” he wondered.
To solve this problem, Baillie founded Obvious Wines. His vision was to collaborate with family-owned wineries with sustainable farming practices to create a “unique collection” of high-quality wine, with unique, descriptive names and user-friendly labels.
Baillie started out by “cold calling” wineries in California and found a few wineries that were open to the idea of partnering with him. He hosted wine tasting parties in his home and selected the first wines through direct feedback from his friends and other potential customers. After identifying the desired wine, additional tastings were held to identify the descriptive details for the labels.
The first wine produced and bottled was named simply No. 01 Dark&Bold, followed by No. 02 Bright&Crisp, and No. 03 Light&Lively. Another variety was added later: No. 05 French&Bubbly. Vineyards that currently produce wine for Baillie include Broken Earth Winery in California and Villebois Winery in France.
Initial sales were made primarily by going door-to-door to retail stores in the Los Angeles area to test the concept. The response was very positive. A Facebook Page was created on May 8, 2017, with links to area stores that were selling Obvious Wines.
Obvious Wines are currently available in numerous stores in the Los Angeles area and recently in San Diego. Plans for the future include expanding to the entire state of California and into other states. The wine can also be ordered through the website, with free shipping offered with the purchase of six or more bottles.
An article on June 22, 2018, “USA Wine Ratings” by the Beverage Trade Network described No. 01 Dark&Bold as fruity, smooth and medium bodied, saying it was “Surprise of the Year!” The article also described the labels as giving a lot of information about the wine, the vineyard where it is produced, tasting notes and food pairings, and called them “Best quirky back/front label too!”