Many a business venture gets sorted out over a glass of wine. This one came from the glass itself.
More specifically, the venture came from the next morning headache Mary Anna Ossa experienced two years ago after a night out with her best friend on a family trip to Spain.
“We were drinking wine in a bar, and we were talking about how we figured the next day we were going to feel awful because we had a few too many glasses,” Ossa said. “And in fact we did.”
Ossa, a Venezuelan native who moved to this country 23 years ago for grad school, did some research. She learned tannins, sulfites and sugars added to wine is what causes the headaches. She also learned of minimal intervention farming that can create organic, vegan wine that does not cause headaches.
“I know I’m not the only one who has this problem, who gets a headache after a couple of glasses of wine,” Ossa said. “So I decided, why not bring this delicious organic wine to the states?”
Ossa and that best friend began a partnership that Ossa since has bought out to maintain full ownership of Partners & Grapes. The pair found a generational vineyard in Spain worked in a similar way for more than 500 years. No pesticides, fertilizers, or tractors are used.
“Everything is done by hand,” Ossa said.
Red and white options were created. There’s a rose coming and Ossa would like to have a sparkling version by the holidays. The boutique wine company that launched six months ago produces 300-500 bottles a month.
Ossa moved to Indian Land after 16 years in Charlotte. Her warehouse is south of the state line and the company is licensed to distribute in South Carolina. Late last month her company announced an expansion into the North Carolina market.
“Charlotte is the perfect market product, because there’s a huge trend of people looking for healthier options in North Carolina,” Ossa said.
Greenville, Charleston and other cities across the Carolinas are targets for future expansion. So are Florida and Georgia. Yet the type of farming needed for Ossa’s wines and the strict organic and vegan certifications mean it isn’t something customers will find in large grocery stores.
“It’s impossible to mass produce it,” Ossa said.
The Southern Olive, Stateline Elite and Carolina Wines & Spirits carry the products in Indian Land. Churchill’s Liquor & Wine in Fort Mill has it, as will the new The Social Cork Wine Bar. All three Grapevine locations — Rock Hill, Fort Mill, York — carry it.
There have been challenges starting a new business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially one that transports regulated adult beverages across the world from the Penedes region of Catalan Spain to a startup seller in Indian Land.
“Challenge is an understatement,” Ossa said. “Delays go from 60 to 90 days. I was ready to bring my rose, which is my third wine, and it should have been here in the beginning of June. It’s still not here, and we don’t know when it will be here.”
Her last shipment of red and white sat in New Jersey for a month without available trucking to get it to South Carolina. While extra aging time may do wonders for wines, it’s tough on the business end of distribution. Ossa said she tries to order what she can with enough advance time, like the sparkling wine she hopes to get by the holidays.
Ossa wanted to create her own blends, not just her own label on someone else’s wine. She also wanted the fill organic and vegan certification, not just wine with organic grapes.
“There are other companies that offer organic wines,” Ossa said. “None of them are local.”
It’s a bit odd describing the taste difference between her wines and typical ones, Ossa said.
“It tastes clean,” she said. “You can feel it in your palette, how clean it is.”
The day after drinking it, though, Ossa said the difference is clear.
While there’s no accounting for what else drinkers may be up to in addition to their drinks, if they have a headache the next day they can’t blame the wine.
“I tell people, you will get drunk if you drink an entire bottle,” Ossa said. “But you will not get a headache.”