“Wine should be fun.”
That statement comes courtesy of Parker Theo, 25, a young entrepreneur whose goal is to shake up the wine industry one glass at a time with his pet project: COLOR wines.
Theo grew up in Newport Beach and attended USC. After graduation, instead of taking a suit and tie job, he headed north to Napa Valley and became immersed in the wine industry.
“My goal was to understand a business,” explained Theo, who now lives back in Newport Beach. “My dad knows the restaurant business (the family owns 3-Thirty-3 Restaurant) and I started there as a dishwasher and worked my way up the ranks. I had the same mentality with wine.”
Theo got a job with David Arthur Winery in the heart of Napa Valley and spent a year learning the ins and outs of the wine industry.
“I worked a harvest and got up at 4 a.m. and finished at 11 p.m.: recalled Theo. “I walked the vineyards, picked grapes, helped with fermentation and barreling, accompanied guests on their wine tasting. You name it, I did it. I worked with Niles Zacherle, the winemaker at David Arthur. I worked three different jobs a day, but Niles said if I do this for two months, I will get a lot of knowledge.”
He was right—Theo ended up with he called “a well-rounded view of how a winery operated, and went on to earn a Certified Specialist of Wine certification, recognized by the international wine and spirits industry.
During his time in Napa, Theo had an idea to make his own wine. While researching his senior thesis at USC, he discovered that the millennial generation and baby boomers were consuming wine in different ways.
“Baby boomers were consuming less wine, but spending more. Millennials wine volume is huge but spending is down. It’s a startling statistic: millennials are drinking four times more wine than baby boomers.”
Theo did more market research and sent a survey to hundreds of people asking four questions: what they look at when buying wine, what type of wine, price, and label.
“I found that the millennial generation spends between 10 and 15 dollars for a bottle of wine,” said Theo. “When you go from 15 to 20 dollars they expect something special, and when you go over 20 dollars, it’s a different category.”
So how do you make a good wine for the millennial generation? Knowing the cost of starting a winery, Theo went a different route and began to sample wines from various wineries that had extra juice to sell. He brought the samples to David Arthur, and the winemakers helped him select three wines: red, white and rose.
Theo had his wines, now he needed to bottle and label them—and even more important, name the wine brand.
That’s where his college friends Shelby and Sandy come in.
“They are not only renowned artists based in downtown Los Angeles, but they are brothers, who pride themselves on creating visceral nostalgia,” explained Theo. “Their attention to detail is marvelous and their techniques are remarkable. Through bright colors, bold lines, and extraordinary talent, Shelby and Sandy create paintings that resemble our principles – as a winery and as millennials. The breath-taking wine labels that they hand-crafted, do just that.”
Theo also noted that the first thing you do in a wine tasting is to check the color of the wine. Add the colorful label (taken from the paintings), and there you have the name: COLOR Wine.
A close look at the COLOR Wine labels reveals a local setting.
“I wanted it at the Wedge, the jetty,” said Theo. “There is a sidewalk on the label which is not at the wedge, but I wanted identifiers. The Red wine label is the nighttime scene, white wine label is the daytime scene. The same people are sitting at the bonfire. People are on bikes and drinking wine. For the Rose, Shelby and Sandy did the same setting but with pink animals.”
Another unique aspect of each COLOR Wine bottle—Theo hand dips the top of each bottle in wax.
“Historically wax is used to seal cork but this wine is actually a screw top. You pull a tab and it breaks the wax. We are the only winery that does this with screw tops. We think it looks like paint. Colorful paint.”
So how good is the COLOR wine?
“It’s sold at A Market, Pizza Nova, 3-Thirty-3, Bear Flag, and we’re making our way up the coast,” said Theo. “Before we launched Shelby and Sandy put it on their social media platforms. I dropped two cases of each wine off at A Market on a Friday morning, and by that afternoon they were sold out. I’ve had nothing but great reviews.”
Theo took a chance and entered his wine in the OC Fair wine competition this year. Out of 2,500 wines submitted, his COLOR chardonnay received a bronze medal in its class. To say Theo was pleased is an understatement.
“For us, we don’t worry about the specifics of lot number, grape varietal, fermentation process, barrel and toast type, or even the length of time it was aged,” said Theo. “We want to bring you top quality wine at an affordable price. A wine with great tasting notes, a wine that makes you happy, and a wine that is just plain delicious. A wine label that pays respect to where we learned our life lessons as kids and puts a new twist to the classic standard of wine.”
For more information, visit the COLOR Wine website at NapaColor.com.