Welcome, thirsty listener. This is episode 4 of the Business of Drinks podcast. Today’s show is called “Haus: What Went Wrong?” In this episode, we sit down with Woody Hambrecht, co-founder of the DTC aperitif brand Haus, which spectacularly crashed in the summer of 2022, after its lead investor, Constellation Brands, reportedly pulled out of a $10 million Series A raise at the last minute. If you need a refresher, Haus was a drinks industry darling that raised — and burned through — $17 million in its 3-year run. During that time, the company also saw considerable success, selling more than $10 million in product.
In a candid conversation, Hambrecht shares what went wrong at Haus, from growing its team too quickly to skyrocketing customer acquisition costs. It's a cautionary tale for any drinks entrepreneur. But don't count him out just yet: Hambrecht discusses how learnings from Haus's fall are fueling his new companies, including Ami Ami, a boxed wine business that just launched. He's even procured outside funding in a challenging economic climate. Hambrecht's take on the state of bev-alc investment reveals astute insights that will benefit any drinks business.
This season’s show concept:
This season, we’re following a canned cocktail line called Hamlet Hound, from launch to growth. Along the way, we’ll interview key experts just like today’s guest, Woody Hambrecht, asking them how a startup can go from idea to national distribution, finding out what works and what doesn’t.
Want to know how to build a successful alcohol brand? Stay tuned as we investigate!
About Woody Hambrecht, guest:
Woody Hambrecht is a third-generation winemaker and organic grape farmer based in Sonoma County's Healdsburg, California. In 2018, Hambrecht launched Haus as co-founder, upending the DTC alcohol industry with a stylish, low-ABV aperitif that quickly became one of the most recognized beverages on the market. Now with Ami Ami, Hambrecht, together with his co-founder Ross Dawkins, have set out to innovate in the boxed wine category.
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About Erica Duecy, host:
Erica Duecy is co-founder of Business of Drinks, a podcast and content consultancy, and one of the drinks industry’s most accomplished digital and content strategists. She has built publishing and marketing programs for Drizly, VinePair, SevenFifty, and other hospitality and drinks tech companies. She also has led digital editorial teams at Architectural Digest and Saveur magazines. Her content, podcast, and video programs have won more than 40 digital and editorial awards. She is a WSET Advanced-certified wine and spirits communicator, and author of the cocktail book Storied Sips (Random House), about the real-life stories behind the world’s most famous cocktails.
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About Felicity Carter, host:
Felicity Carter is a well-known journalist and editor based in Europe. She is co-founder of Business of Drinks, the Editorial Director of ARENI Global in London, International Editor of Star Wine List in Sweden, and a contributing editor to The New Wine Review. Formerly, she was founding Executive Editor for The Drop, and Editor-in-Chief of Meininger’s Wine Business International, a trade magazine she built into a global must-read, with subscribers in 38 countries. She has consulted to the Dutch government and to Liv-ex, and been the keynote speaker at the wine industry’s biggest conferences and events, from New York and Sydney to Hong Kong.
To learn more about Felicity Carter: