by Jim Gehman
“Well, I went from a guy who enjoyed wine to a guy who wanted to learn and study more about wine, to become a guy who eventually wanted to start his own wine label,” said Blackmon, who started the business in the fall of 2019. “And so me doing my homework and research to start my own wine label, I learned a bunch of hurdles, and I was like, ‘You know what? I could be the middleman for people. I have such an extensive network of athletes and people in the wine industry, why don’t I just be the person who connects the dots?’”
Included in Wine Enthusiasts Top 40 Under 40 in 2020, Blackmon, a certified sommelier and dot connector, has been featured in several other wine publications.
The Wine MVP [www.thewinemvp.com] offers a subscription service.
“I partnered with a fine wine retailer, the Wine Exchange (in Santa Ana, CA), and basically, we pick two bottles that we think would fit in the subscription box, that has a cool story, and share it with our consumers,” Blackmon said. “The biggest thing is, I emphasize wine education versus actual lifestyle. Which is what inspired me.
“I want to be able to kind of take away the pretentious of wine and really teach it. Especially to a younger demographic like millennials. They’re getting more and more disconnected in the wine world because they associate it with rich and stuffy. And that is the case in some areas, but it doesn’t have to be like that. That’s kind of where I come in.”
The Wine MVP also offers a concierge service.
“Outside of providing wine education, I also want to be able to provide and curate experiences for people,” Blackmon said. “So those who want to travel to different wineries, I can help set that up. Or for people who want to have events or who want me to host tastings for them.”
What does Blackmon, who makes his home with his family in Southern California, enjoy most about what he’s doing?
“I just like having fun and making people happy. That’s the biggest thing. I’m in this industry with zero ego. I just like helping people,” Blackmon said. “Obviously we’re still dealing with COVID, but Napa Valley dealt with tons of fires, and I was more than happy to help out any way I could.
“So the fact that I’m selling someone else’s wine, I’m helping them. The fact that I’m getting people to come to their region, I’m helping that region. That’s my whole motive.
“And then also, too, those who want to learn about wine, but they’re intimidated or they’re afraid, they don’t know where to start, when they see someone like me talking about it and sharing it, it makes it more approachable. That’s my whole thing. It’s never about me. I’m just trying to be helpful.”