An Exclusive One-on-One Interview With Justine DiPrete, Co-Founder & CEO of Sip Wines.
Q: For those in our audience not familiar with Sip Wines can you share your story with us?
JD: The idea for Sip Wines started at the beginning of the pandemic. We saw the impact that the pandemic was having on small businesses, and small wineries were being hit especially hard since they do a large portion of their sales through tasting rooms and local restaurants. We wanted to use our backgrounds in technology to help provide a solution for these small wineries and to bring their wine and their stories to a broader audience.
After we got started working on Sip Wines, we saw a larger need for a marketplace that connects consumers with small wineries that they may not otherwise have access to. Our mission is to help consumers find wine they love and wineries whose values with their own.
Q: Tell us about your position as Co-Founder and CEO.
JD: I’m using my background in software engineering and product management to help create a scalable platform that will be able to highlight wineries from across the country. There are over 11k wineries in the U.S. and most of them are small, so we see a lot of potential to grow. I want to use our platform to help promote these small businesses that are making a difference in their communities.
Q: How do you deal with navigating through shipping regulations for each state?
JD: Since all of the wine on Sip Wines is shipped directly from each winery, we let the wineries determine what states they can ship to and what their individual shipping policies are. While there are still several states that don’t allow direct-to-consumer wine shipments at all (Alabama, Mississippi, and Utah), most states have moved beyond the traditional distribution restrictions and have made it easier for wineries to ship directly to consumers. This is very beneficial for smaller wineries that don’t produce the quantities necessary for the traditional three tier model.
Q: As part of the Wine E-Commerce Platform, where do you see Sip Wines five years from now?
JD: We see Sip Wines being the go to marketplace for consumers to shop for wine from small American wineries. We want Sip Wines to be a platform where customers can come to discover new wines, and we want to facilitate a connection between the customer and the winemakers and winery owners by sharing their stories on our platform.
Q: What were your career plans after you graduated from Stanford University in 2011?
JD: I’ve always enjoyed working at early stage startups and building products and companies from the ground up. I knew when I graduated that I didn’t want to join a large company where my impact would be minimal. Instead, I worked at a series of smaller startups, two of which I joined pre product launch. I worked as both a software engineer and as a product manager, and I got to experience all stages of a startup from launch to acquisition.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue their dream and start a business?
JD: Go for it! There is a large network of women who are interested in helping other women founders, so you won't be alone in your journey.
Q: Can you share with us, one woman who inspires you and why?
JD: I am incredibly inspired by all of the women winemakers and winery owners on Sip Wines. They’re working in an industry where women have been historically excluded and are still very underrepresented—I saw one statistic that estimated that only around 15% of winemakers in California are women—and they’re making some really incredible wine. It’s been incredibly inspiring seeing what these women are creating, some as one-woman operations, and seeing them pave the way for future generations of women in wine.
Q: Can you tell us how you manage your work life balance?
JD: Prior to Sip Wines I always worked out of an office, so it’s been an adjustment working from home and separating my work life and my home life. Luckily with Sip Wines being a wine company, it doesn’t always feel like work. A day can be spent coding for the website, emailing with winery partners, or doing a wine tasting with new wineries we’re onboarding onto the site.
Five Things About Justine DiPrete
1. What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee?
MacKenzie Scott - she’s spent the past year giving billions to philanthropic causes and is setting an example for how an individual with large amounts of wealth can have a positive impact on the world. I would love to talk to her about her plans and about the causes she’s supporting.
2. What were you like as a student?
I went to arts schools all growing up and was always really into music. My main instruments were saxophone and violin, but in college I would play whatever instrument was available. My friends and I would regularly have jam sessions in my dorm room with my roommate’s electric drum set and my electric guitar.
3. Favorite dessert?
I love Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Some of my favorite flavors are the Tonight Dough and Americone Dream.
4. What app can’t you live without?
The camera app. I try to take at least one picture or short video every day so I can remember where I’ve been. This also motivates me to go out and do something interesting every day.
5. Do you have any hobbies?
I love traveling. I spent 2019 traveling around the world hitting 5 continents, 14 countries, 36 states, and 13 national parks. I feel really lucky that I was able to do this before the pandemic started and can’t wait to get back out there once things are better again. The first trip I’m planning is to visit all of the wineries on Sip Wines!