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In 2009, Votto Vines Importing began selling wine – just 1,000 cases in Connecticut – out of the back of a Subaru wagon. Today the business, co-founded by cousins Michael ’00 and Stephen Votto ’08, is on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies in America.

Ranked 14th in the food and beverage category and 464th overall, Votto Vines’ success started, in part, at Union.

“Stephen’s senior thesis doubled as our initial business plan, it was key to our navigation of the regulatory and legal filings necessary to import and distribute wine in the United States,” said CEO Michael Votto.

“With Professor Hal Fried as my advisor, my thesis became an analysis of the entire wine industry,” added CFO Stephen Votto. “It really helped us delve into industry trends and logistics.”

Just a few years later, after the official launch in 2009, Votto Vines – quite literally – exploded onto the wine scene.

Now a multi-state importer, the company experienced a massive growth spurt of 1,023% between 2010 and 2013. In other words, sales leapt from $384,000 to $4.3 million and are expected to exceed $6 million in 2014.

The cousins attribute their success to the dedication of the founders (themselves, Peter Votto, Nicholas Votto and Jeremy Jerome), their employees, key industry partnerships, and the wide range of skills everyone brings to the table – everything from law degrees to engineering, tourism and real estate expertise.

Such talent has enabled them to rise to the level of Inc. 500 and gotten Michael Votto nominated by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as Innovator/Executive of the Year. It’s also allowed Votto Vines to import wines from around the world, develop high-profile proprietary brands, guide two luxury wine and food tours in Italy, and oversee the NFL’s VIP wine program in London.

“Our proprietary brand Leone d’Oro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, for example, created with Sons of Italy, was named one of the world’s top 100 wines in 2012 by Wine Spectator,” Michael Votto said. “It’s now carried by Total Wine & More, one of the largest retailers in the United States.”

Going forward, there’ll be no slowing down.

“We’re planning to expand both our direct wholesale platform and third-party wholesale partnerships. We’re also working to launch several new estate, private label and licensed brands,” Stephen Votto said. “We’d like to double the size of the business in the near term.”

To learn more about Votto Vines, visit www.vottovines.com