Nick (N), Ed (E), Rob (R) and Ollie (O) make up NERO Cellars both in name and spirit.
NERO wine was originally made in Ed’s garage in the East Bay of San Francisco. The four friends’ initiative was a passion-project at first, mostly intended to meet the wine needs of friends and family. Eventually, the wine started reaching fans outside the inner circle. Commercial production was always in the back of the team’s mind, but everyone had a different thought about the transition from fun to for real and when that would happen. The push came when garage-production reached its limits.
“We were at capacity and selling out. We had to decide: stay at that capacity or make an alternate plan,” said Nick Opderbeck. But that was easier said than done. Getting everyone on the same page in terms of investments and financials was the challenge.
Majority and necessity ruled, and the team moved production into commercial space in Livermore, CA, sourcing grapes from Sonoma and Napa. NERO Cellars produces mostly unfiltered Rhone varietals in the $15-$18 range.
NERO’s holistic approach aims at serving the young, but experienced wine drinker with a sense of adventure by producing less mainstream wines like syrah and grenache. “We think we can market that wine to the younger crowd,” said Ed Bernazzani. “They’ll appreciate it once they try it.”
The company’s keys to success: enthusiasm, love of wine, a diverse set of talents, and lots of skills didn’t hurt the group’s ability to grow; but supportive spouses and day jobs were the foursome’s secret ingredients.