POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – What started as an idea for wine in 2013 has turned into a bona fide business. Now, the young woman behind RedHead Brands LLC is seeing so much success that she’s planning a massive expansion.
Not long after graduating from Lowellville High School, Marisa Sergi came up with the idea for ReadHead wine when she was studying winemaking at Cornell University.
Then came a deal with Walmart, and now, one of Ohio’s major distributors wants to put RedHead wine on shelves across the state, which means the young entrepreneur needs to expand.
Sitting in Luva Bella’s warehouse on Route 224, where RedHead is made, several pallets of RedHead wine are ready for the Heidelberg Distributing Company.
“For their first order, it’s definitely a very large one comparative to if we were just starting out and didn’t have a footprint in the market,” Sergi said.
Since RedHead wine started selling two years ago in Walmarts, sales have doubled. Now with the Heidelberg deal, Sergi has decided it’s time to expand because she expects her footprint in Ohio to triple.
“We just announced that we are adding a manufacturing facility that will double the current warehouse, and we’re probably going spend about $1 million on that expansion,” she said.
The current filtration system will be replaced and the production facility will be expanded for more tanks and more room for the barrel-aged wines. More racking is also needed for the finished wines.
“We’re envisioning we’re going to knock down that wall, knock down this wall and expand out that way,” she said.
RedHead wine is also sold in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, with Kentucky expected to be next and possibly Tennessee.
Sergi also has long-term goals.
“I would absolutely love to be in 10 to 15 states distributing several items including the RedHead Red Blend, the Purple Rain line and of course our Passion line,” Sergi said. “But eventually, I’d love to be national.”
The young entrepreneur is very positive about growing her business around Youngstown.
“With having a California-style winery, we’ve been able to break down those barriers because of the support of the community and showcase that, yes, we are Youngstown and yes, we are taken seriously,” she said.
Sergi said she will not be growing her own grapes but will buy the best California has to offer.
She also said the Luva Bella/RedHead winery was last rated as the third largest wine-producing operation in Ohio, but with what has happened this year, she believes they could now be number one.