If you’ve attended a wedding in the Bay Area this summer, there’s a chance you’ve been served a glass of wine from Foot of the Bed Cellars, a curated wine service uncorked by two Los Altos natives.
Founders Luc Bergevin and Martin Sheehan-Stross put their brains and skill sets together to form the business, which originated as a wine delivery service and has since expanded to a monthly subscription model and wines poured at launch parties, corporate meetings and nighttime gatherings.
The Los Altos High graduates travel up and down the West Coast to find wines they like enough to put their Foot of the Bed label on, but they are not satisfied with their market reach quite yet. With an eye on a new market, they recently introduced wines with custom-made wedding labels.
The pair are in talks with San Francisco-based custom wedding dress company Anomalie to include their wine-and-label service in promotional boxes sent to brides-to-be. The only thing left to coordinate is a social media and blog rollout.
For their custom labels, Bergevin and Sheehan-Stross contracted a designer to create a logo featuring the names of the couple, their wedding date, a photo and their wedding hashtag. While custom wine labels aren’t necessarily a new product, they add a special touch to the ceremony that cost-conscious couples getting married in one of the priciest regions in the U.S. would like to include as inexpensively as possible. That’s the niche Bergevin and Sheehan-Stross aim to fill.
“Weddings can be so expensive, so what we and Anomalie bring to that equation is the special feeling of customization,” Bergevin said in a phone interview, during which he was sitting in traffic on the way to the company’s production partner Domenico Winery in San Carlos with 180 gallons of this month’s blend in the back of his pickup truck. “It’s something made just for (them). We sit down with the bride and groom and their parents and pour out a bunch of options we have from leftover inventory so that they can pick.”
Anomalie has served Foot of the Bed Cellars wine at events, and Anomalie’s co-founder Calley Means said he was impressed with the young entrepreneurs’ knowledge of the wines they served and their innovative business model, which works to cut out the middleman much like Anomalie does.
“There are a million companies selling wine packages online, but they work vertically and creatively,” Means said. “There is a lot of information disadvantage with the internet now, and they aim to bring transparency and quality like we do with our brides.”
Friends with benefits
Friends of Bergevin and Sheehan-Stross have benefited from their startup. Foot of the Bed Cellars wines have been poured at a Los Altos High grad’s wedding, and they have conducted tastings for the upcoming nuptials of a Mountain View High alum.
Keith Loebner, a member of Los Altos High’s Class of 2007, and his wife, Ellen, said they loved working with people they knew personally to ensure that things went off without a hitch when they got hitched last summer.
“It helped that the wines were excellent and affordable,” Loebner said. “Luc was also able to do an in-home tasting with us and guided us to a wine selection that we and our guests all loved, while taking care of all the wedding-day logistics so that we could just enjoy the day and the wine.”
Aaron Elman, who graduated from Mountain View High in 2008 and is getting married this fall, said he was pleased with Foot of the Bed Cellars’ wide variety of wines.
“Luc also opened up a bunch of bottles for my fiancee and I with my parents to find what we liked, which was a nice touch, too,” he said.
When searching for a business partner before launching the wine startup, Bergevin reached out via Facebook to Sheehan-Stross, who was two years ahead of him at Los Altos High. While Sheehan-Stross remembered Bergevin as his “high school best friend’s little brother’s best friend,” he heard him out, Sheehan-Stross recalls on the company website.
After casual drinks that extended two hours past either of them expected, they launched Foot of the Bed Cellars in October 2016.
The pair work on balancing the responsibilities – neither has a business degree, but life experience guides their way. Bergevin discovered a passion for the process of harvesting and bottling wine after hanging out in Los Altos Hills with his friends’ dads, who doubled as home winemakers. Sheehan-Stross, an award-winning sommelier, has worked at restaurants since age 15, including Michael Mina in San Francisco, making him Bergevin’s first and only choice for a business partner.
Bergevin and Sheehan-Stross have both relocated to San Francisco since graduating from UCLA and San Diego State University, respectively.
The company has particularly benefited from the appeal of one of its core principles: community. People from different backgrounds gather to sample and learn about the wines – one of Sheehan-Stross’ specialties; he writes essays with background information on the bottles that are tucked inside each subscription box.
Their personal touches and referrals from both Peninsula and city contacts have given Bergevin and Sheehan-Stross the opportunity to gain street cred in a crowded wine world, where subscription services are as ubiquitous as the Lime scooters that line San Francisco’s streets. In the past six months, Foot of the Bed Cellars debuted in the tech world with events at 23andMe and Google Inc. and in the charity world at the American Red Cross Gala at San Francisco City Hall.
The co-founders remember their roots and said they love returning home when they host launches for new wines. According to Bergevin, Los Altos launch parties provide an opportunity to catch up with friends. Bergevin and Sheehan-Stross spent last weekend serving wine to familiar faces at a Los Altos launch party and the 23andMe company picnic at Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills.
For more information on Foot of the Bed Cellars, visit footofthebed.com.
For more information on Anomalie, visit dressanomalie.com.