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Meet the Chicago wine that made it to the White House

Carlos Quimbo and Sean Thomas started Chicago-based wine label Good Vines last year. In the contentious beverage market, Quimbo and Thomas figure they can do well by doing good. They source from an Italian vineyard that’s mostly powered by solar energy, donate 5 percent of sales to children’s charities, and use local artists to design their labels. The socially conscious branding seems to be working — the company recently landed a partnership with Mariano’s grocery stores.

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Here’s what we learned

1. Both Quimbo and Thomas were born into food and liquor royalty — Quimbo’s parents own the “Franzia of the Phillippines,” and Thomas is the grandson of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. Prior to Good Vines, Thomas worked with the family business, and Quimbo was in banking. But striking out on their own was inevitable. “I think entrepreneurship is in your DNA,” Quimbo says.

2. Wine snobs they are not. “I think boxed wine actually does a better job of keeping wine fresher,” Quimbo says. “Maybe one day we’ll do a boxed wine.”

3. Breaking into new markets with a new product is always a dogfight. Getting your product into the White House, as Good Vines did this summer? That’s a high water mark. But Thomas and Quimbo remain humble. “Even presidents need a drink,” Quimbo says.

To celebrate their Happy Hour visit, Good Vines is giving away two tickets to Common Thread’s Chicago Associate Board Cook-Off on Oct. 2 to Grid readers. Enter to win by filling out the form below. Must be 21 or older to win.

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