L’uva Bella wines are sold in major retailers in nine states — and the list is growing
Ohio might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of winemaking.
But for Marisa Sergi-Schumann, it was an easy choice after she completed her BS in Viticulture and Enology at Cornell University in 2015.
After working for a year in California for E&J Gallo winery, the Lowellville, Ohio, native decided to return to her home state.
After all, she was the third generation of her Italian-American family to be a winemaker — and her parents owned a winery.
Now, she does.
Along with her husband/business partner, Chagrin Falls native Evan Schumann, she purchased the winery from her parents in 2020. It was the perfect place to produce the wine brand she had started at Cornell, Redhead, and much more.
Just three years later, L’uva Bella Winery has four brands (Reserve, Reds, Purple Rain and Passion) sold across nine states in chains such as Walmart, Kroger and Target, as well as independent stores.
For their efforts, the couple has been recognized as 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 honorees in the Food & Drink category.
L’Uva Bella brands range from fun and funky to classic. (All photos courtesy of Marisa Sergi-Schumann.)
“It gives us validity in what we’re doing. And it helps show our retail partners that we’re a stand-out from the crowd,” says Evan of the honor. “There are a lot of brands knocking on the doors of Walmart and Target and Food Lion. How do you stand out from that crowd?
“Wine is unique because there’s not a lot of innovation, not a lot of startup companies. And in a legacy industry, the Forbes name and recognition gives us validation that what we’re doing is working, that a retailer should pay attention because consumers are agreeing with what we’re doing.”
With splashy, colorful labels and names, the couple is appealing to Gen X and millennial wine drinkers, who are also attracted by the lower price points and accessibility.
“It’s approachable,” says Evan, who brings a background in manufacturing to the business. “We know that our consumers are not spending $15 a bottle. We know that they’re not perusing the shelves and searching for a certain region or a certain type of growing climate. We know that they’re looking for something that’s easily approachable, that they can get for a value price point, know what they’re going to able to enjoy with their friends, and be able to be a repeat customer without breaking the bank.”
Approachable flavors are also important to Marisa.
“We’re bringing innovative profiles like blueberry lemonade or a tropical rosé or a fruit punch type of style. We make serious wines as well. We have classic rosé, we have red blends, we have whites, we have traditional barrel-aged sauvignons, merlots, wines that have placed very high in winemaking competitions.
“We covering a lot of bases with what we’re doing at the winery because of our team. We have some of the best talent in the area. We brought in winemaking experts from the West Coast that were willing to move and be part of an innovative winery.”
Modern is not just about the look at L’Uva, but also the process.
“We have invested heavily in our facility to have state of art equipment, especially within our last expansion,” says Marisa. She and Evan have raised $3 million in funding at a $15 million valuation for their growing business.
“We have the best filtration systems, the best infrastructure to really produce a high-quality product.”
Her modern approach to winemaking began at Cornell.
“I started a wine label called Redhead Wine, which I recently rebranded to Reds. That helped jumpstart my interest in retail distribution and more of a nontraditional path as a winemaker. I won the Cornell House winemaking Capstone Award for my class.”
Though the allure of the West Coast was undeniable, launching their business in Ohio was ultimately an easy choice for the couple.
“Ohio really is a great place for us to be,” says Evan. “The cost of doing business is relatively inexpensive and cost of living is relatively inexpensive. It gives us a ton of access to the East Coast and Midwest, which is our primary market. We really couldn’t be placed any better given our distribution routes … it’s really important to us to be able to get value for our customers.”
Marisa is excited that their Forbes honor will be celebrated at a Summit in their home state this fall.
“Us receiving the Forbes Under 30 honor shows that you can make it anywhere. You just have to be resourceful. I grew up in town without even a stoplight near Youngstown.
“This just shows that in any location you have to put in the hard work and same persistence. Being from Ohio, it’s really awesome to bring that honor to the area and be a part of the Cleveland summit this October.”
L’uva Bella® Reserve Collection — L’uva Bella ® (luvabella.com)
Forbes Under 30 Summit coming to Ohio for 3 years | by Greater Cleveland Partnership | Medium
Forbes 30 Under 30: Cleveland-born animator Chaz Bottoms illustrating a diverse future — Greater Cleveland Partnership
Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Dynamic Business.