HOPE Floats: Scottsdale mom leads wine business that tastes great while doing good

HOPE Floats: Scottsdale mom leads wine business that tastes great while doing good

By Alison Bailin Batz

Third-generation Arizona native Kristen Shroyer grew up knowing two things.

“I knew I loved Scottsdale, especially going to school at Cochise Elementary, Cocopah Middle and Chaparral High. I am North Valley proud from day one,” Shroyer says. “I also knew that I knew far more about wine than most kids, which sounds weird saying it out loud!”

Shroyer clarifies that her parents were wine aficionados, so much so they would visit Napa often, sometimes allowing Shroyer to tag along on cellar, vineyard and cave tours. Though she didn’t get any sips, she did soak in a lot of information about grapes, harvests and winemaking that would serve her well as early as high school.

“I worked at Houston’s in my teens, and though a hostess I was always ready with a fun fact about wine for guests,” Shroyer says. “There I found myself fascinated by all the distributors who would visit, each with what seemed like hundreds of wines to sell to the restaurant.”

Upon graduating from Chaparral in 2001, Shroyer moved to Tucson to study marketing at the Eller College at the University of Arizona.

“Freshman year I attended the school’s job fair and marched myself directly to the Gallo Wine table, determined to earn an internship with them,” Shroyer says. “Alas, as I was just 19, they had to decline.”

The representative at the table, however, was impressed with her moxie and challenged Shroyer to stay in touch for an opportunity once she was of age.

“Let’s just say I spent the next two years being very persistent,” Shroyer says. “So much so, they created a summer internship for me in Southern California after my junior year.”

Armed with her research, work ethic, and proof she was finally 21, Shroyer worked in grocery stores across California that summer, merchandising wine. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Gallo moved Shroyer to Newport Beach, selling wine from their extensive portfolio to Orange County grocers.

“There were seven key colleagues I met in my first months of working at Gallo, all of whom became dear friends,” Shroyer says.

According to Shroyer, it was while with colleague Jake Kloberdanz stocking wine at a grocery store in the wee hours of an October morning that the seeds for their empire would be planted.

“We noticed the entire store — save for the wine aisle — was pink, thanks to the many products supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Shroyer says. “We loved it but found ourselves sad both that wine wasn’t represented in support of the cause and that come November 1, all of the pink was gone yet there was no other cause to support.”

The two friends, along with six other colleagues, put pen to paper on a pie-in-the-sky concept: a wine company that partnered with a host of causes and transparently donated a portion of every dollar made directly back to each group.

“Being that most of us were just 23 years old, the idea stayed on paper for what I thought would be forever,” says Shroyer, who was eventually transferred to Napa but dreamt of making her way back to Scottsdale one day. “Turns out ‘forever’ was just a few years away, as was being back in Scottsdale.

In 2006, Kloberdanz called Shroyer with the sobering news that a friend was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma at just 24 years old. Realizing life was short, Shroyer, Kloberdanz and their six colleagues quit their jobs, committed to building a wine company that supported people like their friend.

They named their company ONEHOPE Wine because they wanted to give hope by giving back with funds from every bottle in order to create a lasting impact for local and global causes.

“I was only 25 at the time. It was before kids and a mortgage, so I made the biggest leap of faith of my life,” says Shroyer, who relocated back to Southern California to start the ball rolling.

After connecting with a custom crush facility and developing an initial concept — wines where each varietal raised funds for one cause they cared about — the team began selling ONEHOPE from their cars and to their friends, quickly learning the former was technically illegal.

“Within a few months, we got a distributor who believed in us, and Arizona was one of the first markets we were able to sell in. This was huge for me, as it meant I could move home to oversee the region,” Shroyer says.

In the years since starting the brand, in addition to getting married and starting a family, there have been lots of changes for Shroyer.

ONEHOPE, for example, is now available in all 50 states, including hotels and restaurants, and has more than 200 investors. And in 2020, despite COVID-19, the brand opened its first full-scale tasting room in the heart of Napa. Upon opening the 10-acre property, ONEHOPE became the first (and still only) impact-driven winemaker in the region. Located in the coveted wine region of Rutherford, the space allows it to host wine tastings, events, and even its own formal harvest parties, the most recent of which raised $317,000 to provide clean drinking water to thousands in the developing world.

Shroyer also co-launched the ONEHOPE Foundation, funding causes all over the world using proceeds from wine sales versus just one varietal for one cause at a time.

“We’ve made contributions to more than 30,000 local nonprofits in excess of $7.5 million in the past 14 years alone,” Shroyer says. “We also launched a direct-to-consumer program where anyone can host a ONEHOPE wine tasting to help fundraise for a nonprofit of choice, and we have a wine club where you can have our winemaker curate wines for you, or you can pick and choose yourself.”

Just as busy at home as at ONEHOPE, Shroyer also coaches a youth volleyball team, serves on the board of the Scottsdale Unified School District Foundation, and is the cookie manager for her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop.

“My parents inspired me to entrepreneurism though wine, and I am doing it with my own children through cookies,” laughs Shroyer, noting she was attracted to the program for its focus on goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. “I want them prepared to come work with me, or to branch and dream big on their own, all with my full support.” 

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