Meet Our Founder, Michael Fishman
I have always loved wine and am fortunate to share my passion with friends. Many of those friends are wine retailers, restaurateurs, and enthusiasts with great wine expertise.
Fifteen years ago, I grew frustrated that my knowledge of wine did not match the level of my friends. I wanted to learn all that I could about wine, so I started by reading Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Wine Course and soon moved on to more complex volumes. Before long, I decided to turn my passion for wine into a vocation.
First, I opened a wine bar in South Baltimore, where I began a tasting program called “Winesdays” that provided five samples of wine for under five dollars. This allowed me to introduce great, affordable wines to a new generation of wine drinkers. Next, I opened a city wine store that offered education and tastings in an unintimidating setting. I developed a four-week “Wine 101” course that became so popular Baltimore City Community College contracted me to teach it for their adult continuing education program. The college conferred upon me the title of adjunct professor; my mother was very proud.
Following these successes, the developer of a new shopping center approached me about opening a larger wine store next to a gourmet market in the suburbs. I partnered up with my longtime friend, entrepreneur Greg Rochlin, and my days of being an urban wine pioneer were over.
In our new store, I found an audience eager for a different approach to retailing wine. Instead of organizing our store the traditional way by country or grape, I grouped wine by similar flavor profile and price – including an entire wall dedicated to quality wines under $15. This encouraged experimentation and allowed our customers to try new wines without feeling they needed to have any knowledge of them.
You may be wondering how all this brought about the creation of Open Door Cellars? Well, in talking to our customers I heard two things over and over: 1) People were frustrated with bottled wine going to waste before it could be finished. 2) Most of our customers were not wine snobs; they just wanted an affordable, great glass of wine that would be consistent night after night. I knew that if we could deliver quality wine — like those on our $15 bottle wall — in a package that preserved freshness, our customers would be excited. How did I know? I asked them. Then Greg and I decided to make it happen.
I convinced talented winemakers to let me put their fine wines in a bag-in-box container, which keeps wine fresh for weeks after opening. Meanwhile, Greg became Chief Executive Officer and built a business model that made financial sense not only for us but also for our customers. And so we bring you Open Door Cellars.
I wish I could put a box of Open Door Cellars in your hands the way I used to do in our store, but I will have to leave that enjoyment to the many talented wine retailers who have given us so much encouragement. Let us know what you think!
Wine Lover & Founder