Sheila Donohue has always loved sharing her favorite things with her friends. So when she became a sommelier, her love and knowledge of wine became the ultimate gift. Starting her company…Vero in 2018 was a natural progression with travel being a huge part of her life. Her journeys have brought her all over Europe, Russia, China, Taiwan, Japan, North and South Africa, Central America, and Canada.
She soon forged alliances, partnerships, and friendships, with these unassuming entrepreneurs across the globe. Sheila is devoted to finding relatively unknown artisanal wine producers and allowing the public access to them. She has put the spotlight on women owned companies. Olive oil has also been included into the mix. The added benefit of helping these family run companies become known in America has also been extremely gratifying for her.
Live events were a large part of Vero. However since the pandemic, zoom wine tastings has become quite successful. CLICK HERE to read a review of an Ecce Vinum Wine Tasting Event.
Q: Where do you currently live?
A: I am a bit of a nomad since starting my business 3 years ago. I live part time in Bologna Italy, which has been my home for close to 20 years. The rest of my time I spend mostly in SoCal and New York (where I am from).
Q: What first drew you to become a sommelier?
A: My curiosity and desire to learn about wine, and wanting to help others to learn and discover new types of wine and to find out what goes into making it ‘behind the label.’
Q: Why did you choose to move to Italy?
A: I got a job offer when I was working in banking and technology (my first career from a company based in Bologna Italy. Coincidentally, the offer came on Sept 12th 2001, when I was still living/working in NYC and was just blocks away from the World Trade Center when the planes struck the towers that fateful day. I was ready for a big change and looked forward to moving to and working in Italy. Having worked previously in Dublin, Ireland, I wanted to try living/working in Continental Europe. I am 100% Irish origin, and did not know Italian before going to live/work there. I knew Spanish and enjoy learning languages. I was up for the adventure.
Q: What was your experience like living in Italy?
A: It has had many phases. When I first moved there I was super excited, traveling almost every weekend to visit different parts of Italy and to many other places in Europe. And 4 years in, when I thought I got all I wanted out of it and had started to look for jobs to move back to NY, I met my husband who is from Bologna and owns/manages a 3 generation old family bakery business in Bologna. After getting married, I fell into a ‘trough of disillusionment’ with Italy, really wanting to go back to New York for personal and professional reasons. It was actually around then that I decided to pursue becoming a sommelier in Italy. I figured ‘hey, why not make the best of it?’ I really enjoyed studying to become a sommelier in Italy since the focus was not only wine but also culture, food and history. So I got a really well-rounded education about Italy overall.
Q: What part of the world do you have partner wine companies in?
A: So far from Italy, Spain, Portugal and SoCal.
Q: Have you visited all of the Vineyards of the partners that you work with? Tell me a bit about that.
A: I have visited all but the producer in Spain and the producer in Portugal that we picked up during the Covid pandemic. Thankfully through virtual means we have been able to get to know one another and start a business relationship remotely.
Q: Tell me about your craft foods section?
A: The idea for Vero came from knowing lots of small wine producers, with VeroVino being our first line of business. Yet while talking one day with my friends Luisella and Andrea who have a small olive tree farm making organic olive oil in Tuscany, I realized that the idea could be extended to olive oil too so the VeroGusto line for foods was born. We will be introducing other foods, such as honey made by local farmers here in SoCal, and wine candy also made locally, with SoCal wine.
Q: Tell me about your wine club?
A: The wine club is a monthly subscription of 3 wines per month for $99 / month including shipping. It’s for those that want to be continually surprised by new grower wineries and wines, delicious and sustainably well made from around the world. The reason why I say ‘new’ wineries and wines is because we seek out products that are missing, or totally under the radar, in the US market. So, besides discovery of an authentic, interesting wine, you’re getting a hard-to-find hidden treasure that’s still easily accessible, being a click away from ordering online at verovinogusto.com.
Q: What is your favorite part about owning Vero? And why?
A: It’s sharing the enjoyment when someone tastes a product for the first time and really appreciates its specialness. It reminds me of why I started this company and continue to seek out hidden gems of wine and food that other ‘engaged explorers’ will enjoy.
Find out more about Vero and Sheila Donohue on the website – https://www.verovinogusto.com