Case Study: Trinita Wine by Nick Trimmer

Life's too short to drink shit wine

After Nick Trimmer lost his position with a venture capital firm following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, he turned to his interest in wine and decided to take a job at a local wine shop and use the time as an opportunity to do a deeper dive. Before this pivot, Nick had sipped some wine while traveling and tasted how good it could be. His career trajectory had nothing to do with wine, writing or hospitality. But Nick took the opportunity to read, taste and learn anything he could about wines, regions, and the industry.

Some of what he learned was that consistent and important analysis about business, trade, and regulation for the $400B global industry of wine is not regularly available, save for one guy from Silicon Valley Bank. Nine out of ten articles were about industry drama, restaurant wine lists, and trade show recaps. At this point Nick was practicing for his sommelier license and, as he puts it, lost his shit. He launched La Trinita in late 2021 with the goal of building a major resource for wine industry professionals and wine enthusiasts, informative enough to be actionable for the professionals and entertaining enough for the fans. We chatted with Nick about how beehiiv supports his community-building goals, plus some fascinating information about the wine industry- including how the current system is still regulated by post-prohibition laws.

The Newsletter: Trinita Wine (Trinita= bread, olive oil, and wine, aka the Mediterranean holy trinity in the world of wine.)

Top posts to check out

2022 Goals

After nailing down the content and style of the Trintia newsletter, the focus is on growth: grow 2,000 subscribers, add a paid tier, and begin publishing long-form industry deep dives.

Advice for other writers

When you first start out, don’t worry too much about building a brand or curating an audience. Write for yourself, find your voice, and you’ll attract people just like you.

Favorite beehiiv feature

I have two- the first is the unique opportunity to grow alongside the company and actively participate in the future of media. Generally speaking, I’m most excited by the fact that Beehiiv is still a relatively new company. The second is the referral program. I’m stoked about it- it’s become such a crucial growth engine for newsletters.

Advice for anyone considering a switch to beehiiv

Do it. It’s obvious that this team has a deep understanding of the modern media landscape, as well as the future of the industry and the medium, writ large. They just “get” it in a way that I believe Substack and Medium don’t.

Tell me about Trinita Wine

The purpose of the Trinita newsletter is to help drag the wine industry, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. Trinita is about the business of wine and the people who shape it. Wine is such an interesting topic because it has such deeply-rooted cultural importance as both a social symbol and an art form. It plays a central role in everything that humanity holds sacred: primarily food, religion, and culture. To me, wine is culture.

The business side of it is equally interesting, yet also somehow more intractable. Alcohol is the second most regulated industry in America and yet most of these businesses still run on dollies and pen-and-paper purchase orders. My goal with the newsletter has been to share the most important industry developments with the accompanying analysis that I could never find myself. I wanted to write something that was informative to those who work in the industry and entertaining to those who don’t.

Why a newsletter? The newsletter space is an exciting opportunity for industry experts in narrow verticals to really carve out a space and an audience for themselves. Every industry has always had its own obscure trade magazines, forums, and conferences. Historically, these were usually dominated by a few prominent voices that had worked in the space for decades. Platforms like Beehiiv have brought some of these voices into the mainstream while also allowing new entrants like myself to publicly compete in the marketplace of ideas. They do this by:

- Increasing the production quality of self-published research and writing by 10x,

- Creating an opportunity to do this at the cost of near zero,

- Empowering creators to build an audience.

My email inbox is filled with weekly emails about the business of rap, marijuana reform, and even commercial space travel. It’s an exciting time to build a newsletter.

Tell me about the move to beehiiv from ConvertKit

The platform was not impressive, I could send emails and monitor basic analytics, but that’s about it. I needed a platform that would enable me to build a community, not a mailing list. I wasn’t going to be able to achieve that by tracking open rates and selling t-shirts from landing pages.

I first discovered beehiiv when I started reading the Exec Sum newsletter written by the team at Litquidity. I was motivated by a few different things:

  1. The online homepage linked to the newsletter

  2. The ability to monetize by offering subscriptions

  3. A fixed monthly fee rather than a percentage of revenue (this was my biggest objection to the Substack pricing model)

When doing research on all the newsletter platforms out there, beehiiv was the one that really offered everything I was looking for. Then, after reading about the founding team, I was sold. Ultimately I made the switch because I knew that, as my newsletter grew, beehiiv would grow with me. The migration was stupid simple. I know that migration is typically one of the stickiest things about any platform and beehiiv absolutely nailed this. I think it took me five or six minutes to transfer over my email list, set up my account preferences, and start writing.

Why do you think the wine industry has a dearth of business analysis?

The signal-to-noise ratio for industry news is atrocious. The largest publications in the space occasionally report on business, trade, and regulation. There are analysts out there doing great work collecting data, monitoring trends, and sharing their insights. Probably a handful of these organizations are writing 80-page reports that are released once a year. To give some context, one of the biggest alcoholic beverage industry newsletters in the country literally copy-pastes articles into a daily email thread that would take the average person about 30 minutes to read.

Wine is such an interesting topic and there is important information out there. I romanticize wine a lot because of the way it touches economics, law, culture, and environment. It ties in all those things. It’s also a highly regulated industry. After prohibition was repealed, a series of laws were put into place to make alcohol more expensive and more difficult to obtain, with the goal of lessening the amount of alcohol abuse. This is why we have a three-tier system- the laws dictate that when alcohol is sold, it must go through several middle men. A producer sells to a wholesaler who then sells to a distributor, who turns around and sells to restaurants, bars, and stores. So we see multiple markups in the process of getting wine to consumers. On top of that, each state has different laws so you’ll see things like wholesalers creating shell companies to be able to distribute in different states. It’s a monstrosity.

What have you found to be most impactful in scaling the newsletter

When first starting out, I found that individual conversations can be so important to the growth and development of Trinita.

I’m sure this advice is well-worn, but it can be informative to reach out to a core group of fanantical users—the ones that open every newsletter—to ask them why the hell they’re spending their precious time reading your writing. When I first started doing this, I was surprised by what these subscribers liked, what they didn’t like, and what they wanted to see more of.

One thing that people don’t talk about enough is the fact that you can also do things that don’t scale to grow a newsletter early on. Sometimes, I’ll reach out to prominent people in the wine industry to tell them about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Other times, I’ll send an article to people I think might find it interesting. In the case of Trinita, the wine industry is very close knit. So, practically all of my subscriber growth has come from referrals.

Where do you see the newsletter going?

I haven’t monetized it yet. I transitioned to beehiiv because I saw the way they were building an engine for monetization. I still feel very new in the writing spaces, in the newsletter space. Trinita is only five months old. I plan on monetizing later on. I am excited about the referral program and paid tier system that I can use to offer more detailed industry deep dives for paid tiers.

There are so many opportunities to combat the information asymmetry that's so ubiquitous in this industry. From more accessible industry reports, to job boards, to harvest internships, there are so many amazing opportunities to improve the wine industry.

After building an audience of passionate winemakers and professionals, having a community resource like this will help modernize the industry and make it more accessible.

Final thoughts?

Life’s too short to drink shit wine.

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