Rodney Foster Combines His Taste for Elegance and His Entrepreneurial Flair to Launch a Line of Fine Wines

Warm wine has not exactly set the US wine market on fire (despite that poor metaphor), but Rodney Foster aims to change that.

He was in St Moritz in the winter of 2011 on vacation, and while in that idyllic Swiss town was urged to give the local warmed wine a taste. He grew to savor the taste, and decided to bring it to the US. Foster opted to make it better and organic. Within a year, he had launched Edelheiss Wine. That is an incredible timeline by any measure.

“The name is a twist on the famous Swiss flower,” Foster told me in our recent chat. “It is a perfect name for the brand.”

Foster described how he found an organic vineyard in Germany and overcame the nearly impenetrable challenges of getting the wine registered in every state domestically. “The big spirits companies have internal teams to handle registrations, I did it on my own,” Foster explained proudly. He also changed up the marketing to include not only a room temperature serving suggestion (like a traditional red wine), but also marketed the warmer serving suggestion. Like a mulled wine, Edelheiss is fortified with brandy.

Asked about other challenges in achieving his goal of US distribution, Foster described the inevitability of buying out his German partner; it seems the latter’s five day European work ethic was insufficient to keep up with Foster’s American 24/7/365 sensibilities.

Foster told me about his growth plans, to expand the brand with a sparkling rose, a white Riesling, and even a hemp / cannabis blend from Australia.

After discussing his biggest challenges to date, I asked about his top priority. “Consumer awareness, without a doubt,” replied Foster. He then described the extent of his outreach, including getting the brand on reality TV shows, placement at Steve Harvey benefit events, as well as select sponsored fashion week and charity events. “I need to be strategic in how I engage with celebrities and endorsements,” Foster advised.

Foster has been featured in various lifestyle magazines and garnered notoriety as one of DC’s “best-dressed men.” He has also partnered with industry brands Swagg Boutique, Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce, Sirius XM, and Saks Fifth Avenue for charity.

His next move is international expansion. Foster is already in discussions for distribution in Africa and Asia. “There is a ‘red obsession’ underway,” Foster explained. “Wealthy Asians are buying Bordeaux vineyards and recently a bottle was sold for one billion dollars. That’s with a B.”

“My biggest accomplishment is seeing the bottles on shelves and on TV. I made a huge investment in blood, sweat and tears, and that is needed to go into what you believe.”

As we wound up our chat, Foster confirmed, “You need to keep working it. Nothing happens overnight.”

More information about Edelheiss Wines here.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.