A Wine For Texas Tastes
John and Carly Whitehurst have created a line of wine with broad appeal.
There’s no shortage of relaxing spots to enjoy a glass of wine across Midway’s Districts, and now you can make your next wine selection a vintage crafted by Houston locals. What makes the couple behind this exciting new Texas wine so unique? They spotted an absence in the market and sought to fill it.
On a family trip to California, John Whitehurst found himself trying to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. By MacGyvering some unconventional tools, he finally popped out the cork. Impressed by his handiwork, his brother-in-law remarked, “You’re like a sommelier, John.” John’s wife, Carly, misheard him and thought he said, “You’re like a Sauvignon John.” Laughter ensued, but John and Carly had the sparks of an idea.
Returning to Houston, where John worked in banking and Carly works as a school teacher, the Whitehursts began doing some research. The couple couldn’t get Sauvignon John out of their head—it was a catchy name that was memorable and didn’t take itself too seriously. John acquired the domain name, and the couple began to get serious finding out what was required to get into the wine business.
John arranged to stay with an old friend out in San Francisco as he took a trip to California to soak in all the wine knowledge Napa had to offer. Upon arriving at the airport car rental lot, he picked out the only pickup truck to be found, in true Texas fashion. Every day he drove his white Toyota Tacoma rental across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Napa Valley until he acquired enough knowledge about wine and the industry to begin working on a serious business plan.
“We’re in Texas. It’s hot nine or ten months a year here. We want something that’s going to be refreshing.”
At this stage, the Whitehursts started looking for brokers in California—a difficult task because Sauvignon John began as a small operation.
“I got a lot of people that said your business idea is good, but your quantities are too small for us,” John says. After speaking to hundreds of brokers, the Whitehursts came upon a woman who decided to take a chance on their new brand. She had a passion for entrepreneurs. “She interviewed us and said, okay, I like your story,” John says. “I like you and I like your wife. I'll take a chance on you guys.” The business plan was becoming a reality.
As the Whitehursts began developing their first blends, they continued researching the wine market in the Houston area. They found that there was a gap in the market. Consumers could buy an eight-dollar wine that tasted like it cost exactly that, or a much tastier forty-dollar wine, which was a little pricey for some consumers.
It’s not that there weren’t wines at the twenty-dollar price point, it’s that there weren’t wines of high quality at that price. They sought to fill that gap in the market—to produce quality wine in a more affordable range. “We wanted a really high quality at that $20 price point—for that middle market of new wine drinkers,” John says. The Whitehurst’s hands-on approach—going straight to the source in California to create the wines and bringing the wine straight to the consumer themselves, without a middleman, allows Sauvignon John to deliver a quality of wine previously unavailable at the $20 price point.
Beyond striving to deliver an ultra-premium wine of great value, John and Carly were also passionate about producing a wine with broad appeal that met Texas tastes. “I always told the sommeliers that I wanted this to be a wine that appeals to80% of wine drinkers,” John says. The different varietals are designed to complement the Texas climate. “We’re in Texas. It’s hot nine or ten months a year here. We want something that’s going to be refreshing,” John says.
Sauvignon John began with a small batch of two varietals. Within a month of their launch date, they’d sold out every last bottle. The business has continued to grow from there. They now offer Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and a Rosé.
The Whitehursts are proud that their wines are completely American grown, produced, and distributed. The label reflects this, featuring the Sauvignon Script as an homage to the calligraphic signature John Hancock splashed across the Declaration of Independence. The label also features 13 stars, remembering the original 13 colonies, and a patriotic poem penned by John Whitehurst himself.
“We liked the idea that it was an all-American brand—it's bottled here, every piece of glass, cork paper, everything we ship in, everything's done in America. We thought that this was the perfect label for that,” John says.
The brand is a true labor of love, with the Whitehursts handling all aspects of distribution and social media on their own. This gives the brand an intimate feel, with them being truly connected to their consumers, and it also ensures that their prices stay down. Carly helps run their innovative social media presence, where they welcome input and feedback from customers. Some bottles of the wine feature a QR code on the label leading to a curated Spotify playlist with specific vibes for each varietal.
What began with a missing corkscrew and a misheard comment has led to a life changing adventure into the world of wine. Sauvignon John crafts California grapes into delicious wine curated specifically for their Texas customers. Two years into their journey, they’re already spreading across the state of Texas.
You can find Sauvignon John on the wine list at these locations across Midway’s Districts: Daily Gather, Dish Society, Sweet Paris, Jonathan’s the Rub, The Palm, Yi Peng Thai Dining, Porter’s, Juanita’s Tex-Mex, The Moran, and Cavalry Court. Sauvignon John also ships anywhere from their website: https://www.sauvignonjohn.com.