Lance Lemon and Kristen Gardner Beal founded their startup wine-selling business, RichWine, with the goal of bringing a wide selection of clean-farmed wines to a diverse audience in the Richmond region and Virginia.
“We are a boutique, online wine retailer, and we focus on natural, organic, biodynamic wines,” Beal said. “Any wine that has honest, clean farm practices, we will carry.”
That policy means that RichWine looks to sell wines that are produced using organic, chemical-free farm practices and without added, artificial ingredients.
“That is a practice a lot of wineries are switching to, for more conscious and healthy drinking of wine,” Lemon said.
Founded in November 2019, RichWine now has about 200 wines available for sale on its website at richwinerva.com, for a wide range of prices.
The company’s office is at Hatch Kitchen RVA, a commercial kitchen space in Richmond’s Manchester area that houses numerous startup food and beverage businesses.
RichWine’s co-founders want to open a retail wine store eventually, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, the business is delivering wine directly to customers within the Richmond region and shipping to customers elsewhere in Virginia.
That means Lemon and Beal are putting in many hours a week driving around the region, bringing wine to their customers’ doorsteps. Their goal is same-day delivery in the Richmond area.
The startup also offers memberships with regular delivery of wines along with food pairing suggestions.
“We get to build relationships,” Lemon added. “We get to meet people and have conversations. They let us know what kind of wines they like. That customer relationship is only going to grow as we move into our retail space.”
The co-founders got into the wine business in a somewhat roundabout way. Lemon and Beal both grew up in Hanover County and attended the University of Virginia. After school, Beal started a career in investment banking and worked in Utah and then New York. Lemon also moved to New York to pursue a career in acting.
“I have been acting since I was a kid, and it is my passion,” Lemon said. “I moved to New York to pursue acting opportunities.” But his job to pay the bills was working for wine distributor and marketer Frederick Wildman & Sons.
While in New York, Lemon and Beal discussed the possibility of opening a tapas restaurant and bar, but they eventually tabled the idea. Lemon and his wife eventually moved back to the Richmond area and, when Beal returned to the area, too, they discussed getting into the wine business.
Their first gig in the business was curating a wine selection for Urban Hang Suite social café on East Broad Street in Richmond that is owned by Lemon’s sister, radio personality Kelli Lemon. They set up shop at Hatch Kitchen in August.
Lance Lemon said part of RichWine’s mission is to introduce wines to a more diverse customer base.
“We are two people of color, and we love spreading the knowledge of wine to other minorities and people of color,” he said. “It is an industry that was built and structured around white men. Black people are not seen as wine people, but we are growing that and we love that. We drink wine with our friends and then we get to turn around and introduce it to other people.”