Meet Your Merchant: Future burns bright for Truckee’s Rescued Wine
October 15, 2014
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Imagine you could combine three of your passions into one product, and that one product could provide the framework for an entire business that succeeded in not only Truckee and North Lake Tahoe, but nationwide as well.
It may sound too good to be true, but Craig and Amy Davies have found a way to do just that.
Their Truckee-based business, Rescued Wine, is a conglomeration of the couple's principles and interests.
For Craig, it's about incorporating his creativity in eco-friendly candle making with his commitment to recycling and repurposing glass bottles.
“Our biggest thing is we want to stay Tahoe-Truckee based, so that limits our growth, but keeping it local and handmade is what’s most important to us.”
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For his wife, Amy, it's about merging her love of wine with her propensity for giving back.
Among their selection, Rescued Wine offers a High Fives logo candle and donates 50 percent of each sale back to the foundation.
They also contribute 2 percent of every candle sale to animal rescue organizations like the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.
"My wife is a dog lover so we wanted to tie that in," said Craig, his sky-blue eyes beaming as he pulled a few candles from a display case at his studio on West River Street. "I have to give her credit for using recycled wine bottles too — it really came from her love of being in California with all the great wine we have at our fingertips."
AMERICAN MADE AWARDS
Since its inception nearly three years ago, Craig and Amy have maintained the handmade quality of each candle by focusing on small batch production, by using all-natural soybean wax, and by sourcing materials made only in the United States.
That handmade craftsmanship is what attracted folks at the Martha Stewart American Made program to select Rescued Wine as one of their finalists for the American Made Awards.
Ten winners will be announced on or around midnight on Friday, Oct. 17, and each will receive $10,000 to put toward their business, plus an all-expense paid trip to New York City to attend the awards event, and the opportunity to be featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine, SiriusXM radio and the Martha Stewart website.
"Every single candle is slightly different because each one is truly handcrafted," Craig said. "If we wanted to go really big, we could buy the glass, line up the tables and just pour it without doing all the labor, but we're not trying to be the biggest or the best, we just want to keep it 100 percent handmade."
'KEEPING IT LOCAL'
Every week, Craig spends a couple of days driving around Reno to collect discarded wine bottles from participating resorts and casinos, where the bottles would otherwise end up in a landfill.
He hauls the delivery to his studio where one of five employees helps sort, cut, smooth, clean, and polish the glass.
There are countless advantages to using recycled wine bottles, the biggest being sustainability and waste reduction, but the thick glass also provides a top-quality base that can withstand a burning wick without running the risk of cracking or breaking.
"The soy-based wax we make burns for up to 80 hours, so it's important to start with a glass product that can support that kind of repeated heat," Craig said.
The base of the bottle goes through an extensive cleaning process — using only nontoxic products — before the wax is added.
Each batch of wax produces approximately 100 candles that are infused with essential oils and inspired from wine varietals like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and the company's best-selling Cabernet.
On average, Davies and his crew whip up a couple hundred candles a day, which isn't much compared to its larger competitors who generate around 5,000 candles daily.
"Our biggest thing is we want to stay Tahoe-Truckee based, so that limits our growth, but keeping it local and handmade is what's most important to us," Craig said.
As owner of Tahoe Candle Company, Craig has been in the candle-making business for nearly 20 years, but it wasn't until four years ago when his daughter, Makenna, was born that he decided to redirect his craft into the Rescued Wine moniker.
"My wife and I wanted to move away from the retail side of things so we could spend more time at home with the family," he said about closing Tahoe Candle Company's doors in downtown Truckee.
Through trade shows, word of mouth, and a strong online presence, Rescued Wine has grown exponentially with retail clients nationwide, but it's the expanding Davies family that continues to validate the business's success.
Four months ago, Craig and Amy welcomed the birth of their son, Will, whose arrival further proved the advantages of being one's own boss.
"The benefit is I get to spend weekends and holidays with my family," Craig said. "Coming home to them is the best part of my day."
— Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at email@example.com.
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