Since turning 21, Yashar Shayan has been drinking in knowledge about wine and turning it into a career. Now he’s using technology and youthful energy to create a business that delivers undiscovered gems to wine lovers throughout Puget Sound.
Shayan, a native of Iran who grew up in Vancouver, Wash., has launched Impulse Wine, a one-man operation that sells wines to an exclusive list of aficionados.
“I started Impulse Wine because I saw this new wave of wineries that are at a level of quality higher than ever before,” he said. “This was a great opportunity to take these wines and show them to wine lovers who won’t see them because they’re new and not popular yet.”
Shayan, now 30, is part of a young generation of Seattle wine experts coming up through the industry. He became fascinated with wine while earning his sociology degree at the University of Washington. After finishing his studies, he dived into the wine industry, learning winemaking at Matthews Cellars and Efeste in Woodinville, then working retail at Wine World & Spirits in Wallingford. Not satisfied, he jumped into the restaurant side of the business at Seastar, Wild Ginger, bin on the lake and Palisade, ultimately landing a job as wine director of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island near Bellingham.
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He came back to Seattle last March and began work on launching Impulse Wine, a virtual wine shop that hit the Internet in June.
Here’s how it works: Shayan tastes wines everywhere with everyone. He finds wines made in tiny amounts that few have heard of. He then writes about a wine and sends an email to his growing list of followers, who have the choice of ordering.
He launched Impulse with Manu Propria, a small Woodinville winery run by his longtime buddy, Mike Macmorran. The first Manu Propria wine, a 2010 cabernet sauvignon, was sold out, but Shayan managed to snag the last case.
“I had 12 bottles, and it sold out that day.”
The same scenario has played out many times in Impulse’s first six months, both with local wines as well as pinot noirs from Sonoma County and rieslings from Germany.
As a virtual wine merchant, Shayan keeps no inventory on hand. Instead, he makes arrangements with wineries and importers to feature their wines and estimate how much he’ll sell. After his customers have a chance to order, he buys and delivers the wine.
It’s a “just-in-time” model that keeps Impulse a lean startup that doesn’t compete with wine shops or groceries. Instead, he flies low on the radar, acting as a virtual personal wine expert for those 700 wine lovers who have joined his list so far.
His customers are tech-savvy folks who aren’t afraid to order online, especially with the trust factor Shayan has built in the past nine years.
Sign up to receive Shayan’s wine offers at www.impulsewine.com.
Andy Perdue is a wine journalist and international judge. John Lok is a Seattle Times staff photographer.