Local winemaker taps new liquor line amid expansion plan

Gwen Hurt, founder of Shoe Crazy Wines. (Photos courtesy Shoe Crazy Wine)

Armed with a new lineup of spirits, a local wine brand is headed west.

Shoe Crazy Wine is preparing to begin distribution to California, Nevada and Hawaii, while also recently launching liquor products such as peach whiskey, pineapple vodka and a variety of moonshines flavored like apple cobbler, coffee and vanilla ice cream.

Founder Gwen Hurt said Shoe Crazy’s spirits target demographic is women, with most of the new beverages clocking in at between 25 and 30 percent alcohol-by-volume.

“We wanted to go for a female palate, which tends to be a little bit sweeter, a little softer. We didn’t want it to have a harsh bite,” Hurt said. “It’s just crazy how excited people are to see something that’s not 100-proof or tastes harsh.”

Shoe Crazy debuted its spirits in the spring, a lineup that included an apple cobbler moonshine. 

Hurt said the company develops its spirits recipes in-house then sends them to be procured at unnamed distilleries in Virginia and New York. 750-milliliter bottles of Shoe Crazy’s spirits are priced between $26 and $42. The new products are available in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, but Hurt said she’s looking to grow the spirits’ footprint the same way she has the wine.

Since launching the company in 2014, Hurt has gradually grown Shoe Crazy’s distribution network, landing on the shelves of Walmarts, Sam’s Clubs and Food Lions on much of the East Coast.

“We’re being sold in Alabama up through Pennsylvania,” Hurt said. “We’ve increased our little ‘shoe-print’ quite a bit over the last few years.”

Shoe Crazy and its staff of 11 is based out of Startup Virginia’s 1717 Innovation Center in Shockoe Bottom. It also has an office and warehouse in Petersburg.

The company is fully self-funded, though Hurt said she’d be open to taking on investors, particularly as she’s looking to expand.

Shoe Crazy’s wines, which are produced by contract wineries in California, are scheduled to be available on the West Coast sometime in the first quarter of 2023. And Hurt said she’s not stopping there.

She said she’s looking to get into more states on the East Coast, as well as faraway lands like India.

Hurt said she aspires to grow Shoe Crazy to the levels of Diageo and Constellation Brands, the conglomerates that own the likes of Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray and Corona.

“My goal is to be the first black woman-owned adult beverage company. I dream big. That’s where I see Shoe Crazy,” Hurt said.

Another local packaged drink maker, Fore Craft Cocktails, recently grew its own footprint, signing on to market its golf-themed canned cocktails outside of Virginia.

Gwen Hurt, founder of Shoe Crazy Wines. (Photos courtesy Shoe Crazy Wine)

Armed with a new lineup of spirits, a local wine brand is headed west.

Shoe Crazy Wine is preparing to begin distribution to California, Nevada and Hawaii, while also recently launching liquor products such as peach whiskey, pineapple vodka and a variety of moonshines flavored like apple cobbler, coffee and vanilla ice cream.

Founder Gwen Hurt said Shoe Crazy’s spirits target demographic is women, with most of the new beverages clocking in at between 25 and 30 percent alcohol-by-volume.

“We wanted to go for a female palate, which tends to be a little bit sweeter, a little softer. We didn’t want it to have a harsh bite,” Hurt said. “It’s just crazy how excited people are to see something that’s not 100-proof or tastes harsh.”

Shoe Crazy debuted its spirits in the spring, a lineup that included an apple cobbler moonshine. 

Hurt said the company develops its spirits recipes in-house then sends them to be procured at unnamed distilleries in Virginia and New York. 750-milliliter bottles of Shoe Crazy’s spirits are priced between $26 and $42. The new products are available in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, but Hurt said she’s looking to grow the spirits’ footprint the same way she has the wine.

Since launching the company in 2014, Hurt has gradually grown Shoe Crazy’s distribution network, landing on the shelves of Walmarts, Sam’s Clubs and Food Lions on much of the East Coast.

“We’re being sold in Alabama up through Pennsylvania,” Hurt said. “We’ve increased our little ‘shoe-print’ quite a bit over the last few years.”

Shoe Crazy and its staff of 11 is based out of Startup Virginia’s 1717 Innovation Center in Shockoe Bottom. It also has an office and warehouse in Petersburg.

The company is fully self-funded, though Hurt said she’d be open to taking on investors, particularly as she’s looking to expand.

Shoe Crazy’s wines, which are produced by contract wineries in California, are scheduled to be available on the West Coast sometime in the first quarter of 2023. And Hurt said she’s not stopping there.

She said she’s looking to get into more states on the East Coast, as well as faraway lands like India.

Hurt said she aspires to grow Shoe Crazy to the levels of Diageo and Constellation Brands, the conglomerates that own the likes of Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray and Corona.

“My goal is to be the first black woman-owned adult beverage company. I dream big. That’s where I see Shoe Crazy,” Hurt said.

Another local packaged drink maker, Fore Craft Cocktails, recently grew its own footprint, signing on to market its golf-themed canned cocktails outside of Virginia.

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