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Industry Profile: Jessica Bell of HaloVino

BY JEANETTE HURT
PHOTO BY DAVID SZYMANSKI

Nov. 2018

Jessica Bell hated lugging fragile glasses around when she taught wine classes out of town. But the other option ­— using plastic cups — left a bad taste in her mouth. And a bad aroma in her nose. A certified sommelier, Bell wondered if there might be a reusable, recyclable, dishwasher-safe, plastic glass that could bring out the best of her vintages while on the go. There wasn’t. So Bell, a mom of two, decided to create her own and became an entrepreneur in the process. HaloVino debuted in 2016, and Bell’s been expanding its reach ever since. Today, her glasses are used in arenas, art galleries, liquor stores and on plenty of Lake Country boats.

On her way to a wine tasting in Illinois, Bell called in to chat with MKE Lifestyle about wine, glasses and giving back.
 

How did you come up with the idea for HaloVino?

I worked in a winery in Spain, then in New York City, and I studied the highest levels of wine to become a sommelier in New York City. Then  I returned to Milwaukee, where I ran a wine school out of both Milwaukee and Chicago, teaching both sommeliers and wine enthusiasts. I had just had my second child, and I thought I was going to slow down, but I was invited to teach an event at a venue that didn’t allow glass. At the time, the only non-glass option cost $5 a glass, and it wasn’t dishwasher safe. I thought, “This is not right.” So I looked all around, then decided to do it myself. It took 18 months to get the mold prototype done, and then I did a Kickstarter campaign. Now we can do 420,000 glasses a day, and I exported my very first batch of glasses to Australia this week.
 

How are you expanding the business?

We are making a completely dishwasher-safe version with personalized logos. And we are making HaloTotes bags that are dishwasher safe and waterproof so that our customers can take their glasses with them, use them and then put them back in the bag and zip them up to wash them at home. That makes it easier to take them to a concert or a ballgame or on a boat. That also prevents waste.
 

Where are your glasses used?

We are now in the AmericanAirlines Arena, where the Miami Heat play, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, and we are also with the Bucks, the Brewers and now the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. We are also in a lot of bars and stores, both big and small. There is one large wine bar in Tampa that goes through 1,000 of our glasses a week.
 

Giving back is important to you, especially for children’s health. Tell us about that.

We had a personal experience [with our youngest child] having to spend a lot of time in the hospital, so it’s very important to us to give back. We will give away any glasses for events that help charities like Children’s Hospital or Make-A-Wish Foundation. We would like more people to take advantage of this; we want to help people who help sick children. The other area we focus on is sustainability. We really believe in recycling, and our glasses, made of #5 plastic, are recyclable in some communities, and they’re always accepted at Whole Foods stores. Our glasses should not contribute to landfills.
 

Give Thanks For A Perfect Pairing
BY JEANETTE HURT

Trained as a sommelier, and a wine lover by nature, Jessica Bell is her family’s go-to expert for the perfect pairings for each element of a Thanksgiving feast. Now she’s yours too.

With the turkey and trimmings:
Algueira red wines from the Ribeira Sacra region of Spain, or northern Portuguese red wines

“I love Northern Portuguese reds, along with reds from the Galicia region of Spain — just some fabulous, underexplored regions of wine, with great acid and great concentration and depth of fruit. Even better, these wines are regional. Those reds just go fabulously with Thanksgiving. They have a little bit of earthy undertones and dark, deep fruits that complement a Thanksgiving dinner.”

If you prefer white:
Rich white Rioja Blanco

“I love full-bodied whites that aren’t necessarily oaked, with a little bit controlled oxidation, giving it a full body and notes of dried apple,” says Bell.

With dessert:
A hard, semi-sweet cider like Honeycrisp Hard Cider by Stockholm, Wisconsin’s Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery

“A semi-sweet cider is a great pairing for all pies, from apple pies to pecan and pumpkin, because it has not only sweetness and fruit, but its effervescence and acid help cleanse the palate,” Bell explains.



 

This story ran in the Nov. 2018 issue of: