Welcome to the ’fo
Just a heads-up - this is a long ‘about’ page, but it’s worth it. We like to give context, and it’s important to understand how all this came to be and why we do what we do. So, grab a big glass of something delicious and settle in...
We created the ’fo in a little garage in Adelaide back in 2011, and in just over 7 years we’ve grown to a tribe of over 500,000 wine-loving mofos around the world. And it’s quite fun.We love wine, and we wanted to build a place we thought we’d love to buy wine from, and hang out with other people who love wine. This has become our mission.
Unite a tribe with our love of wine, food and adventure.
Be proud of what we do, and our impact on the world.
And have fun.
Before we go on and talk about what we do, it’s important to understand why we do it. Let’s break that mission down shall we...
Unite a tribe with our love of wine, food and adventure.
Good wine is more than just flavour and texture. It’s friends and family and laughter and memories. Wine is history and culture, it’s science and poetry, and something else almost entirely magical.
Good wine is stories... in the making of the wine, and in the sharing. Your stories. The stories we make together.
But it’s also just a drink – a delicious drink, that can bring food alive and make you smile and feel something. Good wine should never be intimidating, or the domain of a few self-proclaimed ‘connoisseurs’ – that’s all just bowties and bullshit, and those days are gone.
We want to unite a tribe of people who love not only wine, but food and the adventure of experiencing it all. This life we have the privilege to live is worth celebrating and that’s what we want to do. That, we think, is a worthy purpose.
We want to be proud of what we do and our impact on the world.
This means not only being proud of what we achieve, but how we go about it.
Because good wine is an experience. Like good food, good music, good company, it adds colour and flavour to life, a layer of richness that just makes it all.
We’re building a global organisation that will be remembered for its positive impact on the planet and its people.
And we want to help the makers sustain and grow their businesses, so they can keep making good wine.
With supermarkets focusing more and more on homogenised, own-brand wines, we’re facing the future decline of good wines with provenance, character and stories. Real wine. Which means a lot of people won’t be able to experience good wine, and a lot of great producers will go out of business.
This is not what the drinkers want, and it’s not what the makers want, and we don’t intend to let that happen.
And have fun.
It is wine, after all, and if we’re not having fun, we’re not doing it right.
Right then, now that we’ve established why we do what we do, let’s look at what it is we do and how we do it…
Good wine only
We work directly with the best producers in the world to find the wines we love, and curate them to your taste.
These are the wines WE drink. If we don’t love it, we don’t sell it. Less than 5% of wines that cross our tasting bench actually make it to the ’fo.
It’s true, our office at Mofo HQ does resemble a wine bar more than an office most of the time. Every day our team are tasting wines to find the gems - those wines that stop you in your tracks and wines we know you’ll love. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, you’ll know about it.
With the most awesome tribe of wine-loving members in the country, we have the buying power to blow the next best market price out of the water.
This means you get to drink only the best wines for a price that cannot be matched. We think that’s pretty exciting.
We give the kind of experience we’d all like to have. Simple, honest. No bowties and bullshit. One click, and wine’s on your doorstep.
We welcome you into our world - of good wine, good food and good people embracing, sharing and celebrating this adventure called life.
We won’t bore you by rattling off a shopping list of obscure flavour characteristics that mean nothing to you. We will respect the wine however and give you all the info you need, but we’d rather tell a story and give you an insight to why we love this wine. Great wine is about so much more than its components, we’ll tell those stories.
That’s the experience you get at the ’fo. This is a place where wine is fun and the world is full of flavour. And we stand behind everything we do.
The mofo 100% happiness guarantee
At the ’fo, we want you to enjoy your wines. And of course we want you to keep coming back for more, and to tell all your friends about us.
We only sell the wines we love and drink ourselves, so WE think the wines are awesome, but everyone has their own tastes. So if you’re not happy with a wine you order from the ’fo, and it’s been less than a year since delivery, let us know. If you’ve opened two bottles or less in a case of twelve, or one in a case of six, we can organise pickup and give you a full credit or refund — you choose. If you’ve opened more, or we’re talking about a mixed case, just contact us and we’ll figure something out.
In any case, if you get a bottle you’re not thrilled with, please contact us. We really do want you to be 100% happy. In fact, we guarantee it.
The mofo tribe
Vinomofo is tribe who represent the most awesome tribe of wine lovers in the world, and that makes us very important to the wine industry. We represent the future and you’re in good company.
We also represent a revolution against the bowties and bullshit of the wine snobs and posers who think wine is for the chosen few elite and educated. It’s not. We think everybody should be able to enjoy good wine, without feeling intimidated.
The way people engage with wine now has changed and that’s a good thing. We want you to feel comfortable to share, to learn, to enjoy wine with us.
It’s free to join, but we ask you to respect the community, and respect the amazing producers who share their wines with us. They are legends, and we all have to do our bit to help sustain and grow their businesses, so they can keep making awesome wines.
Basically, it all comes down to keeping it real, doing the right thing – by us, our producers and each other.
One of the coolest things about Vinomofo are our Secret deals — these are deals so epic on wines so awesome that the only way we can get our hands on them is by agreeing to keep the identity of the wine and the producer secret. They’re happy for you to drink them, but they don’t want to see them advertised anywhere at that price.
We ask you to keep that secret with us, so that we all get to keep enjoying them. If we blow it, we won’t be able to get these deals anymore. It’s pretty simple, and very important.
The mofo story
Though Vinomofo was launched in 2011, it really started life back in 2007 in the garage of brothers-in-law and fellow wine geeks Justin Dry and Andre Eikmeier, who just wanted to do something cool for wine geeks and producers.
Andre was excited by the ‘voice of the people’, the idea of real people rating and reviewing wines and sharing their recommendations, and Justin had discovered facebook whilst travelling in South America, and wanted to create a social network for wine nerds.
They shared a belief that wine should not be about ‘bowties and bullshit’, and Christmas Eve 2006, no doubt after a few vinos, they decided to start a business together (brothers in law — what could possibly go wrong?). A few months later, Qwoff was born — Australia’s first online wine community site.
But more than a site, a tribe was born. A tribe of Qwoffers. They were given a voice through the site, and through the brand new social media platforms of facebook and twitter. People were rating and reviewing the wines they were drinking, sharing their discoveries, recommending wines to their friends.
It was all about sharing good wines, keeping it real, and having fun.
Wine producers were excited about getting their wines in front of the Qwoffers, but they weren’t so keen on the idea of paying anything to do so, and the boys soon found themselves struggling to pay the bills let alone support their families. In fact, by Christmas 2008 they were stone broke, and under real pressure to give it all up and go and get jobs.
But they stuck at it, and in May 2009 they found an angel investor willing to put a bit of money in to see where the business could go. They moved out of their garage and set up a cool warehouse space in an old restored brewery in Hindmarsh, Adelaide, and hired their first employee, a developer named Oli.
Now, Justin had always dreamed of traveling the country in a kombi, surfing and drinking local wines from Margaret River to McLaren Vale, so later in 2009 they bought a beaten-up old kombi that was abandoned in a lemon orchard in the Barossa (should have read the signs!) and started on a great wine adventure, filming it all in a youtube show called Road to Vino. It was on that journey that they made friends with some of the greatest producers and wine personalities of Australia.
They became known as the ‘digital wine guys’, the voice of Gen X and Y wine-lovers, embracing social and mobile technology as it emerged, and encouraging the wine industry to embrace it and grow their own tribes.
It was a lot of fun, an amazing ride, but still not many people were prepared to pay them to do what they were so passionate about. The angel capital ran out, things got tough again, and by the end of 2010, the boys were faced again with the choice to either come up with a new plan that would actually make money, or give it all up.
It was coming back from a short Christmas break made particularly stressful and emotional by the fact that after nearly four years of trying, they were broke again (only this time with a lease and staff to pay), that Justin came into the office with a new idea: “Let’s start a wine deals site”.
Andre didn’t like it at first — he was worried that selling wine would be selling out, that it would be betraying their Qwoffers and their promise to recommend only wines they genuinely loved.
In the end, they asked their tribe how they would feel about it.
“Hell yes! You’ve been crapping on about wine with us for the last four years, it’s about time you shut up and let us buy the stuff from you. We trust you, you know what we like, sure we want to buy wine from you! As long as you’re only selling wines you really love…”
And so Justin and Andre teamed up with another aspiring young wine entrepreneur, Barossa boy Leigh Morgan, and together they launched Vinomofo on April 12, 2011.
Or as it was then called… Vinomojo.
What’s in a name?
So how DID the name Vinomofo come about, and does it really mean Wine Motherf**ker?
Erm, yes it does, but we can explain…
The boys were all set to launch the site as Vinomojo — great name, right? Get your vino mojo working, all that stuff — they had a whole brand and a whole vernacular built around it. They had everything ready to go — the website, the facebook and twitter pages, they’d run a 6 week teaser campaign, which had stirred up plenty of interest, with thousands of people signed up and eagerly awaiting the launch of Vinomojo on the Monday…
And then on Friday afternoon, three days out from launch… they got a letter from a trademark attorney, ordering them to cease and desist from launching under the name, claiming it was in conflict with their client’s wine brand.
No worries, we’ll be able to sort this out, they thought. But in a phone call with the CEO of the public company that owned that trademark, they were not-so-subtly warned that their cheque book was likely bigger than the boys’, and that they would not hold back in protecting their IP.
So the mofo boys went into a bit of a crisis meeting. Though advised that they would likely win the case if they fought it, they didn’t have the money to take it to court, nor the time, so they decided that we had better change the name.
Figured something that sounded and looked like Vinomojo would be good, since they’d already invested effort and marketing in the brand. So they’re throwing names around… Vinodojo, Vinomogo… it’s late, they’re tired (probably drinking a few vinos), and Justin comes out with:
“Why don’t we call it VinoMOFO, for the mother f**kers who are trying to steal our mofo?”
They all had a laugh, “yeah, yeah, that’s funny, we wish, we totally should do that…” and then all sort of looked at each other, and it was like… “we can’t can we? Can we? No…”
So, there you go. Vinomofo. That’s how it came about. They honestly planned to change the name back when they had time and money to sort out the trademark, which never happened, of course. They did win the trademark — two years later.
Bit late, but cheers…
It has been an amazing ride, but not without its challenges. People liked the site, and the wines, and orders grew fast. After three months, Vinomofo was on the radar, and the big retailers and distributors didn’t like it one bit.
They started putting pressure on producers not to offer their wines to the Vinomofo tribe, and we faced the very real risk being shut out of the industry by the big retailers, just as things were getting interesting.
We had to grow the tribe, fast, to have the buying power to be valuable enough to producers that they would push back against that sort of pressure.
Even our good mates weren’t going to risk upsetting their distributors and the big retailers over a dozen cases here and there.
So we hit the pitching circuit again, in search of investors. In early 2012, after pitching to VCs and a couple of large media companies, we ended up partnering with the Catch of the Day group, who loved what Vinomofo stood for, and had a lot of customers themselves.
With all the media hype surrounding the new partnership, Vinomofo did indeed grow fast, as more and more people discovered the site.
And the mofo deals got better and better with the buying power that came with the growing tribe of happy mofos, and the backing of the Catch group.
We moved from our converted brewery in Adelaide to the Catch group headquarters in Melbourne, and a new era began. The team grew, and the company grew.
It was another amazing chapter, a big learning curve, but we missed that start-up culture, and we missed our independence. And so in June 2013, with the help of a small group of private investors, we bought the company back.
We moved into a cool loft space in Richmond, the new home of Mofo HQ, and started what would be the third era of the company.
We re-launched a brand new site, and over the next 12 months, grew the team from 10 to 50, and the mofo tribe celebrated Vinomofo’s renewed independence along with the founders.
We were awarded the fastest growth tech company in 2013 by Deloitte, and won a host of startup and web awards for our site, our growth, our company and our culture.
Now, the mofo tribe has grown to over 500,000, and the best producers in the world are only too happy to share their awesome wines with our mofos.
But our culture hasn’t changed, and nor has our mission — we’re still just a bunch of wine geeks finding and sharing the wines we love, stepping up, caring more, keeping it real, doing some good and having fun as we try to inspire the world to taste more of life.
You made it! Thank you so much for reading what’s possibly the world’s longest about page. You must be thirsty.