Obvious Wines Takes The Guesswork Out Of Buying Wine

Brice Baillie was born in Reims, the capital of France’s Champagne region. So, you could say that he was destined to work in wine. Instead, he went to business school and became an accountant. Fortunately, his story doesn’t end there.

Moving from Paris to Los Angeles in 2015 is when he first began to consider a career in wine. And it’s not because a job in the wine industry is every Frenchman’s birthright–it’s because he quickly realized how complex and overwhelming the industry can be.

“Coming from Champagne, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about wine,” says Baillie. “But when I came to the U.S., I felt lost looking at all the bottles on the shelves.” In talking to his American friends, he found that many felt the same way, intimidated by ambiguous labels and staid descriptors.

He thought there had to be a better way to differentiate between bottles and communicate those differences to the consumer.

“Look at craft beer–the labels are so fun,” says Baillie. “It doesn’t mean that it’s not serious, well-made beer. But go to the wine section, and you just see a lot of the same boring vineyards and castles.”

He wanted to create an accessible and playful brand that still checked all the necessary boxes of high-quality, eco-conscious wine. So, he got to work cold-calling wineries in California to identify those who were open to partnerships and met his criteria. Eventually, he got a bite, and Obvious Wines was born.

Baillie’s first wine was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Paso Robles, CA. It was dark and bold, so in keeping with his mission of transparency and accessibility, he called it No. 01 Dark & Bold.

The straightforward label provided information on the grapes and provenance of each wine in a clear and simple way, making it easier for people to understand what they were drinking. It even provided pairing suggestions and an easy rating system to convey characteristics like sweetness, fruitiness, tannins and acidity.

His mission continued with No. 02 Bright & Crisp, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. Per the label, it’s high in citrus, low in florals and pairs nicely with sushi.

“Even among one varietal, there can be so many differences,” says Baillie. “Just because you’ve had Cabernet doesn’t mean you know what another one will be like. I wanted to make it easier for people.”

Today, the Obvious Wines portfolio includes six bottles. No. 03 Light & Lively is a Pinot Noir-Tempranillo blend from Chile. No. 06 Simply Rosé is an easy-drinking Provence rosé that’s recommended as an accompaniment to shrimp and salad. Everything is affordable, accessible and, well, obvious.

What began as a disruptive idea in LA has grown to other markets, including Austin, Dallas and Denver. People gravitate toward the helpful bottles, which stand out in a sea of sameness.

“Everyone should be able to enjoy good wine,” says Baillie. “You shouldn’t need to study or become an expert. With these wines, you just read the label, and you know what you’re getting.”

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Kevin Gray is a freelance journalist specializing in food, drinks, travel and fitness. His work has appeared in publications including the Dallas Morning News, Men's Hea...