After working for a few years as an attorney, Yoav Gilat realized his interests lay elsewhere. So he changed course and joined the wine industry. “There’s something magical about wine that brings people together,” Gilat says. “Wine is like pixie dust that creates uplifting experiences. You don’t find that in other industries.”
While at Haas, Gilat did a case study on Bonny Doon Vineyard and met John Williams, owner and winemaker of Frog’s Leap. Those experiences helped clarify his own path forward.
In 2006, he founded Cannonball Wine Company. Rather than buying a vineyard, Gilat outsourced that part of the business and hired a talented winemaker to work closely with growers. “Even though we don’t own the vineyards, we have input in the way the vines are grown,” he says.
His initial vision was to create a delicious cabernet sauvignon priced under $20, a gap in the market, as he saw it. Cannonball released its first 5,000 cases in 2007. The next year, the recession hit. This could have been disastrous for the company, but the attractive price tag—around $15—made it an affordable luxury and instead marked the beginning of exceptional growth. Since then, the company has expanded to produce a selection of wines under different labels—including Angels & Cowboys and Atelier—and has partnered with New Zealand and Portuguese wineries, all under the parent name Share a Splash Wine Co.