Career Change by Former Swimmer Meg Rulli Inspired Flipturn Cellars Wines (Discount Offer in Article)

Photo Courtesy: Flipturn Cellars

Career Change by Former Swimmer Meg Rulli Inspired Flipturn Cellars Wines

Metaphorically, Meg Rulli was diving into a new career. Tangibly, though, it involved a literal ton of grapes.

Rulli, a former swimmer at Babson College, had spent a career in corporate America as a business management consultant before she and her husband decided to quit their jobs in 2012. They traveled the world for a year, then settled in Portland to start a digital marketing agency in 2014.

By 2019, following a spark of interest in winemaking from her travels that had stoked into a consuming passion, she was ready to get her hands dirty. And that meant, just before the world shut down in the spring of 2020, signing a contract to deliver a ton of Syrah grapes from Eastern Washington and renting time at a crush facility that autumn to figure out how to make wine.

Photo Courtesy: Flipturn Cellars

“I just thought, well, I’m going to take this year and really learn how to make wine and do it by putting myself to the test,” Rulli said recently.

The result, more than three years later, is Flipturn Cellars, a nod to Rulli’s athletic career and her bold change of directions. Rulli’s first wine was the 2020 Syrah. She’s since added a 2022 skin contact chardonnay, a dry Riesling from the Colombia Gorge region as well as a white blend. She also offers a pair of 2021 vintages, a cabernet Franc and a cabernet sauvignon, bottled in 2023. In addition to being available on her website, they are served at several restaurants in the Portland area.

Her interest was first kindled on that world tour with her husband, seeing the world’s greatest wine regions and learning whatever she could. The native of Ithaca, New York – firmly craft beer country, though in the emerging Finger Lakes wine region – found the culture and science of wine first as a cure for corporate burnout, and then as something much more.

“I think that’s where my passion for wine really kicked off,” she said. “We were going to some amazing places with these incredible wine regions in South America and Europe where so much of the culture and food was dictated around the wines that were grown in those areas. So I found this growing curiosity during our travels to learn more about wine and explore more.”

By 2019, when she decided to take courses with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), she knew it wasn’t a phase. She volunteered as a harvest worker for anyone that would have her extra set of hands, provided she could make connections and pick their brains. Instead of an academic study if viticulture, she was “transfixed with the grape-to-glass transformation,” and the more hands-on the role the better.

The name fell into place at a party in the summer of 2021, while her first vintage of Syrah was aging for 20 months in barrels. It took a socially distanced gathering at her house that summer, with four friends, a whiteboard, pizza and (plenty of) wine to brainstorm.

Photo Courtesy: Flipturn Cellars

“One word that really stood out to us was flipturn, and my girlfriends immediately as soon as I said it just loved it because they were like, Yes, this is so this is so you,” she said. “And it kind of ties it kind of brings everything full circle where it ties your lifelong passion and hobby of swimming into your now adulthood where you have this new passion of wine and also just this flip and turn an unexpected twist into the world of winemaking and diving headfirst into this industry.”

Rulli’s focus with the grapes is on “minimal intervention.” As she writes, “I try not to monkey around with the wine too much,” letting the grapes do the work. The brand Rulli has constructed has more visible fingerprints of her journey, though not overpoweringly so. She has rigorously documented her journey, the ups and the downs, on social media, with a digital marketer’s knack for storytelling. The incorporation of her personal history into the brand, with labels that all have an aquatic theme, epitomizes that. It’s also connected Rulli, who has a zeal for networking within the wine community, to a broad population of former swimmers with whom the brand resonates.

Rulli, who swam under her maiden name Meg Batley at Babson, sees swimming as having prepared her for the “lone wolf” focus on winemaking that she has adopted. A competitive swimmer from age five through college, her singular focus on a goal in her career echoes how she once applied herself in the pool.

“I think swimming gives you so much,” she said. “There’s so much grit and determination that comes with jumping in a pool for five hours of practice every day, plunging yourself into cold water first thing in the morning. I feel that it made me such a hard worker. And I feel that also with swimming, you’re constantly competing against yourself and trying to challenge yourself to get your personal bests with your times and races. It just requires so much mental grit, that I think that it really translates well into the business world with constantly going outside of your comfort zone, pushing yourself to your limits, also just being a team player and leadership.”

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