Ryan Sproulee sauntered into the New Times office Friday afternoon, yet another vendor in town for the boat show.
The chipper, silver haired man produced three black milk-carton sized boxes containing the equivalent of 12 bottles of wine —the finest box wine, Sproulee conteded, in the country.
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Sproulee began his venture in 2003, selling high-end bulk wine in vacu-sealed bladders. The wine would stay fresh for up to four months after opening and, at $22 dollars a box, it worked out to roughly $5.50 a bottle. Today his product, "Black Box Wines, ranks number seventeen in wine sales nationwide.
The second largest market, outside of northern California, is South Florida. The reason? Mainly boaters. "They just love the stuff," Sproulee giggled, as he shot a foamy stream of decidedly drinkable Cabernet into a small glass. "It's just a major part of the culture... boating and drinking." The boxes, he says, are selling like hot cakes.
So the next time you're out on the water and some yacht comes careening towards you —keep a lookour for that little black box. It may not help much with the wreck, but it'll sure get you drunk while you wait for the Coast Guard. --Calvin Godfrey