In two short years, Tulsan Betsy Hendershot has taken Downward Dog Wine from sales in Oklahoma to Kansas, Missouri and Texas, and is currently working on distribution agreements in Arkansas and New Jersey.
“If I can start selling wine in one of those states by the end of September, I will reach my goal of five states in two years,” Hendershot says. “I’m pleased with that, and I’m very grateful for the independent liquor stores in Oklahoma that gave me my start.”
Downward Dog’s five top-selling wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blend, Chardonnay, Rosé and Merlot, will be joined by a new Pinot Grigio as Hendershot phases out Riesling and the white wine blend by this spring. “(The Pinot Grigio) will be the best of both worlds: light and fruity, but on the sweeter side, like my Riesling,” she says. She sources her wine from Washington’s Columbia Valley and all production takes place in Zillah, Washington.
The Missouri-raised and University of Tulsa alumna founded the business in 2018.
“I wanted my own company for many different reasons, but the most motivating reason was my daughter,” Hendershot says. “She was born with a medical issue called craniopharangioma, which causes reoccurring brain tumors found mostly in children. While she’s healthy today, I would like Downward Dog Wine to be a source of funding for charities that are searching for a cure for this rare disease, and ideally others, as well.”
Hendershot focused on a segment of the wine industry that had room for growth: boxed wine. “I continued to be intrigued by the environmental aspects of boxed wine first, but then by the convenience and economic benefits. I also noticed a lack of variety, quality and personality. I noticed a hole and decided to fill it.”