The End of a Wine School

Posted by Keith Wallace

How Reviews Killed a Chicago Wine School

How Krunch Went Yelp

A small wine school in Chicago gained significant attention in 2012, illustrating how social media can destroy a small business. The story centers on Krunch Kretschmar, a Master Sommelier who discovered the devastating power of social media.

Wine bottle and social media icons illustration.

Groupon at a Wine School

Krunch owns Bottled Grapes, a small wine school in Chicago. He decided to run a Groupon promotion, selling $35 tickets for $17.50 each. After Groupon’s cut, he earned $8.75 per ticket, resulting in a financial loss with over three thousand deals sold.

Yelpers at a Wine School

A Yelper named Cecelia Groark bought a Groupon and was dissatisfied with the customer support she received, leading her to leave a scathing Yelp review. This, combined with the Groupon financial strain, threatened Krunch’s business.

Social media impact on alcohol consumption and mental health.

It’s Always Customer Support

Krunch responded to the negative Yelp review by identifying Cecelia and creating a defamatory blog under her name. This resulted in a lawsuit against him, adding to his financial woes.

How Not to Deal With a Bad Yelp Review

Krunch’s retaliation included posting Cecelia’s personal information, leading to a lawsuit and further tarnishing his reputation. His actions showcased the dangers of responding negatively to online reviews.

And The End of a Wine School

Krunch’s actions led to a decline in his school’s reputation, ultimately closing in 2015. This story serves as a cautionary tale for small business owners on the power of social media and the importance of handling reviews professionally.

How Social Media Affects Small Businesses

That is a classic example of the power of social media in business these days. Social media websites, including both Yelp and Groupon, are two-edged swords. Such negative reviews and mismanaged promotions can blow up in one’s face, with a well-thought-out strategy being best before dealing with your customer.

Best Practices for Managing Online Reviews

This only raises the concern for small business owners to manage online reviews. Responding to negative feedback and trying to settle matters can help mitigate the damage. Trust is built and a business’s reputation is protected through transparency and accountability, not retaliation.

The Rise of a New Chicago Wine School

The closing of Bottled Grapes left a gap in the wine education of Chicago, but this was an opportunity soon to be filled with the onset of the Chicago Wine & Sommelier School. Built in 2020 by two former technology executives-turned-sommeliers, this very authentic school has quickly become the place to earn your NWS-accredited sommelier certification. Programs run from Level One to our Level Three Certification, with online and in-person to ensure robust wine education for professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Chicago Wine & Sommelier School follows this great tradition by offering wine tastings, corporate training, and advanced certification programs. We look to bring the same caliber of fine wine education that the city of Chicago is already so famous for through culinary and wine excellence into this new institution.

Embracing Modern Wine Studies

The Chicago Wine & Sommelier School provides not only classical wine education but also modern approaches to learning. Online solid presence enables students to access courses and material from anywhere, quickly making wine education much more accessible. Indeed, flexibility is factored into this, thereby ensuring that budding sommeliers and wine enthusiasts alike can further their education without any limitations in place. Community Involvement and Events Besides the educational purpose, different events and tastings are organized in which the Chicago Wine & Sommelier School participates. This facility caters to its occupants and visitors so they can learn, discover wines from diverse sources, feel the real thing from an original expert, and connect with fellow wine lovers. The vibrant wine culture that the school builds gives Chicago a distinct image and also contributes to the city’s overall reputation as a place for culinary and wine excellence.


8 thoughts on “The End of a Wine School”

  1. He’s a total con. He used to go by Dr. Jeffrey Kretschmar. I’m not really sure of his REAL name, as he’s changed it several times. He has/had TWO different Social Security Numbers. His background … that he came from Europe is untrue. He is from Michigan. He claimed that his father was some kind of diplomat. Once again, untrue. Had an investigator run a background check on him … I ended up with a book. Arrested and jailed several times; bouncing checks, and at least once arrest for lewd and lascivious behavior. He lived in Tampa and had several “companies” … one of them was KMA USA (he described it as a non-profit company). He lived in a small apartment that he eventually was evicted from. When I knew him, he was on food stamps. He now claims to be an internationally known sommelier. Fat chance. I know that he had some kind of computer store – KMA Supply Corp. – in Urbana, Illinois. Now what would a sommelier be doing working on a computer supply store? Don’t trust this guy. Don’t give him money. He’s a total con artist.

    Reply
  2. This is the first article I’ve read on this web site, but I just gotta say, this site is in serious need of a copy editor. For a web site to be taken seriously, it can’t be loaded with typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors.

    Reply
    • Agreed! It’s the problem of having a group of talented writers who are used to having the editorial staff of a newspaper or magazine. An online magazine is new for all of us, so there are going to be growing pains. We really aren’t that worried about not being taken seriously, as we have some serious firepower on our bench. Just no-one who can spell for #@*$&$.

      Reply
  3. The deal with the Groupon sale was for $35 you could come to one of his tastings. He, in his own words on a video on his website Bottled Grapes, states that he sold 4000 tickets between Groupon and Living Social. $35 times 4000 = $140,000
    Krunch received immediately from Groupon (presumably) $70,000

    From Krunche’s own lips…….
    LINK: http://web.archive.org/web/20110908132737/http://bottledgrapesonline.com:80/index.php?vid=11

    This guy is a con man. All of his credentials are fake. We checked them all out. Now as a result of this implosion
    others are checking him out.

    He tried to con us out of wine. We lost a few thousand but we were never taken in. Speaking to Costco, they fired him; the Store chain Potash fired him. He was a clerk. Not a Sommelier. No Harvard Grad. No Rothschild connection. They do not even give out titles.
    Richard Wallace

    Reply
    • That is the other side of the coin. Our topic was the Groupon/Yelp dynamic, and really didn’t touch on the possibility of KK being a con artist.

      On another note, what’s up with Wallace’s being in the wine trade? I know a dozen or so. Is it a Scottish thing?

      Reply

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