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Volume 21 No. 38
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Diane Karle, Wine By Design

Photo: Jon Van Gorder

In 2004, Diane Karle took note of what was happening in the wine space: The wine auction market was on fire, wine bars were popping up everywhere and large companies were using expensive wines as a form of entertainment for clients.

Diane Karle

Chief Executive Officer, Wine By Design
Born: Westchester, N.Y.
Education: B.S., marketing, Bloomsburg University

Three years later, Karle began thinking about the business side of the category. She targeted wine as a lifestyle vertical and recognized an unmet need that existed in the cross-sector of the sports fan and the wine drinker. 

“That was when I said ‘there’s no real agency that is … representing the category,’” she said. “It was an undervalued, kind of undermarketed category within all sports teams.”

So in 2008, Karle launched Wine by Design, an agency that sells licensed and team-branded wines, manages wine sponsorships and produces events.

Using the sports contacts that she built up over her career — including six years as a vice president at IMG and three years at Carat, where she launched the agency’s sports and entertainment business in 2002 — she landed her first client, the New York Jets.

Her company now services a client portfolio that includes an exclusive wine license for all 30 Major League Baseball teams and team-by-team deals in the NBA and the NFL, including the first commissioned commemorative Super Bowl wine.

“I saw an opportunity at a very relevant time to change the perception and what could be happening with wine,” Karle said. “That was an illustration of, you know, changing the game for that category.”

— Elly Cosgrove

Getting to know...

Attribute I look for when hiring: A fierce curiosity.
Misperception of working in sports: That you need to be a sports fanatic.
Proudest professional achievement: Opening up a previously undervalued category at the league and NFL team level and now expanding into new growth areas with MLB.
Woman in sports business I’d like to meet: Robin Roberts (again, now). She’s a powerful example of how to navigate the many challenges that face women with such integrity and grace.
I wish I’d known at my career’s start: The power of pausing before responding.
Role of sports in social issues: Sports instills a strong sense of community, teamwork and common purpose. These attributes can and should be used as a foundation to help address the many social issues facing us today.