Platform Coworking member Andrea Corral a.k.a. the CitiMaven splits her time between Chicago and Spain, and also between IT work and the wine business. A micro importer of Spanish wines, she keeps two laptops busy: one for her IT work, the other for her wine business. It’s fair to say she’s the Platform member you’re most likely to see opening a bottle of wine for tasting at most any time of day. The best part: she shares. Here’s more about the woman and her work.
Tell us about your business.
“I have a dualistic life. By trade I’m an IT consultant. However, I inherited some grape fields in Spain and I had to either pursue that, or let it go, and I love wine too much to do that. At first I was bringing the wine to this country to see if it would work, and sure enough, people wanted to buy it. It was a very organic process and now I import wines and distribute them. I am officially the smallest wine importer in Chicago,” says Corral, who notes that she likes plain talk when it comes to wine. She also enjoys the physical labor that comes with the job. “I spend the fall in the grape fields. I spend a lot of time picking grapes. Picking grapes is not sexy. It’s backbreaking.”
How much do you travel for business? Does that play into utilizing a coworking space?
“Spain is home base for me. I come back to Chicago to nurse my customers and projects. I’ve been in Spain for the past eight years or so, but I’m in the process of moving back to Chicago full-time. I’m originally from Spain. My parents immigrated and English is my second language. My accent comes out regularly,” says Corral. “I needed a space that’s accessible 24 hours a day. Access is critical because I’m at the office at 4 a.m., midday in Spain. I love the fact that Platform has a kitchen, and I can store my wine there. I’m that girl that loves to drink midday at lunch…and nobody judges me. I tried another spot downtown and it was like 10 a.m. and I would open a bottle and people are looking at me like, ‘This woman has an issue.’ I don’t get that at Platform. I feel like everyone there is busy with their own work, I don’t feel like anyone judges me.”
What do you do when not working?
“I’m a big wine drinker, so I do a lot of running. It keeps things balanced. I’ve completed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon,” says Corral. “I’m also a big foodie. I especially love BYO restaurants. I also like to take wine to non-BYO restaurants. If you call ahead and talk to the owners, they’ll more than likely let you bring your own wine and maybe charge you a small corkage fee.” In terms of pairing food with wine, Corral is casual: “There’s no right or wrong when it comes to pairing wine with food, just drink and eat what you enjoy.”