Michael Machat is a Beverly Hills trademark lawyer who moonlights as an importer of "vampire wines" from Transylvania the real Transylvania, in Romania. In the past few years, his product line has expanded to include a soft drink, a vodka, a "supernatural" energy drink and a selection of vampire movie DVDs.


"In 1985, I was driving cross-county with a friend. It was pitch dark in the Nevada desert, and I had read Dracula for the first time in about six months beforehand. Vampires were in my subconscious. I had the idea of selling wine from Transylvania, and calling it Vampire.


"I had no experience in the wine business, and wine was more intimidating then than it is now. I thought, 'There's got to be a lot of people like me who like wine but just want to have fun and don't care for the snobbiness attached to it.'


"At that time, I didn't know they made wine in Transylvania, but it turned out that Romania was the 10th largest wine producing country in the world. I called the Romanian government and they didn't want to do business with me. It was the Communist system. They already had a wine exporter to the United States and didn't want any others.


"(Later) things loosened up. I started Transylvania Imports in 1995. The people in Transylvania weren't used to speaking to foreigners and said I was nuts for calling the wine Vampire. But they worked with me. I sold my first container of Transylvanian wine that year, about 1,500 cases.


"Now we're in about 40 states. We have five different types of wine, which retail for between $7 and $17. We also sell vodka, which we call Vampyre, and a red cola called Dracola which we're marketing to the "children of the night." In 2001, I acquired the rights to an energy drink and changed the name to Vamp. It's now being sold at 7-Eleven stores. In 2004, we did about $2 million in sales.


"I have eight people working for me in the beverage company and no one but a secretary helping me in the law practice. My legal career is taking off. I'm working 30 hours a week as a lawyer and the same amount for the Transylvania Imports.


"I'm going to continue with both jobs and hopefully someday take the beverage company public. Eventually, the public company might get purchased by a big bottler."

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