Banker says goodbye to Merrill, hello to merlot


A high-paying job on Wall Street just isn't enough for some people.

Sharon Sevrens worked as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and elsewhere, but that isn't what she really loved. What she loved, it so happened, was wine. So in 2004, when she got the opportunity to buy a liquor license and open her own shop specializing in artisanal wines, she jumped at the chance and left the financial world for good.

Sevrens tapped a growing trend. A 2012 report from NPR on the amount of money Americans spend on alcohol revealed that over the past three decades, in-store sales of wine have surpassed liquor. Wine now takes in about 40 percent of those sales, more than double its share in the 1980s. In addition, according to statistics portal Statista, in 2012, Americans spent nearly $13 billion on wine they drank at home in 2012—three times more than the amount they plunked down at restaurants.

Sevrens' career pivot didn't happen overnight. She spent years learning about wine and traveling to vineyards around the globe—not because she thought it would help her do her job, but just because she loved it. She then worked for months to strike a deal on a local liquor license—one of the stickiest parts of starting a wine shop. When that came through, she came up with a business plan.

A few months later, Sevrens opened the doors of Amanti Vino in Montclair, N.J., which carries more than 900 labels of wine and 200 different beers, as well as top-shelf liquors.

Learn more about how Sharon Sevrens created her dream job below, part of CNBC's series, "Escaping the Cube."