Saturday, June 30, 2007

So, What Exactly Do I Do?

I get that question quite a lot. While the answer's quite simple, it's a bit more convoluted than one would think. It's also a lot more hard work. And it's certainly not as glamorous as one would think.

First, we have to parse the two parts as what I've created in Vinotas Selections is a hybrid, a nasty, smelly mutation with a thirsty palate seeking out the wine world's best wines at approachable prices.

The wine broker part travels the wine universe, swirling, sniffing, tasting, spitting, suffering through vast amount of plonk in the eternal search for a good producer. And trust me, there is a LOT of bad wine being made. Still. It could make your head spin (especially if you drink it). Once he chooses a winery, he markets the crap out of it to distributors and importers within the US and other countries, who pick it up at the cellar, charge up the wazoo for it, and sell it to stores, who then eventually sell it to you, the final consumer.

A wine importer does the same but adds an extra level of work, handling all the logistics and paperwork to get the pallets to the US in good shape and in time. The amount of bureaucracy involved is massive, as you can imagine, as we are dealing with a deadly, controlled substance, practically WMDs. Shockingly, no wine was found in Iraq.

A wine broker/importer does both at the same time, charging different margins for each, depending on the amount of work necessary to get the wine to the client (the distributor). Obviously, there's a lot less work in being a broker, but there's also less money. So I decided to be flexible and make Vinotas Selections a sort of hybrid monster.

Oh sure, we get to visit some of the most beautiful areas of the world, eat the greatest meals of our lives, and meet with people who are passionate about what they do. But it's still hard work. Yet somehow, waking up at 6am to drive three hours to visit a guy making a great wine doesn't bother me at all. Weird, eh?

So I write these words while in Beaune, the capital of Burgundy, where some of the greatest wines are made. I am visiting my producers as well as some potential new ones, so I'll be updating this as I go along.