Along the way of tasting and drinking a number of wines from the Old World and the New World, I came up with the question of how to
drink wines for free, and the next step was to build a website and start reviewing wines. And, while doing this as well as still
attending wine tastings on a weekly basis, I came to get to know people in the trade; importers, distributors, winemakers, label owners,
sales reps, bartenders, restaurateurs, etc. Of course, some of them brush you off at first, but when they start seeing you consistently
and other people say you're cool, it starts to open doors.
The next step was to put together some smaller tastings to expose some of the people I know/knew to different wines that were out there
and easily found but that they might walk by. I started by holding one at Manayunk Brewery with a bevy of great wines from Nationwide Wine
and Spirits. Following this, I did a couple over at Mantra, which was owned by buddy, Chef Al Paris. From this, I realized that a
television show would be a great vehicle featuring him with the food and me with the wine. This resulted in a couple of tapings at
Mission Grille in Philadelphia and a couple of dinners upstairs at the Manayunk Brewery; I literally have gotten a ton of phone calls over the years
where the caller thought my number was that of Mission Grille! In all of this, we got welcome assistance from
restaurant owners, managers, other chefs and waiters who all came in and helped us out. And the television show ideas are still there
and ready. (You can see pics by going here)
Between the first event at Mission Grille and also pouring for Quady Winery -- I literally emailed them on how much I liked some of their wines, to
which more communications happened and the owners were included on the emails, which then led to me getting an invitation to meet the Quadys at the New
York Chocolate Show; in offering me a chance to pour, he thought I would go for 15 minutes, to which I went easily for 45 and had a great happy crowd in
front of me -- up at several New York Chocolate Shows, it became obvious that wine was something that was natural to me. As a result of the first tasting
at the Mission Grille, another label owner approached me and wanted me to showcase his wines the way that I presented the first wines, which were from Vici Wine and Spirits
(much love and thanks to Mike Gonzalez). This company was the Friday Monkey Wine Group and they had some seven or so labels in their
portfolio, and my contact was Sid Patel. Sid and I became cool and I wound up putting him and Neri Wines together for a wine deal. That
was when the light bulb went off. Between what I learned from Sid and what I learned at that meeting, I realized what it would take for
me to start my own label.
Doing It: From Then to Now
So, around 2010 I started formulating a plan to jump into the industry; yes, exactly that long ago! Subsequent years involved trade shows in Italy, Portugal and Spain,
setting up the business, getting federally licensed and all the doldrums of trying to raise capital. I can tell you that the latter is the hardest -- and not for lack of trying -- and we're still in that position
for our first and second stages, but you know you have to poop or get off the pot, and so I was looking to find a small angel investor and bring these first wines out!
And as we present these first wines, we're hoping to get the momentum and raise the capital we want for the first phase, and then also bring you some wines which I am planning to
bestow you with which will expand your palate and make you happy to consume. Oh yes, and there will be spirits as well!