Res Fortes 2015 White and 2014 Red available at the Ritz.
I guess it’s a life long dream for most wine producers to be able to say that their wine is available at the Ritz – but for me this dream became reality in May 2016. It all started after a catch up with an old school friend, who happened to be a sommelier. The place for this meeting was at the world famous Ritz hotel in St James’, London. Arriving at 12’oclock, Charlie and I caught up over a six hour lunch, over which we talked, drank and ate a delicious 8 course meal. Towards the end of lunch I asked Charlie why he chose the Ritz for our catch up – and was met with the answer that he worked there for four years and one year as an assistant sommelier.
At the end of Lunch (6pm!), the staff at the Ritz and some of Charlie’s old colleagues very kindly showed us the kitchens of the hotel as well introducing us to the Head Sommelier – what a privilege! After a great lunch at the Ritz I felt as if I was walking on air (if slightly worse for ware) but it was time to head our own ways.
A couple days later, I sent an email to the Head Sommelier, Giovanni, thanking him for lunch and the wonderful opportunity of meeting him and seeing behind the scenes at The Ritz. As a young business owner, I can’t underestimate the power of networking enough, so asked in the same email if there would be any possibility to meet up with him for a tasting of my wines to see what he thought, and eventually, through various emails, a date was set.
After a good chat and tasting the Res Fortes 2015 White and 2014 Red were approved. Giovanni asked me who my Distributor was in the UK, and when I replied that unfortunately I didn’t have anyone at the moment, and that I was trying to sell direct, he hit me with the devastating blow that they only work with distributors as small orders cost too much in admin. They needed to buy 10 different types of wine, with a minimum order of £1000 worth of wine, they would need to buy a lot of my red and white wines to set up a new account. Unfortunately it wasn’t going to work. We left on the note that once I found a distributor, I should try again.
This lead to a bit of research- I found out which distributors the Ritz works with and called a few friends to ask if they might be able to sell but to no avail – a year later it still wasn’t looking hopeful.
Six months later, I was at my local wine shop, The Wine Tasting Shop, in Balham. I have been going here since it first opened and talking to the owners Emmanuel and Julia I told them about my situation and the Ritz. They advised me to talk to one of their suppliers– a gentleman called Francis at OW Loeb. They told me that they must be selling to the Ritz. I was slightly suspicious when, a couple days later, I was back in wine shop and who else should be there but Francis from OW Loeb. Doing my usual chat, and after a few meetings I got myself a distribution channel with OW Loeb. Six months later, with some aggravation, I finally got another meeting at the Ritz, the deal was done.
To top it all off, the Res Fortes 2015 white wine was served at the Ritz 110th Birthday. This really shows that hard work pays off and my year and half of pain had eventually paid off!