Boston – Wine Expo 2017 

Time to sell into USA! A goal for every wine producer is to try and tap into this market and with 52 states available to sell into, it certainly has a lot of opportunity available. 

Each state in the USA is pretty much its own individual country, they each have their own rules and laws and, in many ways is similar to Europe. The Challenge of selling into all states requires 3 things: a lot of work, a large investment and a lot of wine. At this stage I only have one of these things, the fact that I am happy to do a lot off work! 

I want to achieve selling my wine to 3 states in my first year of trying, Massachusetts, New York and California. So my first stop was the wine expo in Boston. This was a two-day event and I had a lot of fun meeting some great people, from both the trade side of things as well as the general public. 

During my time in Boston I also managed to have a look around Harvard University and enjoyed an hour-long lecture by the ex-president of Georgia. 

Here are some photos from Boston and the Boston Expo.

                                                                                               John Harvard  with some 2015 Res Fortes Red and 2015 Res Fortes White. 

                                                                                            John Harvard with some 2015 Res Fortes Red and 2015 Res Fortes White. 

                                              Show Time at the Boston Wine Expo

                                            Show Time at the Boston Wine Expo

Attempting the Chinese Market

Prowine, Shanghai

Tapping into the Chinese market is not going to be an easy task – with a three year time line to try and get a distributor. This three-day wine-selling event happened in Shanghai in late 2016 and was the first time I had attempted to enter into a new market.   After it became clear that I had absolutely no chance of selling any wine without one, I hired a Chinese translator with the English name of Wendy. This wine expo was a great way to meet some great people but it certainly was not an easy place to sell my product. One of the problems here is that French wine is so heavily taxed, whereas Australia, New Zealand and Chile all have trade agreements so they can escape the 40% duty on French wine. Breaking into this market is an ongoing challenge, but I’m not going to give up! Here are some pictures of my time in Shanghai and a Chinese dinner I had with friends. 

                                                                                                   WITH MY TRANSLATOR WENDY - ABSOLUTE LIFE SAVOUR. 

                                                                                                WITH MY TRANSLATOR WENDY - ABSOLUTE LIFE SAVOUR. 

                                                                                                                              DINNER WITH WINE FRIENDS. 

                                                                                                                             DINNER WITH WINE FRIENDS. 

                                                PORK BRAIN WITH TOFU 

                                               PORK BRAIN WITH TOFU 

                                                       COLD CHICKEN FEET 

                                                      COLD CHICKEN FEET 

My year with the Ritz, Green Park, London

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!

 Giovanni serving Moritz, Res Fortes 2015 white over an evening. 

          White wine at the Ritz's 110th Birthday. 

     Being served at the Ritz 110th Birthday.