Mary Bartlett from Future Gin

Start Transcript (computer generated)
//////////////////////////////

Jerad

All right. So welcome to the second episode of TBD: To Be Determined. That's probably the name that's going to stick. We are a  low intervention wine and craft spirits Podcast. This is episode number two with Alvaro. Alvaro? Right. Al-VAR-o?

Alvaro de la Viña

Alvaro. The accent is on that first A. So, in Spanish AL-varo…. I'm not really expecting everyone to have the pronunciation. So ALvaro just seems to be quite easy to pronounce.

Jerad

Alvaro from Selections De la Viña

Alvaro de la Viña

Which is, surprisingly, my last name, actually not surprising for me, but it may be surprising for some other people.

Jerad

Well, that's cool. You're made for this. 

Alvaro de la Viña

Exactly. Exactly. You know, I could say at some point I'm sure someone in my family has been dedicated to wine before me and I mean has grown wine or made wine or whatever with a name like that,  Right? But as far as we know, I'm the 1st one, man. So…

Jerad

Nice. So for every one that doesn't know, Alvaro is an importer of a lot of really beautiful Spanish and some Portuguese wines. Cool. So yeah, I guess. Let's get started, Selections de la Viña, give us like day one.

Alvaro de la Viña

Like I said, my last name is de la Viña. As far as I know, the 1st one in my family to ever work in wine. So I guess we're like, fulfilling the family destiny. But I actually came to wine via the produce industry. So before starting to import wine, I took over my father's company in 2009 importing Citrus fruit from Spain. So, I've kind of grown up between the U. S and Spain my whole life. You know, I came over a very young age and we came over for that reason because my father had started a business importing Citrus fruit from Spain. He started started his own company in the year 2000. We came in 1990. So I took over his company in 2009. Our main product was Clementines. When he first started, the company it was a longer season because there wasn't much domestic production. But over the years, California started producing more and more and kind of made it harder for us to compete, you know, as an import product, both on pricing and also being a perishable. The the time of transit. Our fruit just didn’t have the same shelf life that a lot of the domestic fruit had, so it just became very hard to compete. My father passed away in 2009. I had just finished college that year. So I was kind of thrown into the family business, kind of an attempt to save it. He tried to steer me away from it because he didn't see much of a future in it already. But I was very hard headed and obviously this was the company that was giving us everything so far. I wanted to continue his legacy, and from 2009 to 2012, against all odds, just really tried to continue with the citrus fruit business, and it just didn't work out. But I feel like we gained enough experience. Logistical experience and also sales and, on the import inside as well. So I wanted to continue importing “something” from Spain. I felt like I had an edge, right. I grew up between Spain and the US my whole life, you know, fluent in Spanish and English. Grew up here in the States, but heritage was in Spain. So I kind of wanted to do something that connected both cultures. And obviously there's so much history behind wine. There's people behind wine. We always talk about wine and people, right? It's a very important part of how we make our selections. You know, the wine is obviously a very important part of the selections we make, but it's also the people behind it. You know, if we believe in those people, chances are we believe in those wines. If they're honest people, chances are those winds are honest and it's

Jerad

Cool. It's kind of like you're buying their lifestyle, almost, in a weird way, you know, or like what we can identify with, You know

Alvaro de la Viña

for sure for sure, I think, especially when you work with producers like ours, I totally say you're buying into their lifestyle because wine is their life. You know, these guys are small producers that are literally doing everything from top to bottom. You know, from the viticulture the wine making to the bottling, literally everything. So, yeah, it is a lifestyle. And obviously, you know, some people that are trying to farm organically or bio dynamically. You know, this isn't just the viticulture or the wine that their practicing. This is their lifestyle.

Jerad

Yes, I think a lot of it has to do with everyone's outlook on what's the right thing to do? What's the right thing to do with the land? What's the right thing to do with everything? So it kind of plays into that.

Alvaro de la Viña

For sure, for sure, you know, I'd say it's it's their belief across the board, not just with wine, but with the way they live their life with everything that they put in their body, the way they treat their body, the way they treat, you know, the planet. So it's totally a lifestyle. 

Jerad

What year was your first container?

Alvaro de la Viña

Yes. So the first container. We founded our company in June of 2013. We finally decided that we were gonna just turn the page and leave produce, leave Citrus fruit, Leave Clementine's. We wanted to do wine. In June of 2013 we started our company and in September of 2013 we landed our first container. With five producers, I think it was maybe a total of 15 wines, but it was all producers from southern Spain, which is where Anna, my wife and I,  are from. We are from Seville. We thought there was so much good natural wine being made in southern Spain and you know, it just was totally just misrepresented here in the market. So we really saw an opportunity to do it ourselves. And I think it was really important because it opened up doors for us. I think if we had started with Rioja, or we had started with some of these, you know, Cava or bigger, people would have been like we don't need another Cava, we don’t need another Rioja

Jerad

There is a lot of competition

Alvaro de la Viña

Exactly. When we pitched them a monastrell from Montia…

Jerad

They were like, I don't have one.

Alvaro de la Viña

Yeah, it was like, “I didn’t even know they made dry red wine in Montia”, which we thought was a sherry region. But, you know, we sort of broke people's schemes of what they thought a region should be making, you know, And I think to this day we're still doing that. And a lot of people know us for that. It's sort of, you know, it's just groundbreaking. You know, I don't want to say groundbreaking because in most cases it's returning the old traditions back to the basics. No one's doing anything new, You know, in Montia there used to be red grapes planted all over the all over the region. Then when the big sherry boom came, everyone ripped up the red Viñas, planted pedro ximenez and that was it. But, you know, historically, there was a bunch of red Viñas planted in the region. So Jose Miguel Martez of Marenas decided to plant some red grapes in the region. And I think he's started a little bit of movement there towards getting back to something that's been done there for for a long time, you know?

Jerad

Have you always been into wine? I know. Probably growing up in Spain a lot of your life. I'm sure it's part of your culture, right?

Alvaro de la Viña

Yeah. So it's not like I was a wine connoisseur. I drank wine. I liked wine. In my family, there's always been wine at the table, but I never really, you know, took a professional approach to it, you know, never really, got too deep into it until it became a professional opportunity for us. And we started obviously tasting around, talking, reading, researching, and was it was when we started the business that we really started to learn about wine. Out of Necessity, you know.

Jerad

Yeah, it's crazy. It's the same for me. I always kind of liked wine. But I never really knew that there was anything else. I thought it was just there are reds and there's whites. And, you know, sometimes you get a good bottle, but usually you pick a really bad one. You're just like, I guess this is what we get tonight. But once somebody shares something with you and you're like, What is that? Yes, this is not like everything else. And that was my a ha moment.

Alvaro de la Viña

I feel like that can only happen with natural wines. You know, it’s either a really old conventional wine. That's like blowing your mind just by how alive it is after being so old. Or it's a natural wine that is just packed full of energy, you know?

Jerad

Yeah, because conventional wines don't have that that electricity, that excitement that sparks, just like, yeah, this is good,

Alvaro de la Viña

Honestly, like growing up. Like I said, there was always wine at the table, and, you know, for the most part, it was classic wine, you know, classic estates. I'm sure it was great, but it never moved me. Like the  first natural wines I started tasting moved me, you know, it’s like you’ve been bit by something like you're completely absorbed by it. It’s been a wild ride, man. It's been crazy. Going on seven years now. So June will be seven years since we founded the company. It seems like it's a flash, but it’s been packed full of intensity and lots of work. Obviously, we've learned so much, and met so many people.. It's been a beautiful, wild ride.

Jerad

Was it like gangbusters as soon as he started?

Alvaro de la Viña

Oh, dude, no, It was a hustle. It was a hustle for sure, man. Like, you know, I started on my bike. I started...

Jerad

So you started just in the New York area?

Alvaro de la Viña

Just New York, just knocking on doors. You know, a lot of people that have started import companies, you know, come from restaurants or come from another company. So they know how the business works. They have contacts. We had zero, like nothing. So, yeah, so I was literally knocking on doors. 

Jerad

So there was no grocery leverage from from the from the citrus business?

Alvaro de la Viña

That was the plan. But then we realized that they were two completely different industries.

Jerad

They’re like, you know, you know, we don't even buy the wine.

Alvaro de la Viña

There was no overlap whatsoever. So it's like it was like starting from zero. We did have logistical experience. And, you know, we understood how the ocean transit worked, and customs brokers. We had those types of contacts, but nothing on the sales side. So, literally starting from scratch, I would literally bike around with 12 bottles on my bike’s side, and I would taste around with people. I would bombard with emails, calls, you know, just cold calls, just always have wine with me and tasting and trying to go to as many tastings as possible. I was literally out every single night, man. I would literally have a drink at one spot. Then go have a drink in another spot. Then go have a drink at another spot, You know, just trying to build the portfolio of contacts and customers and friends. You know, I think a lot of the customers that we've been working with over the years now are now friends. That’s something that’s really cool about this industry, and I can't say the same from the other industry I was in.

Jerad

That’s the cool thing about New York as an importer. It's like you get to see, from start to finish. You don't see that for all the states. So you know you're getting feedback. So you can import something and the next day, have that feedback immediately. So you’re going to get better iterative feedback on the decisions you’re making.

Alvaro de la Viña

I also think it's probably like this in a lot of things, but, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere like the song says right. If the wine is selling in New York, there's a good probability it's gonna sell in the rest of the country, you know? So it’s a good filter and it probably represents about half of our sales because our home market is where we are, where we were born, it's where we've grown up and I mean professionally as both me & my wife were born in Spain, but, you know, it's where the company was founded. It's where we've sort of run the ranks and have established ourselves. So yeah, man, New York is a super important market for us, obviously. We don't see the same type of feedback out of state, but the feedback we get is from you guys from our distributors. You know, we don't have that direct sort of relationship with, you know, the retailers, or the restaurants or even the end consumers, for that matter. I mean, in some states we do. We’ve only recently started working together, so I've never been out there as we’ve been to visit you yet, but there's a bunch of markets where we visited a bunch of times and that we definitely sort of pounded hard and spent a lot of time there. So we do sort of have more direct feedback and sort of customer relations relations there. 

Jerad

So, besides New York, what are some surprising markets for you... that are doing well?

Alvaro de la Viña

California's our second biggest market after New York. I wouldn't really say that’s surprising given the size, but we do have just a monster of a distributor there in Erin Sylvester and Zev. Sylvester Rovine Selections. Other other big markets for us that you may consider surprising would be like Massachusetts for the Boston area, Maine for the Portland area. Yeah, Virginia, Richmond, and D.C., that area.Then Chicago is a great market for us. Then there's up and coming markets that I'd say you would think are there, but not quite yet. But they're growing like Florida. Like Texas. Yeah. You know, I think there's lots of exciting things happening in those states. In the South,  in general, for instance Louisiana, I feel there's a lot of potential as well. And you know, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina. All these areas, I think, have great potential.

Jerad

It seems like the metro areas are the easy wins, but the smaller ones, it's always food centric. It seems like. Anywhere there is a really good quality food scene. I don't mean just high end food.

Alvaro de la Viña

Yeah, you know that anywhere where there is a progressive food scene is most likely a good market for us. Because in the end, that's what we're doing in wine. We have a progressive portfolio and, you know,  it's only normal that it goes hand in hand with progressive cuisine.

Jerad

In general, honestly, for me, and I admit this all the time, and hopefully I can just continue to learn more about Spanish wines...Spanish pronunciations for me are the hardest thing. I’m working every day on it.

Alvaro de la Viña

And you're in Nevada. Is there not a lot of South American’s?

Jerad

So most of our immigrants, or the spanish that’s spoken, in Nevada is from Mexico. Yes, so it's gonna be their, I guess, their style, or dialect...

Alvaro de la Viña

Accent! It's the same exact language, just a different accent. But we understand each other very well. The pronunciation is more or less the same. You know, I'd say the biggest differences that lisp, the spanish lisp.

Jerad

What's the main characteristics that separate a lot of the Spanish wines besides being low intervention, besides being natural, what are those characteristics that you fell in love with for Spanish wines.

Alvaro de la Viña

So obviously, you know, my heritage has a lot to do with, you know, working with Spanish wine. I'd say Spain has diversity. You've got such a diverse terrain able to, such different terroir, so you have such a large range of styles of wine that can be made, from sparkling too big red's you know, in a relatively small country. I think Spain is more or less the size of Texas, and we've got mountains, got ocean, we've got inland, and all of these different types of terrain and landscapes give you different wines. I think that's one of the really cool sort of unique aspects of a Spanish wine, the range and the styles that they make. Andalso, you know, value. Lots of the producers that we work with. You know, these Viñas have been in their families for a long, long time. And, you know, land has been paid for. Land generally is not as expensive as it is here, for example, or in France. I mean, there's very expensive regions in Spain, especially when you're competing with tourism. But for the most part, you know, land is relatively cheap, and that translates to the price of the wine. So you have wines that I think are just as good as wines being made in France that are literally made the same way with the same sort of vigneronne wine grower concept that are just cheaper, you know, in Spain, because production costs are less.

Jerad

Yeah, and that's I think a big thing for us is access.There's always going to be really nice high end wine that's super expensive...

Alvaro de la Viña

People need to know that there's great value in Spain, but when a wine is expensive, it's probably for a reason, you know.

Jerad

That's, I think, a great thing that I love about Spain and some French wines as well, is having access to these wines, and I think that's more important now in the climate that we're in today, probably more than than ever, because it's like, you never want to be elitist on something that you think is the right thing to do for the world, right? So I think the more access that we can get to these quality craft products, the better it's gonna be for everybody.

 

Alvaro de la Viña

Most of these producers, wine makers, vigneronnes that we work with, they're very humble people. They are living, you know, very humbly. You know, why should what they do be only accessible to the elite? You know? Wine has always historically been a peasant's drink. So we need to keep, you know, for me, natural wine should be accessible. You know, this is what producers would want, in most cases.

Jerad

And there's some producers that will put limits. I'm not sure if your producers do, but I know there's other producers that we work with that are like, no, this is it.  This is allocated and this is the price. And if you gouging, we're gonna pull it all out.

Alvaro de la Viña

Exactly. Yeah, they want to see their wines on the shelf at certain price points. And, you know, I think it should be transparent. From the beginning of the supply chain to the end, I think it should be super transparent. And, you know, in the end, it's not us as distributors or as importers who decide the price. It's the producers, without a doubt. And yeah, regardless of how much demand there is for a wine and how little there is, there should not be price gouging. I am 100% against that.

Jerad

...and that's the cool thing. I work in coffee. I work in a couple different sectors. But that's the thing that I love about wine, is the allocation system. Even though it's different everywhere, it seems like there's a common understanding between everyone, like trying to be as fair as possible about access, without price gouging. And that doesn't happen in every market. I’m proud to say that, in most cases,  it works out pretty well. It doesn't mean that everyone's gonna be able to have the wine, but we're trying.

Alvaro de la Viña

When we speak about a natural wine community, it's for the good and the bad, you know. So when we're a community, we gotta figure out how to, you know, if there's only so much wine, we gotta figure out how as many people as possible can get to try some. You know, that's part of our job. It can't just be all going to the same order, you know? 

Jerad

No, that doesn't help anybody. 

Alvaro de la Viña

You know, it's about spreading the love. And in the end, I think we're competing against bigger brands and stuff. So the more we can get the wine out, the more we can get the little wine that these guys are making, you know, spreading as far as possible. The more damage we do against these bigger guys.

Jerad

You just did a few containers from Chile, Right? Is that your first foray into Chile?

Alvaro de la Viña

That is, yeah man. So, as you mentioned, we are mostly Spain. We currently only work with one Portuguese producer, which is Antonio Medina, and recently we just started with Chile. So I think I was in Chile, December of last year, so not that long ago before all this craziness happened and coincidentally right when the whole tariff scare started, the 100% tariff threat. So it was great timing.

Jerad

Isn't it crazy? To think, we were so worried about tariffs.

Alvaro de la Viña

Right? First it was tariffs, now Corona virus! That’s a hell of a couple month’s man. It makes it very hard to plan accordingly, right? Especially when you're working with, you know, a foreign country where transit takes two months and you need to plan ahead of time. And there's so much uncertainty, right? 

Jerad

When they talk about trade of uncertainty, like it's a real thing, these are real things that we have to think about all the time.

Alvaro de la Viña

Oh for for sure. We always got to think ahead of time. I think that's one of the hardest things about this about this gig, you know? So yeah, man, before we started with Chile there as the tariff scare. So it was actually great timing because Chile’s not affected or wasn't affected by these tariffs. So, yeah, I think we would have four or five producers [lists producers], and that's it. We have 4 Chilean producers that we picked up that we're super excited about, actually just had all of them recently land. So we'll be doing a couple of live tastings on Instagram with those producers. They actually just finished the harvest. So yeah, I'm super excited to taste. The wines landed, we have obviously tasted them all in Chile, but it will be will be exciting to taste them here.

Jerad

For those instagram live streams. How can everybody reach you? To find out about these events?

Alvaro de la Viña

Just connecting to my (IG) story. So it's just...SelectionsDeLaVina is my handle all together and just go to my profile and tune into my story. I'm doing them every Tuesday and Friday at 1:00 PM, at least for the remainder of this month. We'll see what happens. You know, if the company's opened back up and we can get back to normalcy or, you know, maybe we'll continue doing them anyway. I don't know. We'll see how to goes. But every Tuesday and Friday at 1:00 PM I'm getting a different producer online, and we're tasting through their wines, you know, focusing on recently landed wines. You know, now that we can’t go out and visit customers and taste wine with them we had to figure out ways, to, you know, to do our job virtually under different circumstances?

Jerad

Yeah, that's kind of how this whole podcast got started was the exact same reason. How can we possibly influence and help educate our, you know, not just our market, but the community in mass without just kind of sitting around not doing anything. How can we add value for everyone and continue to do this thing that we love.

Alvaro de la Viña

I feel like I'm creating more content now than ever, because we have a little bit more time and obviously, you know, the fact that you can't get out there and visit customers and all that. You have more time to sit at your computer and be a little more creative, you know? And we're working on our website. We're doing these IG lives. 

Jerad

And the IG Lives are great. I did the Alejandro Muchada. With Leclapart which, those wines are goosebumps wines for me, all three of them. I hadn't had the Elixir and the the other one, Lumiere.

Jerad

I hadn't had those yet, and oh man, they are killer.

Alvaro de la Viña

Lumiere, so that was Tuesday. It's now Thursday. I had a glass of Lumiere from Tuesday. It is just on the up. It's still on point, and I'd say even better that it’s opened up. You know, I think the oak has maybe taken more of a backstage because I think it's pretty prevalent there when you first opened the bottle

Jerad

Yes, but I think it's in a good way you know,

Alvaro de la Viña

Yes, very elegant

Jerad

[laughs] When we talk about oak, it’s different from California oak!

Alvaro de la Viña

Yes, yes. Yeah, we're talking four year old barrels. You know, there's not much new oak in our portfolio.

Jerad

What other future projects are there that you want to talk about? What's your outlook? You know, like, what are you planning for? I know it's kind of a weird time right now,

Alvaro de la Viña

It’s so hard right now to really know because when the country sort of opens back up will restaurants be the same? What will business be like? What will volumes be like?

Jerad

We’'re are all in this weird limbo...

Alvaro de la Viña

Are people going to be scared to go out? WIll there still be social distancing, sort of implemented where restaurants can only, you know, maybe pack 50% of capacity. Are people gonna be confident enough to order out? To go out and meet? So it's very hard to plan anything right now, but before any of this started, we’re always thinking about stuff to do. And, you know, there's always new producers in the pipeline. I definitely want to continue exploring South America. We've only started with Chile and actually, we're supposed to have our first Peruvian producer land this week. He is using the Quebranta grape and he's in the desert by the coast off from Lima…

Jerad

Wow, that sounds cool. I import a lot of peruvian coffee, cool stuff….

Alvaro de la Viña

Oh, cool, yeah, these are actually Pisco grapes. So it's a Pisco producer who makes a world famous Pisco, and he only just recently started making wine from these Pisco grapes, the Quebranta grape variety. And he's doing orange wine. They're very peculiar, but very intriguing. and compelling. And I think they're really cool. So yeah, I definitely want to explore South America. You know, I think there's great wine being made in Argentina, you know, cheap...more  stuff in Chile and so on. We also always have new projects and producers. There in Spain, You know, I got a couple of leads in Portugal, so, you know, we're always looking to add producers, and different pack sizes, formats, kegs, cans, you know, we are about it all. You know, in the end, we're just trying to stay busy and keep people from being thirsty.

Jerad

Yeah, right, just keep one foot in front of the other. That's what a lot of people are doing right now..

Alvaro de la Viña

You know for sure. I mean, so you are a coffee guy, right? And you're still in the coffee business, right?

Jerad

Yes. So, we have a coffee roastery. So, luckily, what's kind of saved us with the coffee is, we do a lot of retail. So it’s what we call “off premise”, right? So we have a lot of groceries. So we do Whole Foods and Sprouts, and luckily, we really nurtured over the last couple of years our Web presence for online orders. Um, because, really, all of our host...

Alvaro de la Viña

What is the Web so I can check it out?

Jerad

It's just vestacoffee.com (http://www.vestacoffee.com). We're a specialty coffee roastery, you know? So it's kind of like the natural wine of coffee.  There's a lot of comparisons, I think the Venn diagram...

Alvaro de la Viña

You don’t do your own import do you?

Jerad

Some.

Alvaro de la Viña

Okay, so you work with them importing and you do a lot of buying bulk and then roasting their coffee, correct?

Jerad

Yes. So we work with some farmers directly. We work with exporters at origin, and then with some trusted importers based here in the States as well. But all of our coffees were bought forward. It helps us project costs. And it also helps, I think, with the producers, because a lot of coffee producing countries, they don't make a lot of money on the coffees. And at least gives them a livable wage is like number one for us. So fair trade [prices] are way too low, all right, even the cheapest coffee we buy is, I think, double what fair trade minimum is. For us it’s  important because..

Alvaro de la Viña

So it’s like organic certifications and wine.

Jerad

Organic certifications in anything...you know how it is! Just because it's a certified organic doesn't mean it's better, andit doesn't mean yeah,...

Alvaro de la Viña

The organic standards allow the use of all sorts of chemical products. It's crazy.

Jerad

A little side story. My girlfriend & I, we have a bunch of weeds in the front of our house, right? And my girl goes, “Can you go get some weed killer and spray the weeds and I'll take care of it?” And I was like, How about we go pick the weeds? And I was like, I don't know, that's kind of weird. I have a specialty coffee roastery, and I distribute natural wine and I go out in my front yard and go straight Round-Up and I was like uh, let me go to the store and see what they have. So I found this one product, and it's organic, fully organic approved, you know?. And I was like, and I'm not a scientist, I’m no biochem major. I don't know what I don't know. But, yeah, I get it anyways. And I tested out on a few weeds. I sprayed it, and I don't know if it's gonna work, you know. It's like me Neem oil or something like this... A couple days later, I walked by that area, and there is like, this white film, and the weed is dead. And I'm just like, Holy shit, What was that? I was like, We're not using it. I don't know what it is! But yeah, that's the same with organic certification. You know, it's like getting an organic certification, like I think they can still have systemic stuff in there.

Alvaro de la Viña

Yeah. In the end, it's all about the residual that's on the grapes. They can use systemic. They can add all sorts of shit. You know, they could use wood chips. They can do, you know, coloring, the mega purple. They used enzymes for fermentation. They can, you know, acidify, de-acidify, there's all sorts of tricks that organic certifications still allow, you know. 

Jerad

It's kind of sad that sometimes when I look and I see a wine on the shelf and it has a huge organic call out on it, I want to step away from it because why are they pushing that so hard?

Alvaro de la Viña

It's too gimmicky. You know, I'm definitely pro-organic certification. I'm not a hater, you know. I think if you farm organically and you want to get the certification, great! So a lot more behind organic and really knowing the producer and seeing how organic they really are. certification is great, but you need to know the producer and hopefully have been to the place and see how they work and see for yourself. And then you can believe organic certification.

Jerad

There's a lot of correlations with coffee as well. It's almost identical. It's more about just being honest in having intention and saying, Hey, this is what we did, this is how we grow. This is our outlook and let everyone make their own decisions. We only buy hand picked coffee. You know, we only buy a certain amount, we make sure the farmers get paid.

Alvaro de la Viña

Hey, can you sell wine at Vesta?

Jerad

No. So the way the State of Nevada works is, it's a three tier state. So since I'm a distributor, I can't legally sell any retail. Which kind of sucks. I get asked every single day, but I can't do it. That was a decision that I knew I was going to have to kinda live with once I became a distributor. But for me, it goes back to access. My ultimate goal is to get glasses in people's hands, right? To get bottles in people’s fridges, but I can't do that if there's no access. So I was like, I can't open a wine bar. I could, but I’d be limited to what the state of Nevada had. So my chance was like, hey, I know logistics. I do wholesale coffee. I work with a lot of food and beverage already. Let's you know, let's take a crack at it. Let's see what we can do to help gain access for Nevada.

Alvaro de la Viña

You took one for the team. It seems, you know, because you wanted to get your hands on natural wine and it just wasn't around much. So it's like someone's got to step up to the plate here, right?

Jerad

Someone, Yeah. And, you know, the cool thing is, I was up for it, and I'm excited about it. I'm still excited about it after getting up and down,  and going through licensing for years and getting slapped by possible tariffs and and then now this, you know?

Alvaro de la Viña

interesting time to start, Jerad. You seem to be doing great, so congratulations!

Jerad

Yeah, thanks. We're nowhere near where we know we can be. As a market, and as a distributor. But we will get there soon, so, I’m excited.

Alvaro de la Viña

Slowly but surely, man. As long as people dig what you do and the market, sort of, grows around you, you’ll be just fine.

Jerad

Cool. Do you have anything that you want to add? Like we went a little over time. But you know what? Do you wanna keep rolling?

Alvaro de la Viña

We were supposed to keep it under, like, half an hour or something?

Jerad

NO, it’s loose, you know?...

Alvaro de la Viña

I just want to say, like, you know, most of our portfolio is focused on Spain, and I think you asked me before about what made Spain unique, or why I love Spanish wine so much. And I almost like changing people's perception of Spanish wine is, even more than the wine itself. Because I feel like over the last couple of decades, the Spanish wine world or industry, has lost its identity. You know, I feel like they were chasing the Parker points, of like full body reds that were over ripe, and over oaked and, you know, over extracted and just very difficult to drink. You know, I like a lot of people sort of steered away from what their ancestors did to chase these points and make their wives more marketable. And we sort of started with Spanish wine at a time when there was a movement back towards terroir driven wines with a sense of place, wines that, ultimately are just more fun to drink, have had more drinkability, you know, don't have as much alcohol a little bit more acidity, a little bit more freshness. I think this is what our portfolio represents. We're trying to capture that movement back towards the old way of making elegant, drinkable wines and steering away from the high expression wines that really just knock you over the head with fruit and alcohol and you almost need a nap after drinking, you know, we're steering away from all of that. We're sort of trying to capture a more drinkable side of Spain, and I think you'll find that in all our selections across the board. You know, our biggest wine, the first one that comes to my head is Bigardo, which you work with. Toro. ich you weren't with. Toro, is famously…

Jerad

You know, I have a question. So, Kiko Calvo, right? I heard a story. I don't know if it's from you or who it was from. About how he has like the most vintages under his belt, probably than any other winemaker, because he's been traveling or I don’t know if he still is...raveling between Northern and Southern hemispheres

Alvaro de la Viña

That’s right, so I don't know if he's got the most harvests. But for a young guy, he's got a lot of harvests under his belt. Because he would alternate North and Southern Hemisphere before he started his own project in Toro. It's actually a funny story, because, he says, everyone in my town, Toro,  thinks they make the best wine in the world without having left Toro or drinking wines from out of Toro, you know? So he's like, for me to say that I want to know what the rest of the world is capable of doing, you know? So that's what he did. He traveled. He harvested at, or worked at wineries in New Zealand, Argentina, California and Europe, France, before starting his own project in his native Toro. And again, you know, I think this is probably one of the bigger wines in our portfolio. You know, Toro is famous for making these big, bombastic wines. It's a region with super old Viñas where you can really mature the grapes to like 15-16% alcohol and still hold acidity and still have acidity, so the winds are relatively balanced. But they're still so big and so over extractive. Yeah, they're monsters and Kiko Calvo, I think his wine still screams Toro, screams Tempranillo, but it’s done very delicately and in the end, this is the common denominator across the board in our portfolio, you know, we want wines that that gives the sense of place but that do it elegantly with drinkability and freshness. And, you know, I'd say in the case of Kiko or in the case of Tentenublo in Rioja? You know, they're very representative of where they come from. But they're on the lighter side of the spectrum, you know? So we're trying to sort of shine a light on this movement away from “alto expression”. But also, Spain is capable of so much more than just over extraction and over ripeness.

Jerad

I'm thankful. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful California's doing the same thing.

Alvaro de la Viña

Exactly, hey, the movement is the same. I think in California it's been a little later. It's been a little a little later, but, you know, essentially, it's the same exact movement. You know, you have that movement away from the big, bombastic sort of alto expression they used to call it. It's something that my blood bubbles when you say it.

Jerad

I think what's great about my vision for low intervention,  natural spectrum, you know, whatever whatever you want to call it, is it's more about how you accurately reflect terroir. As cleanly, or as accurately as possible. I think these these wines do it. Wine shouldn’t taste the same every year. It shouldn’t be engineered to taste a certain way.

Alvaro de la Viña

Exactly. And I think that's the trick of making good wine. You know, I think the good wines are the ones that do it elegantly. You know they find that optimum moment of harvest or picking where they have enough phenolic ripeness. And you haven't compromised the varietal character seeking freshness. So that it's that balance. I think that's what really, you know, makes a wine or sets a wine apart from other wines you know, a good wine, I think, is a balanced wine. Awine that that shows varietal character and at the same time shows good drinkability. And it's fresh, you know, not overripe.

Jerad

So if you weren't importing wine, what would you be doing?

Alvaro de la Viña

If I was not importing wine, what would I be doing!? I've never thought of that. For some reason I think I’d probably be selling something you know. I’ve sold stuff my whole life. 

Jerad

There's there's definitely a sales personality. And they're hard to find, like, you are diamond in the rough. It's very hard to find, trust me. We're always looking for sales people, email me if you if you think your up for it. But yeah, it's a personality trait, that is not for everybody but it's definitely needed.

Alvaro de la Viña

I actually went to school for marketing and have worked in Ad agencies and stuff, which essentially is selling, right.

Jerad

I have a marketing background….

Alvaro de la Viña

I’d be selling something, uh, and honestly right now, we're so happy doing what we do, man that I can’t really think of something that would make us happier. Again, there's just so much behind these wines that we work with. They are a way for us to stay connected with our roots and at the same time, sort of, you know, the stories that we have to tell while we sell these wines and stuff, you know, it's bringing a part of our culture here and sharing it with the rest of the world. It's not just wine. I think it's culture, you know. And that's something that really fulfills us, you know, sharing our culture with the world.

Jerad

Cool! Can you, you know, just call out your social? How people could get a hold of you. Find out about everything?

Alvaro de la Viña

It's pretty straightforward. I mentioned before that we're working on our website now. We do have something, call it a website right now, selectionsdelavina.com. More than anything, it's just a presence, so people know where to reach us and stuff. So that's definitely a way that you could do it, or instagram @selectionsdelavina 

Jerad

How many states are you in currently?

Alvaro de la Viña

So we're pretty much East coast from north to South, you know, from Maine all the way down to Florida. A couple states in the South I mentioned before Louisiana, Texas. Then we have a couple of midwest states Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa. And then we got the West Coast, you know, we're in Arizona, Nevada with you, California, Washington, Oregon and I think that’s it. We’re probably in a good, maybe 30 states? 20, 25, 30?  I haven't counted lately, but I think we are where we want to be, you know, where we should be. At least in the right market for wines.

Jerad

Yeah. Sometimes you don't want to push something that's not ready. You don't want to force something that's not gonna be a good fit, and that's something that I've been learning

Alvaro de la Viña

Sometimes, Yeah, I feel like that, you know. It will come and and it will come to us, You know? Our growth has been completely organic, so there's no need to push anything. We're not in a rush, but hopefully the more people that drink natural wine better.

Jerad

Cool man. Thanks for you know, spending some time with me and taking time out of your day and chatting.

Alvaro de la Viña

I mean, is there anything that we missed? Information that you need?

Jerad

No. For me, it's just more like a bio about you. And what you do

Alvaro de la Viña

I think you think you got it.

Jerad

Yeah, it's kind of introducing and getting people excited about and maybe a little bit of information just about the industry. The things that were going through, the things that we think about, that's really it. I didn't start the podcast to have a goal, “We're gonna create content, and do this, and this, and this…”. Like I have an outline for questions because I fucking forget Shit. But not because there's certain things I think this is going to accomplish. My only goal is to kind of shed light on what we do. How we're doing these things, you know, we're interviewing winemakers and distillers. We don't do a lot of spirits, but the spirits that we do source and distribute for Nevada are fucking goose bumps,  we have a mezcal that tastes like nothing I've ever tasted in my life. So just crazy stuff like that, we just want to talk about how things are done with the producer. We want to introduce people to the producers. We want to introduce people to, you know, everyone down that supply chain and just kind of have a chat. Really? It’s more about just providing information.

Alvaro de la Viña

I think having people get to know us? It's great, man. I want to thank you for having me on, You know, I’m humbled that I’m the second person on the show who was the first?

Jerad

Yeah! Number one was Michael Cruise. Are you familiar with Michael Cruse? 

Alvaro de la Viña

Oh yeah, of course...nice!

Jerad

So he was episode one. He actually said yes. So yeah, he’s a pretty cool guy.

Alvaro de la Viña

I don’t know him personally, but I know his wines very well. 

Jerad

It's cool, yeah, Ultra Marine is like one of those beasts in itself. It’s like this weird cult wine that everybody wants. And, you know, he got to talk about the idea behind it and different stuff like that. Most of the producers that were talking to are domestic for obvious reasons. But if there's any producers that you think would give value, or would love to chat with us.

Alvaro de la Viña

That’s a better question for you, man. Like if there is a producer that you're heavy on, that. you're excited about that you'd like to sort of promote and get out there and have people get to know. You should let me know and I could be the liaison and sort of, you know, introduce you and pitch the idea and I’m sure they’d be happy to do it.

Jerad

Nice! Yeah, just off the top, Bodegas Alonso. So what? What's the guy?

Alvaro de la Viña

Fran Asencio

Jerad

I know that would be cool. Just because I have so much to learn about Sherry.

Alvaro de la Viña

Okay, Well, tune in, we’ll be doing a [Instagram] Live on...hold on..let me check my calendar. We're doing Live with Urogallo on April 28th. So Okay, Fran Ascencio is the owner of Domain Urogallo and also owns Bodegas Alonso with his brother. So it's a good opportunity we will be tasting the Velo Flor, And I’m sure he’ll be telling us…

Jerad

Oh so you are going to be tasting the Velo Flor on that day?

Alvaro de la Viña

Yeah. And we'll be talking about that wine and the winery and yeah, it's a great story because it's one of the oldest wineries with some of the oldest wines in the sherry triangle.

Jerad

It was like an abandoned bodega? Or, how does that work?

Alvaro de la Viña

It was just not really abandoned. Just inactive. You know it still had its owners and stuff, but it was no longer operating. So the wine was just sitting in the bodega, just aging, aging, some of these wines are over 200 years old, man.

Jerad

So they are still adding to them now, right?

Alvaro de la Viña

They just started. I'm not sure how many years it was inactive, but they just started adding to the Solara now.

Jerad

Cool. I appreciate it. And, yeah, man, we’ll chat soon.

Alvaro de la Viña

Thanks, Jared. Have a good one brother.

//////////////////////////////
End Transcript

**The views and opinions expressed within this podcast are those of the hosts & guests, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of their respective employers or associated businesses. Any content provided by our guests and hosts are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any group, club, organization, company, individual, anyone or anything.