An Update on the Artisanal Fine Wine & Spirits Division
A Q&A with Laura DePasquale VP/GM, Artisanal Fine Wine & Spirits Division
The Artisanal Fine Wine & Spirits Division in Florida has been active for two years now. Tell us about the growth your team has had.
Over the past two years, our team has had phenomenal growth. When the Artisanal Fine Wine & Spirits Division group began, we hit the ground running with five team members. Today, we have 11 team members in total who are calling on 545 accounts and managing 1,650 customers in the state of Florida. Our supplier base has grown tremendously — we now have 13,500 SKUs and 400 winery brands in our portfolio.
In a world increasingly dominated by large brands, there are still thousands of small family wineries – walk us through the process and the difficulty level of locating and researching these smaller, artisanal suppliers and fine wines.
There are many steps when attracting and securing artisanal suppliers to bring to our market. There is not as much available industry data for artisanal wines as there is for other categories. So we rely very much on my personal expertise and experience. I have over 20 years of experience in the wine industry, working for wineries, suppliers and being involved in wine education on many levels. This has increased my network in the artisanal space and is something that makes our division unique.
Along with my knowledge, getting customer feedback is critical, so our team is in the field conducting research in different markets often. We make sure to speak to counterparts to have a holistic view of trends and new products and we also pay close attention to social media, following pacemakers and trendsetters in the industry. Through this, we are able to identify the best suppliers to bring to our portfolio and place them in our customer accounts.
After you have conducted your market research, what is your algorithm when considering suppliers to bring into Southern Glazer’s portfolio?
It’s important that we continue to align the Artisanal Fine Wine & Spirits portfolio with the vision of Southern Glazer’s. Before representing a supplier, we want to make sure their wine is of extremely high quality. We make sure that the supplier is family owned and offers a specific “terroir,” or sense of place.
The demand to represent artisanal wines is very high. We tend to compete with local, small distributers. What makes Southern Glazer’s different is our industry-leading logistics capabilities that smaller distributors just can’t offer. So, when considering suppliers to bring into Southern Glazer’s portfolio, we do our due diligence to vet each supplier accordingly, but also educate each supplier on the business intelligence and distribution expertise we have to offer.
The Artisanal Fine Wine & Spirits team is moving to a new location this year. What will this location provide and how will this new location benefit the work of the artisanal team and the suppliers you work with?
We are very excited about our new space that will be opening this year in the Wynwood art district of Miami. Hospitality is one of the core values of Southern Glazer’s and the artisanal team and our new location speaks to that. In our new space, we will be able to bring our restaurant teams to the location and take the fear out of wine. We will hold a high standard of education so that all levels of a restaurant group – servers, bartenders, management - will be confident and be able to speak about the varietals and brands that they carry on their menu as part of our portfolio. This new space will be about integrating wine into the community with opportunities to come by for tastings. Our suppliers will also be able to host education seminars for our buyers and for our sales consultants. We look forward to the opening of this new space as this will align with the education vision and mission of Southern Glazer’s.