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Rocky Mountain High

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Last week I had the priviledge of spending a few days on the road selling Humanitas in Colorado.  I’m a native of California and am pretty sure I couldn’t live much farther from a beach than about an hour, but if I had to move anywhere without a coast, it would be Colorado.  The place is gorgeous.

It is also the home of my distributor, Veraison Beverage Distributors, which is really the official name for a band of wine die-hards founded by veteran Colorado wine sales guru Bob Cohen.  Bob has been selling wine in Colorado for a long time & is the absolute master of story-telling.  Which is why I work with him — he actually tells the story behind the wine — a lost art.  In today’s modern distribution era where huge corporate distributors gobble up smaller ones and have portfolios of thousands & thousands of wines, the sales reps simply do not have the bandwidth nor the time to really sell by telling the story behind the wine.  Finding a gem like Bob & his team is huge for a small winery like Humanitas with dynamic wines and a compelling story.

The trip started on Tuesday — I landed in Denver where Bob was dropping off another winery principal.  As she walked into the airport, I walked out — such is the life of a distributor — shuttling suppliers all over the place.  We drove to Applejack — one of the most famous wine shops in the country — and did a staff tasting in the back room.  Applejack has been a strong supporter of Humanitas – it was good to meet the staff face to face & tell the story.

From there we drove to Vail.  Bob lives about a half hour West of Vail in Gypsum — his house was to be my hotel for the next few nights.  After seeing a few accounts that evening, we retired to his house and had a small business review.  However, we were up early the next morning as I had an interview on Plum TV, the local cable station, at 8:30 on the mountain at Vail.  Despite the cold, the interview was a success — allowing me to tell the Humanitas story and plug the winemaker dinner later that night.  You can view the interview below.

I spent the day with a couple of Bob’s reps nearer to Aspen driving Bob’s 300,000  mile + Toyota.  Nice ride!  I returned to Gypsum in time to change and head off to our winemaker dinner at Matthew’s in Edwards, CO.    It was a fantastic meal paired beautifully with the Humanitas Wines, and a delightful evening talking with the 40 or so attendees.sure-beats-working

The next day was perhaps the most unique selling experience in my 29 years in the wine industry.  Bob & I were up early and at Vail booted up with skis in hand to ski to accounts on the mountain selling Humanitas for staff tastings.  Yep — with wine samples in our backpack, we spent the day skiing to accounts, tasting staff, and telling the story.  Incredible — what’s not to like about this business!

That evening, we changed in some friends house and hustled over to Beaver Creek for a tasting and presentation to the patrons of the Vilar Performing Art Center.  Ninety or so sensationally nice folks tasted Humanitas while I again, got to tell the story.  And for a really nice surprise, the management then gave us tickets to go in and see Kenny Loggins & his band perform — fantastic!

And it isn’t over.  The next day we were up at 5:30 to head to Denver for an 8:30 meeting and presentation of a $500+ check to Habitat for Humanity – Colorado.  This is what makes Humanitas click — when people buy the wine, we give back to the community directly.  In this case, the check represents our ’7% Solution’ where we give 7% 0f our revenues (that’s revenues — off the top!) to charity.  It represents 100% of our profits — all simply because the good people of Colorado buy Humanitas!!

Finally, we ended the trip with a staff tasting & brainstorming session with the sale reps from Veraison — one of the best group of wine folks I know — and now official ‘Humaniacs’!  From there, off to the airport and back home to Napa.  Despite the economy, life can be pretty rewarding when you drink charitably!!

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2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Wood wrote:

    I just had the immense pleasure of drinking the Signus red wine last night with Bob Cohen. It is true that he tells an amazing story. The story of Humanitas wines has me hooked and very thrilled to have my world opened up. The wine was exquisite- unbelievably drinkable, wonderful and delicious. This is a label that I am going to share enthusiastically- for the story, the vision and the quality of the wine- with all I know. It’s an amazing package!

    Friday, June 26, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Janis Irwin wrote:

    I am bringing a girlfriend with me to my place in Beaver Creek, CO. We both enjoy fine wine and would love to find someone in Beaver Creek that could join us one night at Splendido and give us a mini course on some of the wines you enjoyed with Bob Cohen or one of his compadres. We’ll be in BC from 11/18 to 11/21–not long enough, but all the time we could manage to get away on this trip. It’s my friend’s first visit to The Beav! We’re two fun-loving girls who don’t want to waste our time choosing the wrong wines. Splendido’s has always had a nice selection, but, left to my own devices, I doubt I’d make the right choices. We neede guidance

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 12:18 am | Permalink

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