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.
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!!