Episode 282 of I’ll Drink to That has been released, and features Leonardo Locascio of Winebow, a wine importer and distributor he co-founded in 1980.
Leonardo’s interview is further evidence of how much the present day echoes the past in the wine business. When Leonardo started Winebow he looked at the market and decided that a focus on southern Italian wines made sense, because other importers had already snapped up a lot of the better wineries in the north. Southern Italy offered strong value and an open field to find new producers, if you were willing to introduce the consumers in this country to regions and grape varieties they had never heard of. This was back in 1980. Fast forward to today and that is the same assessment that young importers have of the situation right now. Leonardo faced a tough market for distribution and a steep learning curve for Italian wines amongst customers, but benefited from a vibrant and developing restaurant scene that wanted more and different Italian products. Likewise, these are market trends that are very much in play today. Leonardo found fresh faces in lesser known areas of the world like Oregon, Greece, Eastern Europe, and in the Japanese sake world. Again, all regions that importers are focusing in on as alternatives today. Leonardo decided to work with family-owned wineries practicing less intervention. That is also a focus that sounds contemporary. Yet these were moves that Winebow started making 35 years ago. If you want to hear advice about how to meet demands that are as much present today as they were in 1980, this is the episode to go to. The parallels between then and now are abundantly apparent. If the question is how to build an import powerhouse, here is an interview that explains how it was done in a way that doubles as advice on how it could be done in the future.
Listen to the stream above, or check it out in iTunes.
I’ll Drink to That is the world’s leading wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine