As the U.S. begins to open up again, times couldn’t be more exciting for the wine industry. People — trade members and consumers alike — are all eager to taste after more than a year of lockdown.
I recently spoke to a veteran of the Texas wine business, David Verheyen (above), who’s just launched a new wine distribution company here in Houston, Local Source.
David has worked in the highest levels of the Texas wine establishment. But now he’s trying to shake things up with his new company where the focus is on “relationship selling.”
As he notes in our excerpted conversation below, the big wine companies — fueled by even more consolidation during the pandemic — have given up on the “romance” of wine.
He’s trying to bring it back. And he’s not just counting beans. He’s counting people, too.
If you’re wondering why he’s standing in front of a couple of muscle cars in the image above, that’s because one his partners also stores his vintage car collection in their Houston warehouse.
Here’s what he had to say when we spoke recently by phone.
Local Source is currently hiring. See their website for contact info.
Excerpts from a recent conversation with Local Source co-founder David Verheyen, a 30-year-plus veteran of the Texas wine trade:
[My business partner and I] both come from background of working for really large corporations. So we wanted to focus on building something with a family feel and a local feel to it.
We don’t want our customers to feel like they have a number crammed down their throat from someone in New York, Miami, Atlanta, or San Francisco. We’re not the ones saying, “hey, we need to make this number.” We wanted to be about the wine and the family behind the wine — the farmer.
And that’s why we call it “Local Source.” Our people are from here. We’re not bringing in people from Las Vegas to come in and sell Champagne. We’re doing it ourselves.
We are also in importer. And we’re taking that piece of the equation out of it for our customers.
We’re looking for a more adventurous drinker when it comes to Champagne, Savoie, parts of the Rhône Valley, and parts of Southern Burgundy. We don’t want to be the “big company.” We don’t want to get in the away. We’re not built for that. We don’t want to play in that park. We are big believers in traditional European styles. And we’re also trying to build up our Italian portfolio.
Unfortunately, the days of relationship selling are over. That’s because of the technology. The big companies feel like they can dictate what the customer will buy. I started selling wine in 1989 in Texas. I never lost some feeling of the romanticism in this business. And I don’t want my employees to lose sight of that.
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