Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back from the Bommarito Tasting in St. Louis

Paul and I just returned from the A. Bommarito tasting in St. Louis at the Ritz-Carleton in Clayton. There is a lot for me to talk about; I tasted wines from many different producers and many different regions that are represented in the Bommarito portfolio. There were lot of notable personalities there; for now I will note particularly Dan and Connie Burkhardt of Bethlehem Valley Vineyards in Marthasville, Missouri, as the only Missouri winery represented in Bommarito's portfolio.

I did get a lot of video footage from the tasting, including interviews with both Tony Bommarito Sr. and Tony Bommarito Jr. Tony Sr. is an iconic figure in the Missouri wine market, known for his commitment to integrity in his business; unlike the vast majority of wine distributors he does not play the discounting game. The theory is that heavy discounting signals that your product wasn't a good value in the first place, either because the product is inferior or because you haven't been able to invest appropriately in the kind of activities that add value to your product. I was particularly glad for the chance to talk to Tony Sr. and Tony Jr. as they are very highly regarded in the wine industry and have operated a successful and respected business for many years.

As I mentioned, I did get a lot of video footage (31 clips!), and I will be uploading it to our YouTube account and blogging about specific winemakers in the coming week.

I did run into some interesting industry people: Glenn Bardgett, the wine director at Annie Gunn's; Curtis Reis of Billington Imports, who's done tastings with us in the past; and Andrey Ivanov of Vin de Set.

I will note that Paul and I weren't the only Columbia folks making the trip; Tina from new downtown hotspot Bleu were also in attendance with a good chunk of her staff. It's one thing for owners and managers of restaurants to attend industry events like this by themselves; taking your waitstaff with you is an easy investment that reaps great dividends in terms of the ability to provide sophisticated, intelligence restaurant service. Kudos!

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