Haute 5: Power Players in the Wine and Spirits Industry

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Here, we take a look at the top players in the Wine & Spirits industry within the Miami market. They give us insight on industry trends, the competitive Miami market, their favorite cocktails and more. 

Patrick Richards 

Business Development Manager, Belvedere LVMH
Patrick Richards

How is Miami a unique market in the wine & spirits industry?
It’s a fast-growing city with many different layers, which leads to many different drinking occasions.

Do you find that the clientele differs here from other areas in the country?
Yes, the clientele is very different than many other areas in the U.S. mainly because of the diversity. People from all over the world live in and frequent Miami.

What about the venues?
Due to the fact that many venues are owned and operated by Miami nightlife pioneers like Roman Jones, Chris Paciello, Dave Grutman and Nicola Siervo to name a few there is a true “Miami” aesthetic and classic feel to most venues. Also, with the consistent year-round nice weather, many venues have outdoor components to them like rooftops, patios, terraces etc.

In the competitive wine & spirits industry, how do you keep your brand relevant?
I keep my brands relevant by staying ahead of the curve as it pertains to trends and consumer insights. This entails plenty of reading wine and spirits magazines and articles and working very close with my national teams―to drive brand innovation and excitement.

Favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is having the unique ability to engage with a wide array of customers celebrities, competitors, general consumers, account partners, distributor partners and trade.

Most difficult part?
The most difficult part of my job is telling people no. Not every opportunity is the right fit for my brands.

What’s your go-to cocktail?
Belvedere Unfiltered on the rocks garnished with two limes

What are some cocktail trends that you predict for 2017?
The mule and classic martini will continue to thrive and be a consumer favorite. Consumers are also gravitating toward more health-conscious cocktails with less sugar and artificial flavors (skinny cocktails, craft cocktails, etc).

Walid Hamid

Area Director Tequila Avion, Pernod-Ricard

Walid Hamid

How is Miami a unique market in the wine & spirits industry?
People in Miami are health-conscious and they care about what they put in their bodies. I think that is one of the reasons Avión is so popular here—it is unique in that it is all-natural and has no additives like many spirits do.

Do you find that the clientele differs here from other areas in the country?
Miami is a unique city, a true melting pot, from the heavy South American and Caribbean influence to the European immigrants and Northeastern snowbirds. Your average consumer tends to be more educated on spirits and wine than the rest of the country and is attracted to more premium and luxury products.

What about the venues?
Miami has experienced a significant boom in the past six years in the nightlife and the restaurant world. There are far more good, different options now, which pushed everyone to step their game up. For instance, I recall having only three cocktail bars or venues to get a good cocktail at here in Miami back in 2009. Eight years later, you have endless options stretching from Miami Beach to 20 miles west to choose from. The same goes for lounges and nightclubs where we see more crowd-draw to the smaller-sized lounges than your usual big clubs as was more popular several years ago.

In the competitive wine & spirits industry, how do you keep your brand relevant?
The great thing is that truth and integrity never go out of style. There are so many spirit brands with made-up stories and liquid that is just off the shelf, and someone slaps a label on it with their name or a celebrity’s name, and they think it is a brand. With Avión, we are single-source from a small town in Mexico called Jesús María, and our process is really about making tequila an art. It is inefficient and time-consuming to make. When you tell people the real story, about the people and the process, they get excited. And then I bring to life Avión with local, fresh ingredients and also with seasonal angles.

Favorite part of your job?
Being part of an amazing tequila brand such as Avión makes it easy to work with a various range of venues, from your upscale high-end luxury venues to your fun, local bars and lounges. It’s fun to switch things up often.

Most difficult part?
Aside from the glamorous fun part of the job, which is what most people see me do, such as visiting accounts, participating and attending cool events, there is that waking up at 8 a.m. after a 5a.m. night out part and handling calls with my team, setting up those cool events and doing the admin part of the job. It’s not easy, but when you love what you do it makes a lot more tolerable.

What’s your go-to cocktail?
It really depends on how busy the bar is. If it’s early in the night and the bartenders aren’t slammed, my go-to is an Avión Anejo Old Fashioned [the bartenders over at Beaker & Gray make a fantastic twist on it, and they call it the WW?]. If the bar is busy I’m happy with an Avión Reposado on the rocks; it really is tasty on its own.

What are some cocktail trends that you predict for 2017?
Less is more. I’ve noticed in the past year or so a drawback to simpler cocktails with fewer ingredients such as a Tommy’s Margarita, a Paloma and Old Fashioned. I believe if you start with a good base spirit, you don’t need to add much to it in order to make a delicious seasonable cocktail. I think that will continue for 2017.

Robert Pallone 

National Ambassador Ron Zacapa, Diageo

Robert Pallone

How is Miami a unique market in the wine & spirits industry?
Miami has always had a nostalgia to it, and is known as the U.S. gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America, so we are a diverse city that carries a lot of culture, which makes us unique to a wide range of visitors. It’s very much a tourist city, and tourists like to indulge in alcohol when on vacation, making Miami the second-largest
market in the U.S. for alcohol consumption.

Do you find that the clientele differs here from other areas in the country?
Yes, Miami is a melting pot of different cultures, especially from Latin America and the Caribbean. A lot of people say Spanish is the first language in Miami. I also say Miami is a very young city compared to others, so we are still emerging as a great city.

What about the venues?
Yes, I think the venues are a bit different in Miami compared to the rest of the country. A lot of restaurants and bars in the city try to add some of Miami’s local flavor to their menus. Also, Miami is warm year-round and in the summer months, it gets very hot and humid, so you see a lot more tropical fresh fruit-driven cocktails. However, the Miami drinking culture has vastly emerged within the past few years, which is great to see!

In the competitive wine & spirits industry, how do you keep your brand relevant?
Keeping your brand relevant is key to building any successful brand! It helps to find key strategic partners [like Haute Living] to work with that can help you tap in to new demographics and networks. You also need to curate unique experiences that your target demographic can identify with. I’m always looking for new, creative ways to showcase my brands in a subtle way that will resonate with consumers. One of my pet peeves is overbranding. You definitely need to get your brand messaging known, but it has to be in a tasteful and refined way.

Favorite part of your job?
I think the favorite part of my job is meeting new and interesting people from all around the world, along with the opportunity to travel and see some of the best bars and restaurants in the world.

Most difficult part?
The most difficult part of my job is multitasking and managing an ever-changing schedule that requires long days and nights. I wish I was able to just hang at the bar and talk to people and buy them cocktails and talk about life. But there’s also the rigorous and lackluster side of the job that’s probably typical to most jobs. We have do have offices with KPIs [key performance indicators]; it’s definitely not like the Mad Men episodes where everyone is sipping on cocktails throughout the day.

What’s your go-to cocktail?
Either a Zacapa Rum or Hilhaven Whiskey with a large ice cube!

What are some cocktail trends that you predict for 2017?
The cocktail industry is constantly evolving, and the boundaries are being pushed to new levels, especially with world bartending competitions like Diageo World Class, where thousands of bartenders are competing against each other for the title of world’s best bartender. Food-garnish pairings have definitely been on the rise along with unique drinking vessels.

Nelson Giacometto 

Senior Manager, Pernod-Ricard

Nelson Giacometto

How is Miami a unique market in the wine & spirits industry?
The weather in Miami plays a major factor for the W&S industry. It affords creativity amongst bartenders—making the cocktails just as bright as the day outside. The diversity in Miami equally plays a factor—cocktails are just as complex as its inhabitants, and rosé with or without bubbles is perfectly acceptable all year round.

Do you find that the clientele differs here from other areas in the country?
Like many tourist destinations around the globe, Miami has forever been a kaleidoscope of culture, but few cities in my opinion lay claim that they are considered as “second homes away from home.” Paris, Miami, New York [to name a few]—it seems these cities all enjoy repeat visitation as well as an expectation of discovery upon each and every journey. Clientele in Miami is simply different—personally, I love that.

What about the venues?
I believe Miami―Version 2017 is by far the most diverse Miami has ever been, and her venues reflect this dynamic, mirroring the market. There is something for everyone: rooftops, terraces and pools vibrantly stand out. However, thoughtful, urban, contemporary spaces have sprouted throughout the city, adopting cultural nuances from around the globe. This new creative outlet and direction is wonderful as Miami’s personality continues to develop today.

In the competitive wine & spirits industry, how do you keep your brand relevant?
Stick with your original game plan—embrace your DNA and ethos, and always keep one cardinal rule in tact: It’s all about the consumer experience and their pursuit of happiness.

Favorite part of your job?
Traveling and making new friends, virtually every day.

Most difficult part?
I love what I do; I love taking care of people. Difficulty is merely mindset.

What’s your go-to cocktail?
Outward-facing chair with views of the ocean: Tommy’s Margarita with Avión Reposado. Getting ready at home before dinner: Chivas 18 on the rocks. Pre-Dinner cocktail: Plymouth Gin Negroni― lower tick of Vermouth, higher tick of Campari. With friends, on the go: Elyx Vodka on the rocks with a lemon twist. At the Airport: Jameson on the rocks―should the bartender say, “For two dollars more, make it a double,” then the answer is always yes. With my father, anywhere: Glenlivet 21 Year with one cube of ice, or during the winter, Royal Salute 38 Year. When missing Paris: Ricard—simply served the French way. With my beautiful mother: champagne—always—Belle Epoque Rosé. On the West Coast [San Francisco]: Martell Cordon Bleu; in good company, possibly singing karaoke. Simply put, there’s a cocktail for every occasion

What are some cocktail trends that you predict for 2017?
This is why our industry is so wonderful—while we strive to create balanced, aesthetically beautiful cocktails and unique drinking vessels, ultimately the consumer dictates the trends, never the other way around. We hope you enjoy our cocktails as much as we enjoy creating new ways for you to experience them.

Donae Burston

Armand de Brignac

DONAE BURSTON

How is Miami unique in the competitive wine & spirits industry?
Miami is in the top 10 most important cities in the world for the wine & spirits industry. If your brand is not present in the Miami, chances are that it is not yet viewed as major brand. But what really makes Miami unique
is its international influence. Success in Miami can lead to success around the globe and especially in Latin America. Miami is America’s Riviera―when visitors discover brands in Miami, they often return home to spread the gospel. That said, establishing a strong brand presence in Miami can open doors for you worldwide.

Do you find that the clientele differs here from other areas in the country?
It is hard to define the “Miami clientele” as it differs by neighborhood, venue and the time of the year. I think the fact that Miami is a transient and tourist market itself makes it different. Given that we are a premium prestige cuvee champagne we know exactly who our clients are worldwide, and they are very often Miami residents or frequent visitors.

What about the venues?
Not much difference, especially with the increase of large and prominent hospitality groups expanding into the Miami market [Zuma, La Petite Maison, STK, Upland, Cipriani, etc.].

Favorite part of your job?

People! I love interacting with people and getting to know them, their backgrounds and more.

Most difficult part?
Saying no; I am approached daily about event opportunities and some of them are genuinely great but not on strategy for the brand.

What is your ideal meal to pair a glass of Armand de Brignac with?
With our Brut Gold, I love a tender piece of duck or pan-seared scallops. For rosé, anything spicy.

What are some trends in wine and champagne that you predict for 2017?
The continued growth of emerging champagne brands like Armand de Brignac brands that are truly special and not mass-produced, where they are not under pressure to meet corporate sales objectives—can truly focus on quality control and create something truly special.

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