Downsized, moving into the busy season…

I moved the family in September downsizing to a smaller 4 bedroom rental, ditching the big house with pool and huge yard. Reality dictates otherwise, with triplet daughters heading to college in less than two years. Had to be done….and let me tell you, we moved just in time. We down sized from Wyckoff to Franklin Lakes. Yeah, I know how that sounds…

We have settled in nicely into our Cape. It reminds us of our first house. Very quaint and picturesque. With the move, painting the whole inside of the rental house, fixing a bunch of little things and getting settled in, we literally lost track of time. The girls started the Junior year of High School and I got swept up in OND wine business crazy schedule.

After a very long, slow summer that lasted into the end of September, I was yearning for and badly needed for sales to pick up. I got my wish. We had barely gone through the craze of moving and settling when, when October rolls around and…wham. Boy did business pick up! My 6 day a week work schedule has been nuts, but rewarding. This time of year the days are long and some nights made even longer with many and in-store wine tasting booked to pour and promote my wines. Hey it helps my customers and sells more wine. Giddy up.

November has been even better when it comes to sales and business. I hope the pace keeps up all the way until Christmas. My schedule will continue as busy until Thanksgiving, when I get a 4 day weekend. After I catch my breath and feed my face with Turkey and pie, there’s the last mad December stretch all the way until Christmas Eve and a long Christmas weekend. I hope get the chance to do a little fly-fishing both of those long weekends and perhaps fit in a Jets home game or two for some real R&R.

I really hope my next post isn’t months away like recently…heck, life got in the way!

Posted in LIfestyle, New Jersey, Wine Business News | Comments Off on Downsized, moving into the busy season…

Good deeds…

So earlier in the day, right after coming back from church I spot a baby turtle dove in our driveway…thinking not good. Shoo the bird into the bushes so the hawk or some other predator doesn’t get it. Then later when I’m doing the front lawn, I notice a grown turtle dove literally fly off the ground in front of the mower, just beneath the big pine tree. I stop…It was the Mama right by the baby dove. Managed to carefully capture the baby dove and put it in a bush next to Jim’s house. I get done with the lawn and go check to see…the baby dove is still in the bush. My heart is sinking by now…

I go on a bike ride, come back and the baby dove is still there. I’m thinking I’ve got to do something! I love animals from our cat, to dogs, whatever. I fly-fish and haven’t kept a fish in over 25 years. I use barbless hooks and let them all swim away to see another day. I couldn’t let this baby bird wither away…Should I call the local wildlife refuge? Sunday…they are closed. Damn?!

At this point I hear an adult dove what seems in the pine tree next to the driveway making its trademark sound. I look up and it’s a dove sitting in a nest about halfway up! A nest! Yes! So? I grab the long ladder, set it up safely against the pine try so I climb easily. Once I set up the ladder, I went to catch the baby dove again…which I did as it tried to fly across Jim’s lawn – this is where my experience breeding birds when I was 12-13 came in and put it gently into my Rad Grapes hat, which I fold so the baby can’t escape again and hold gently as I climb the ladder. Once all the way I grab the baby dove and put it the next right above me, not noticing another baby dove at the last second, which I scare and it tries to “fly away” and lands on the ground below. I’m thinking, “well that’s definitely NOT what I wanted or expected. Shit! Back down the ladder to secure the second baby dove in my hat and back up the ladder and into the nest with baby dove #2. The baby I saved first did not budge, figuring I saved it, I guess.. Pfew…both babies safe. My adrenaline was pumping so hard by now, my hands were shaking.

I put the ladder away and walk back out to the front to see if I can spot the mama dove, not paying attention to where I’m walking and sprain my ankle off the uneven sidewalk in front and wipe out. Glad no one saw it, damn it hurt…was that my reward for saving the birds? If someone had taped the whole thing we could money of the damn video…You wouldn’t find a better story in a Hollywood script.

How you treat those that are helpless and defenseless, says a lot about you as a human. I’ll take it…

Posted in Environment, LIfestyle | 1 Comment

The truth about NYC traffic slowdowns. It is not Uber!

“You can’t handle the truth!” That is about right in my view…

Where do I start? Well, for one, I’ve been selling wine in NYC for over 26 years and hence I’ve been driving into, around and out of NYC just as long.

As soon as the new “NYC Avenue redesign” started to appear a few years back, I foresaw that removing two entire traffic lanes from every NYC Avenue was going to create more traffic. Does it take a genius to realize that taking two traffic lanes out of service on every NYC avenue would be a problem? Duh?! One lane is “for decoration” and of course we have the bike lanes and Citi bike depots as well to take up even more space. Who’s freaking idea of improving traffic was this?

I drive 35,000 miles per year and from all that I see on the roads, traffic engineers are not the brightest people and kind of like meteorologists are free of any repercussions when totally wrong. By all accounts traffic engineers and meteorologists are wrong most of the time, as we well know by now.

Maybe adding 20,000+ Uber cars to the mix helped make the congestion even worse, but the vast majority of recent NYC traffic slowdowns are to be blamed for the idiotic redesign of all the major city arteries. Again, if you have a major Avenue with 5 traffic lanes, you have congestion due to delivery trucks blocking lanes to start with. Take away two of those lanes, like has been done in most of NYC you technically have only three lanes left and on top of that delivery trucks on either side leave what? One freaking lane open!

Do NYC traffic engineers drive in NYC? I have a feeling they take the subway, because if they drove, maybe they would see the hell they engineered and would be lobbying to change the re-design that is not working. If they actually drove in NYC it would be very easy to see why the traffic has gotten worse recently.

Drive down lets say either Columbus of Lexington Avenue on any given weekday morning. What happens? Two lanes taken out by Avenue redesign, plus two more lanes taken by delivery trucks double parked on either side of the Avenue and you are left with only one, zig-zaging lane for the entire avenue. Now try to fit 5 lanes of traffic into that one open, zig-zag lane. Voila! Traffic nightmare. How come no one seems to be talking about this, I cannot be the only one that has come to this rather simple conclusion. The redesign is clogging traffic and making city pollution worse! Seems to me this was a political decision all along…

It is not about Uber “clogging” Manhattan streets. That is idiotic. Anyone with the least bit of common sense that has driven in the city for years, could have envisioned what the Avenue redesign in NYC would create – WTF did you idiots think was going to happen when you removed two traffic lanes from every avenue?

Posted in Environment, New York, Politics, Traffic | 1 Comment

Work hard. Play hard.

Beyond wine and the wine business there are a number of other things I am extremely passionate about. None more so that fly-fishing for trout. From about March through October I have my gear, rods and waders in the car. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, especially while up in the Hudson Valley, I gear up and wet a line.

The link below is to my crude video from last week. Landed & release an amazing wild brown trout in Cairn’s Pool, on the Beaverkill. Drove up from my last appointment at Aroma Thyme Bistro in Ellenville. I had the entire pool to myself all evening. Big, big browns man. I managed to somehow hold my iPhone to shoot the video while reeling in, landing and releasing the fish. I need to get a GoPro…Enjoy!

Beaverkill Brown





Posted in Fly Fishing, LIfestyle | Comments Off on Work hard. Play hard.

Missing the little things in life…

Why do we as human beings seem to take so many things for granted? Things that we love and enjoy and still take for granted…At least we take them for granted until we risk losing them or lose them for some time, or even worse for good? What am I talking about? Well, to be specific in this instance I’m talking about drinking and enjoying wine.

I taste wines almost daily for the last God knows how many years and have been drinking wine for the last 35+ years. I swear!! ( Full disclosure; since I was raised in Spain and Portugal, I was blessed with enjoying a little vino here and there in my teens. ) Needless to say you’re probably not going to run into any other 48 year olds that can tell you they have been drinking wine for 35 plus years. Anyhow…I’ve been sick-as-a-dog the last two weeks. Upset stomach, low grade fever, chills, malaise, just freaking awful. The Doc said some from of “Influenza-B. whatever the hell that means. Only side benefit is that I lost some weight (again) – looking like freaking Twiggy, with my size 34 “skinny” jeans hanging off my ass – looking more like 32 waistline from Freshman year in college.

My appetite has finally returned over the last few days, as I seemingly return to some semblance of normalcy. This virus really kicked my ass. THE worst part of all of this that I have not had a wiff of wine in over two weeks. For me that may be the closest to going back to the “virgin palate”. I taste and rink wine daily and Oh do I love it so – it’s my hobby, my passion, my business and my profession. So that is why I realize how much I’ve taken for granted having been able to enjoy amazing wines from around the world on basically a daily basis for decades. I’ve been in the wine business for 26 years now, so that is one hell of a stretch.

I’m grilling fresh cut marinated pork chops we picked up from Waldwick Meats, our local butcher – its locally raised pork that roams, digs & forages on a farm until its ready. Some marinated vegetables will be added to the grill and some wild rice to finish things off. I’ve been thinking about what wine to open and still can’t decided. I may have to open a couple of bottles to make sure. Oregon Pinot Noir? Washington State Merlot? A Rose would work?! I’m not taking any glass or bottle for granted from now on. Life is too short to drink crappy wine…Cheers & Bon Appetite!

Oh yeah, don’t take the stuff you love for granted. REALLY enjoy it.

Posted in LIfestyle, Wine Apellations, Wine Business News | 1 Comment

Winter trip to North Fork wine country

I just returned from another long day on the road. Drove all the way out to Greenport, all the way out on Eastern Long Island and visited several customers on the North Fork. Also enjoyed a great lunch at The Blue Canoe in Greenport – The Miso coated Cod was delicious and so was my glass of Paumanok Cabernet Franc… I also had the chance to visit my friend Bob and wish him a Happy Birthday. in person.

Lately, I’ve been making the effort to throw one of my Nikon cameras into the car so I have a good camera handy all the time. Really enjoying having a camera handy all the time again. Should have never stopped carrying one. I see way too much cool stuff. It’s also important to stop and actually take a shot when you see a good one…don’t forget that the North Fork of Long Island is real wine country.

Proof that work in the vineyard never stops. Pruned vines cutting piled up...

Proof that work in the vineyard never stops. Pruned vine cuttings piled up…


This next shot, I actually drove past, turned around making a u-turn and came back to set up the shot…way too good to pass up.

This truck is parked in front of the former Hargrave Vineyard ( 1st winery on Long Island) now called Castello Borghese

This truck is parked in front of the former Hargrave Vineyard ( 1st winery on Long Island) now called Castello Borghese


Will try to post more cool picks as regularly as I can. Cheers!

Posted in New York, Restaurants, Wine Apellations, Wine Business News | 1 Comment

Per capita beer, wine consumption by state!

This was too good to pass up and I just has to share…

HIGH POINT, N.C. — A software programmer has mapped the beer and wine consumption of all the states.

Rajesh Korde, who runs the Significant Digits blog, used data from the Beer Institute website to map each state’s beverage of choice.

He calculated the beer wine index by dividing the wine consumption by the beer consumption.

Korde also mapped whether states prefer beer or spirits.

Check out the interactive map. You can pick your state and see the beer, wine & spirit consumption. Where are the real winos?


Posted in LIfestyle, Social Media, Wine Business News | Comments Off on Per capita beer, wine consumption by state!

Rose season

Being on the import and wholesale side of the business, I have to plan ahead. Most wineries in the Northern Hemisphere are releasing their 2014 Rose wines as we speak. That being said, we are getting ready for our Roses, while praying for Spring weather.

Rose wines have become evolved into a category that actual now sells quite well year round over the last 5-10 years. Even though Rose does sell all year long, there is an unquestionably noticeable bump in sales when wines from the fresh new vintage start arriving in the market, along with longer days and warming weather.

At Rad Grapes we ran out of all our Rose too early, back in late August. In order to remedy that, I’ve doubled our Rose orders vs last year and we are adding new ones. Here’s the Rad Grapes Rose lineup for 2015:

We’re looking forward to receiving the Del Rio Vineyards 2015 Rose the second week of March. This year it’s a beautiful dry Bordelais Rose made mostly from Merlot. Yes, delicious Merlot Rose. It was just bottled and should be ready soon…


Next we have a brand new wine from our friend Bob Shack at HB Wine Merchants, pictured above. Domaine Bel Eouve is a classically styled Provencale Rose, with great length, fruit and aromatics from the Coteaux D’Aix en Provence appellation. This vintage is a blend of 52% Grenache, 18% Cinsault, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Counoise, 5% Syrah, 5% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% Viognier. The Bel Eouve Rose should be in stock the second week in March.

Villa Giada Chiareto

Lastly I just tasted a mind blowing Chiaretto from Andrea Faccio and his Azienda Agricola Villa Giada. I was already a huge fan of his Barbera D’Asti Suri that we’ve been selling since September. This Monferrato DOC Rose is stunning in its depth of fruit, character and length. Just Wow! Since we I’ve just tasted it, the wine must be registered and posted for sale in NY, so the earliest we will be able to sell it is April 1st.

Rad Grapes is getting ready for Spring. Are you?


Posted in Blog Related, New Wines, Rad Grapes News, Wine Apellations, Wines Tasted | 1 Comment

The art of following up…

There are so many people I talk to that seem rather excited when I tell them what I do. It seems everyone would like to sell wine and immediately ask me about tips on how to get into the business. I tend to laugh it off and tell them how much I love what I do. Popping corks daily starting at 11am sounds a little glorified…it’s fun, but only a small part of what the job entails. I’ve hired quite a few sales reps and few, very few have the staying power. You’ve got to be the turtle, not the hare…I figured that one out a long time ago. Making a living selling wine is like running a marathon. Pace yourself and run smart…

Sales is a tough job, any sales. Traveling sales, like what I do, is a bitch. The vast majority of people can try it, but will quit within a couple of years. Not only do you need to be cut out for sales in the first place, but you must have endurance, persistence and patience as some of the necessary personality traits. Long days, lots of driving and being able to take rejection daily are where most get overwhelmed selling wine.

I’ve been selling wine now for over 25 years. 10 years selling my own Rad Grapes wines. Each work week I usually spend 4 days on the road and I absolutely love it. Experience counts for a lot, but has to be acquired and that takes time. Part of that is the level of wine knowledge and knowledge of the retail and restaurant sides of the business. Both are important and integral to success in wine sales. Like any form of sales it all starts with doing your homework. That entails figuring out what each customer wants or can use. Listen…Which wines would best suit the customer? Which wines can he really use? Trying to figure that out in restaurants that starts with reading a wine list and figuring out which wines may fill a hole or void on the list or be a able to replace an existing wine with one that is of better quality or price. When it comes to retail wine stores, I call the art “reading shelves”. I like to take a few minutes to “scan” the shelves of every wine shop I enter and figure out if there’s a void or need that one of my wines can fill. 99% of the time I find a spot or two and get to work. Next time you visit the customer, just make sure you have th right samples to taste.

The chances of making a sale or new placement increase dramatically when I taste targeted wines with customers. Buyers are much more likely to buy a wine they like and can put to good use that when tasting random wines, no matter how good the random wines are. You can and will make sales tasting random wines, but that’s akin to throwing a dart at the dart board. Again, like most forms of sales, you don’t always get the order right away. It may be a matter of timing, cash-flow or space. That means follow up is needed. If I were to guess, I’d say a good 60% of wine sales are made upon repeated follow up with the customer on wines he tasted and liked. That’s where the art comes in. Hell, that’s where you prove yourself and make your money.The art of the sales follow up is like “riding the fence” between being persistent or becoming a pain in the ass – Just make sure you stay on the right side of that fence. Scott Lawrence who years ago was the managing partner and wine director at Zoe in NYC told me, “No one follows up like you. That’s what makes you good.” I still cherish that compliment and take it to heart, every day. You have to know each customer and their personality on top of knowing their business to time how, when and how many times you may need to follow up to actually make the sale. Being detailed oriented and keeping great notes is helpful to me and has been. To be great at sales takes many talents rolled into an art form. Being organized, knowledgeable, diligent, persistent and patient are all required qualities. Sprinkle that with a little fairy dust and voila! Wine sales, again, are not for everyone, but I sure as hell love it…Tink?! Is that you?

Posted in Blog Related, LIfestyle, Rad Grapes News, Wine Business News | 1 Comment

Rad Grapes redesigned website is live

It has been a long time coming, but the day is finally here. My good friend and web-designer-extraordinaire, Jon Hackett just finished and launched the redesign of .

There have been a number of wines and links added to the website. I think the last update was in April and Rad Grapes has probably added 20 wines since then. Some minor changes, additions and tweaks need to be made, but the design stays. I really like the clean and elegant look. Thanks Jon!

Posted in Blog Related, New Wines, Rad Grapes News, Social Media, Wine Business News | Comments Off on Rad Grapes redesigned website is live