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Written by Nikitas Magel   

NM: You've mentioned a bit about Agent White.  Of course, without revealing any top secret identities, what more can you reveal about him, your other partner operatives, and where they all fit into the larger organization?

AR: The Wine Spies are comprised of myself, my partner Agent White who mans the L.A. office, plus another full-time agent up in Sonoma County, Agent Grenache, who handles all our logistics and fulfillment.  And then we have two other part-time agents — Agent Blush and Agent Sparkle — both of whom do wine review and the occasional wine mission.  Along with Agent Grenache, Agent White and myself are the primary operatives.  And I'll just explain what our main roles are.  Mine is of the primary intelligence officer for finding new wines; I'm the one out there calling on wineries.  It used to be a much more difficult process to locate wines [to sell], but more and more wineries are beating our door down, now that they've come to know us.  We've been selling wine for almost sixteen months now, and we've established a great reputation as a serious sales channel.  I'm also doing most of the wine reviews; I would say about 75% of the reviews are written by me.  Occasionally, Agent White will also review wine, primarily the ones that we feature on our International Selection Sunday, where (every Sunday) we present a wine from somewhere other than the U.S. — often France and Italy, sometimes New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, etc.  Other than that, his primary function is that of the guy with the green visor and the sleeves rolled up; he's the guy who's doing all of our compliance-reporting, the accounting, taxes, and reconciliation.  Now, another thing I'm doing is the photography — I'm running around photographing the wines, which is fun.  I've never been a photographer before, but we've actually had two wineries offer to hire us to do all of their bottle shots.  And most of the bottle shots you see were done by me.

Agent Grenache in Sonoma County is the guy responsible for picking up the wine after the sale is over — picking it up from the wineries or the wineries' warehouses, dragging it back to our facility there, and doing all of the consumer fulfillment on those wines.  Come January, I will be back up in Sonoma County.  (We relocated from Sonoma to Monterey for a short period because Agent Sparkle was pursuing her graduate studies here, at the Monterey Institute of International Studies — where, coincidentally, a lot of actual recruiting for intelligence agencies is done.  Occasionally, they'll have a CIA or FBA or NSA Day.  And quite often she'll see guys in suits and sunglasses — the typical hollywood image of the government agent — vetting potential recruits by interviewing fellow students right there on campus.  She's overheard a couple of interesting conversations.  And whether or not she's been recruited herself, I'm not at liberty to discuss.)  Finally, Agent Blush, on the rare occasion that we feature a rosé wine, will make an appearance and  do the review of that wine.

NM: Life imitates art, I guess… or business, in this case!  And speaking of the business, I think it's interesting that you focus almost exclusively on the sale of California wines.   Given how vastly under-represented and under-marketed California wines are outside of the United States, can you tell me if and how you've taken into consideration (either now or in the future) the selling of California wines to international customers.

AR: Yes, that's a great point, and that's something we're been very mindful of.  And not only are California wines under-represented outside of the United States, but outside the state of California as well.  If we look at the makeup of our customers, we're shipping great quantities of wine to states like Florida, Ohio, and Illinois — they just can't get a lot of California wines out there.  Now, in looking at the international scene, we see a lot of opportunities, to be sure.  Is there an opportunity for an entity like The Wine Spies in different countries?  Yeah, maybe; we've been approached by a couple of interesting foreign groups, and have engaged in early discussions about firing up The Wine Spies in those different countries.  It's going to take a little more research.  But I think, in general, California wines are severely under-represented.  Agent White just was in Japan and Korea, and was shocked at the California wines that were there — those wines are of super-low quality, and at super-high prices!



 

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wine in the news

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