As much I try not to be overly Texas-centric here on the Franciacorta Real Story blog, it’s only natural that my adoptive state will pop up now and then. After all, Texas is arguably the most important “emerging” fine wine market in the United States.
It’s the market that suffered the least during the financial crisis and it’s a state with three major cities that have only expanded their fine wine consumption over the last 8 years: Dallas, Austin, and Houston.
Houston, where I live, is currently America’s fourth largest city and will soon surpass Chicago to become America’s third largest. According to data regularly reported by the New York Times, Houston and Austin are America’s fastest growing cities.
So it’s no wonder that the wine trade is eager to make inroads here.
Yesterday, I caught up with Christine Moldvaer (above, left) and Luca Salvi who have recently launched a new presence for historic Franciacorta producer Fratelli Berlucchi here.
The son of a race horse jockey, Luca was born and raised in Erbusco village in the heart of the Franciacorta appellation and he grew up with the Berlucchis, who literally lived a stone’s throw from his family’s home.
Currently, Luca works as an energy industry consultant specialized in representing Italian companies that do business here in Texas.
Last year he teamed up with Christine, an oil and gas veteran and a former analyst for Houston-based energy giant Halliburton, to launch a new presence for the winery here in the state’s most populous city.
Last year, thanks to east coast Italian wine importer Noble Harvest and the Houston-based distributor of fine Italian wines and foods Selected Foods and Wines, Christine and Luca managed to bring three palettes of Fratelli Berlucchi into the state (150+ cases).
Currently, Christine “brokers” the wine: While she does not sell it directly (Selected Foods and Wines fulfills orders and invoices each sale), she “works the market” as they say in the wine business, creating relationships and following up with restaurateurs and retailers.
A few of her notable placements have been with Tony Vallone’s restaurant group (including his flagship, fine dining restaurant Tony’s) and the popular high-end sushi destination 400 Sage, located in the city’s swank Tanglewood neighborhood (where George H. and Barbara Bush reside, to give you an idea of its exclusivity).
As Luca and Christine underline, they’ve just begun their work here. We’ll rooting for them and we’ll be following along as they develop their business.