Mike Northup, The Wine Man
I have been in the wine business for over 30 years. I started my career in Albany, NY in the fall of 1972, working at The Wine Shop for Mortie Schwartz, the first American given the Merit of Agriculture Award by the French Government for his service to the wine industry.
It was Mortie who started my education in and passion for wine. I was fortunate to be introduced to wine through the 1971 German Wine Vintage, still considered a legendary group of wines. From here, I moved to Boston, after meeting my future wife Kathy, where I spent another 2 years working in the retail side of the business. However, on May 9th, 1977, we were caught in a blizzard while driving between Providence, RI, (where we had driven to pick up some of the first ever CA wine futures sold on the East Coast) and Boston. It was then and there that we decided to “go west, young man”…..and by July we were living and working in Southern California, where we spent the next 20 years.
I started out working for a small distributor and delivery service called Allen Beverage. From there I moved to Bronco Wine Company, where I had the privilege of working for Fred and Joe Franzia for 3 years. I started out covering the “West Side” of LA (Westwood, Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, and Malibu). In time I worked up to the position of Assistant Sales Manager.
From there, I went to work for Simon Levi, Co, a major wine and spirits distributor. It was here that I received an education in the integration of wine and spirits sales, as a tandem. At this point I wanted to see another side of the industry and started searching for supplier side opportunities. I eventually found a position with Vineyard Brands, Robert Haas Selections. Unknowingly, my timing was perfect, because not only did I get the chance to sell the fine French portfolio, specializing in Burgundy, but it was Vineyard Brands that was the marketing company chosen to introduce the new Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnays to the world.
After this experience I went back to the wholesale side of the business, primarily working with smaller distributors, specializing in working with “premium boutique wines”. Then in 1997, my wife was offered a job in Houston, TX that we couldn’t turn down, so I spent most of that time working with the small premium wine distributors in Houston (with a brief 8 month hiatus to Boise, ID). Then, in January of 2007, I decided to take my over 30 years of experience and start my own state-wide broker business here in Texas.