If it wasn’t painfully obvious already, let’s just say that the importer life is not all that Instagram has shown it to be.
I don’t think anyone can say they’ve truly made it until they've shared dirty futons on the floor in the Loire or quite literally survived off Daunat sandwich triangles from highway rest stops all over France. Grandée all day, that’s our motto. I started my “career” in wine just like so many of us did: we fell into it one way or another. For me it was a restaurant gig at the long-shuttered Mercat in Noho. I was in college, had no real plans - nothing even remotely resembling a vision of the future - and yet something about serving wine to interesting people was the only thing getting me through my shifts. Well, that and the near-certain promise of some sort of raging party afterwards. I wasn’t long for the restaurant world and a slew of menial jobs followed. But somehow I knew I’d have to come back to wine. Fast forward some years later, I’m wrapping up my last few shifts at Chambers Street Wines before starting my new high-powered, glamorous, executive role with Selection Massale.
For me, the highway sandwiches and dirty futons are what has made my job all the more gratifying. It's why I'm willing to jump headfirst into the uncharted territory of spreadsheets, government red tape, and traveling so much that I forget what my girlfriend and dog look like. Because it connects me directly to the backbreaking work it takes to produce these beverages we love.
Right now, the sun is setting over the mountains in the distance and I finally just had my first taste of takeout pizza since this whole thing started. A slice that normally would have been a six out of ten almost made me cry on this who knows what day of being locked down. We've moved out of Brooklyn into a house in the Catskills. It's a pastoral escape planned long in advance turned into a seemingly last ditch effort to get out of Dodge before it all went to hell. I, like everyone I know, am finding out just how uncharted this new territory is. I love this industry dearly. I hope it endures in one form or another, familiar to us now or not. I believe it will thrive once again. Well, until the global ecosystem collapses because of climate change (but that’s for another day that will be fueled by exponentially many more daiquiris).
In the end it will always come back to the things we love to drink and the people we love drinking them with, whether you're in a damp cave in the Loire or still stuck on your living room floor. The glasses emptied around the world and the people emptying them are the glue that holds this whole mess together. And I think you'd be hard pressed to find an industry as tight knit and focused on people as the booze business. For now all we can do is try to stay well, drink some good booze, and love each other. I can’t wait to see you all again.
-Tim Gagnon, General Manager at Selection Massale