Sam Timberg, Managing Director at Meridian Prime, recently sat down with Jameson Fink of Wine Enthusiast Magazine for their biweekly podcast. Listen to the podcast or read the transcript of the conversation at this LINK. Enjoy!
Sam Timberg, Managing Director at Meridian Prime, recently sat down with Jameson Fink of Wine Enthusiast Magazine for their biweekly podcast. Listen to the podcast or read the transcript of the conversation at this LINK. Enjoy!
It’s incredibly hard to believe that I have been intimately involved with the South African wine industry for over a decade, over a third of my life in fact! During that time, I have had the honor and privilege to work with some of the absolute best winemakers and their teams in South Africa and some of the best professionals in the United States. Joining, Ross Toombs and Meridian Prime after five years working with one of the best South African portfolio’s in the US at Cape Classics was an incredibly tough choice and one that I haven’t regretted for a second.
Building the Meridian Prime portfolio alongside Ross, Anna, and Patrick has thus far been my most thrilling and challenging professional accomplishment. Starting a company in any field is difficult, starting a wine importing business based in the world’s most difficult wine market, New York, and trying to convince people to buy wines from half a world away with names they can’t always pronounce could be looked at as foolish. But, the wine industry in South Africa is on fire, the producers we work with are brilliant, fun, boundary pushing leaders that will shape the dynamic industry for decades to come. They make it easy on us.
To be recognized for this hard work is an honor, but there are so many people from past and present that have taught me everything I know or supported Meridian Prime when we were new or took a chance on us when our word was all we had. There is a long and very challenging road ahead, but I’m humbled daily by the people I get to work with and I can’t wait to see what the next decade holds for Meridian Prime and the incredible South African wine industry!
In January, I had the opportunity to travel through South Africa’s Western Cape winelands, my second visit during the 2017 harvest season, having visited around bud break in October with Meridian Prime’s New York and New Jersey Sales Manager, Anna Zuck. This was my 7th trip to the stunning wine country and I am in awe of how the industry has grown and matured since I first visited in 2005. What I found and tasted on this trip was consistently high quality wines from entry level to premium, a focus on proper clones in the most suited sites, wines with lower alcohol, less new oak, more precision, and a youthful feel in the industry suggesting the next generation of winemakers is ready to make their voices heard. To say I’m excited about the future of the South African category is an understatement, I think South African wine is now fully prepared for the prime time and that it is the most exciting wine region in the world right now.
To fully showcase this dynamic industry, Meridian Prime has amassed a portfolio of 15 producers across 9 wine growing regions with an additional four or five new producers to be launched in 2017. Thankfully, our enthusiasm for the category is shared within the wine trade and, more importantly, among consumers. Historically, interest in South African wine has ebbed and flowed within the trade, but has remained relatively off the beaten path among wine consumers. I’m happy to report that consumer interest is at an all-time high and for Meridian Prime this translated to a record sales year in 2016. Selling South African wine has never been easy, and I want to thank all our friends for supporting Meridian Prime and our wonderful producers. Thank you so much for the continued support.
During the coming year, we will use the Meridian Prime Blog to showcase our winemakers, keep you updated on our further expansions, educate you on the amazing diversity of South African wines, and post articles we think are worth a read. So please check back frequently, follow us on twitter (@samtimberg, @anna_zuck, and @meridian_prime), and keep drinking South African wine! Cheers!
The cover story of Beverage Media for January 2017 is an in-depth discussion of South Africa’s cool-climate wines and Meridian Prime superstar producer, Richard Kershaw, MW, shares his thoughts on why Elgin is, “the cooler place to be.” Thanks to Beverage Media Senior Editor, Kristen Wolfe Bieler for taking the time to showcase some lesser known regions in South Africa’s wonderfully diverse wine country. As Meridian Prime’s Managing Director, Sam Timberg says, South Africa, “has tremendous diversity in climate and the cool climate zones are making some of the most exciting wines right now.” Read below to find out why!
It is just a couple days until Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year. It is a day to be with family, relax, and reflect. A day to cook extravagant meals, to open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion, and to remember what is important to you. And Thanksgiving 2016 cannot come soon enough. For so many reasons, personal, professional, and political, this year will not be one that I forget quickly and in the midst of this crazy time I wanted to take just a second to share my thanks.
Above everything else, I will remember 2016 as the year my father, Bob Timberg, passed away. He died just over two months ago and I’m still processing his death and I’m certain that the holiday season will be an especially challenging time. However, I am deeply thankful to my family and friends that have been so gracious and helpful during this difficult time. The outpouring of support from all over the world, and from every facet of my life has been affirming and comforting. Thank you.
As Meridian Prime continues to grow, one of the most rewarding aspects, for me, is feeling our small team grow to become my extended family. Ross and Kristin Toombs took a leap of faith asking me to join them on this adventure and the past three years have been far and away the most challenging of my life from a business perspective. However, it has also been the most rewarding. Ross and Kristin are great friends, great parents, and they understand what is important in life and prioritize accordingly. Thank you both for being such great leaders.
A little over two years ago, having never sold a bottle of wine in her life, Anna Zuck, Meridian Prime’s New York and New Jersey Sales Manager, joined us. She quickly learned the ropes of selling wine in the world’s most competitive wine market and has grown leaps and bounds. I am so thankful to have her on the team representing Meridian Prime. Her tireless work ethic has set the bar incredibly high and future Meridian Prime staff will have to live up to her example.
Patrick Hughes, Meridian Prime’s consultant on everything from distribution and portfolio to pricing and label design, has been an absolutely indispensable addition. I have had the pleasure of working with Patrick in various capacities for over 8 years now. His mind is sharp, his knowledge over the US wine industry is second to none, and I am incredibly thankful for his friendship and guidance in business and life.
I am proud of the Meridian Prime team, but we would be nothing without the trust placed in us by our incredible partners in South Africa. Every day that I have the opportunity to sell wines from our portfolio I feel lucky and humbled. We currently represent wine from 10 of South Africa’s gorgeous grape growing regions across 15 top quality producers. For us, it is a prerequisite that the wines we represent are delicious, however, what makes me most proud of the producers we represent is their unwavering commitment to growing the South African wine industry sustainably. The producers that we work with go above and beyond to provide for their farm workers and for their local communities. There many excellent upliftment programs our farms are spearheading, from providing safe clean drinking water to those in need to providing homes and deeds to retiring farm workers. I am incredibly thankful that our partners in South Africa take these projects on and over the coming year we will be showcasing many of these projects on this blog.
All of this falls apart without our wonderful retail and restaurant partners in the USA. In the face of tremendous competition from multi-billion dollar distributors, other small and equally passionate importers of great wines from all over the globe, I am so thankful for each and every account that has chosen to work with Meridian Prime. I look forward to growing our roster of accounts in the years to come, but to those of you that have been with us from the start, thank you so very much.
All too frequently, I have found myself cursing 2016, but through all of the hard times, and there have been plenty, there is so much I have to be thankful for. I hope that all of you that take the time to read this will take a moment this week to reflect on what you have to be thankful for. From the Meridian Prime Family to you, Happy Thanksgiving!
According to Nielsen data, South African wine sales in the United States are up 14% by volume for the 52-week period ending July 16, 2016. The data also shows a 25% growth in value for total sales over that same period, indicating an increasing consumer willingness to spend more on wine from the region.
Wines of South Africa (WOSA) USA, a not-for-profit industry organization, attributes much of the growth to an increased importer focus on the region as a whole, coupled with greater boutique-importer demand for suppliers of small production, higher quality South African wines. WOSA has been working to amplify the surging popularity of the region by engaging trade audiences with a range of programs and events, including its third annual Sommelier Cup, a competition between more than 50 sommeliers designed to test skills and knowledge of South African wines. On August 13, 2016 at wine industry conference TEXSOM, Cheron Cowan, General Manager and Beverage Director at Harold’s Meat + Three, was named champion of the US competition, and awarded the opportunity to participate in the global competition in Cape Town in September.
“As we continue to educate the public, we’re thrilled to see consumers viewing South Africa, not only as a great region for value, but for quality as well,” said Jim Clarke, Wines of South Africa US Marketing Manager. “To see value of sales jump 25% in just 12 months is a true testament to both the skill and dedication of our wine makers, and the diligence of top-notch importers to bring those wines to market.”
Progressive South African wine importers have been at the forefront of those seeking out niche producers and opening consumers up to the complexity of South Africa’s subcategories beyond its overarching ‘New World’ label.
“I’m noticing that retailers and consumers alike are not shying away from higher end wines from South Africa,” said Sam Timberg, Managing Director of Meridian Prime Inc., a boutique importer. “The fact of the matter is that South African wines present great values at every price point, so you can be confident that if you are buying South African wine from a solid importer, you will be getting a wine that punches above its price point, no matter what you spend.”
South African Chenin Blanc in particular has shown to be an increasingly attractive varietal among American consumers, due to its ability to appeal to a wide range of wine drinkers. The grape offers a unique combination of mouthfeel, aromatic generosity, and freshness, satisfying Chardonnay drinkers’ demands for body, while simultaneously offering the lighter qualities found more appealing by fans of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. South Africa also boasts a range of old-vine Chenin Blancs, with approximately 2,500 acres of old vine Chenin, 35+ years of age, planted throughout the Western Cape.
Methode Cap Classique (MCC), South Africa’s officially designated sparkling wine, is yet another category that has seen tremendous growth in the U.S. market, up 51% in exports from South Africa compared to last year, according to South Africa Wine Industry Information & Systems. The Nielsen data shows that the increase in exports is paralleled by an in increase in the MCC sales of certain bottlings by over 500% from last year.
About Wines of South Africa
Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is the organization representing all South African producers of wine who export their products. WOSA, which was established in its current form in 1999, has over 500 exporters on its database, comprising all the major South African wine exporters. It is constituted as a not-for-profit company and is totally independent of any producer, wholesaling company or government department but is recognized by the South African Export Council. WOSA's mandate is to promote the export of all South African wines in key international markets including the United States.
In our second installment of the Winemaker Series, Sales Manager Anna Zuck interviewed winemaker Jacques Wentzel from Black Elephant Vintners in the Franschhoek Valley. Black Elephant Vintners produces a wide range of wines with unique personalities and packaging to match. Meridian Prime is proud to import three wines from them: Two Dogs, a Peacock, and a Horse Sauvignon Blanc, Timothy White, and Nicholas Red.
Anna Zuck (AZ): Where did you grow up?
Jacques Wentzel (JW): I was born on Robben Island as my parents were working for the South African Correctional Services and were stationed on the island at the time. Everyone always ask about Madiba and the political situation. To be honest, I was a kid growing up on an island, life couldn’t be better!
AZ: Where and what did you study?
JW: I studied Viticulture & Oenology at Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch.
AZ: You've worked on other wine farms within South Africa as well as abroad, where has wine taken you?
JW: Wine is an awesome thing especially if you speak the language. I have been very fortunate to be able to travel, see vineyards, wineries, meet winemakers and taste their wines. I have spent most f my wine travels in France and more specifically Champagne.
AZ: How and when did you become involved with Black Elephant Vintners?
JW: At the end of 2011 I was feeling really burnt out from running wineries and making wine for “other people” I decided it was time for change and took the leap of faith. This was a really hard decision as it meant giving up permanent employment and financial security. I started playing around with ideas and a couple of wines as well as consulting to smaller producers. A chance meeting at the end of 2012, or as we like to call it “Synchronicity”, with Kevin and Raymond quickly evolved into Black Elephant Vintners and off we went in 2013.
AZ: I know you like to stick to the basics - what is your approach to winemaking, and to making wines in Franschhoek specifically?
JW: I think I am more into viticulture than winemaking. I try to find interesting parcels of fruit, grown by passionate like-minded farmers, and then just let the wine make itself. Franschhoek is a small but extremely diverse place, the more parcels you have to work with the better the end result.
AZ: What is your favorite and least favorite varietal to work with?
JW: Sjoe, difficult one to put my finger on. At the moment I am quite into co-fermentation, I love the way the different varieties takes hands to build a wine that’s so much more interesting than a single varietal. Although I love drinking Sauvy, I would say it’s my least favorite to work with, it keeps me awake at night!
AZ: Two Dogs, A Peacock and A Horse Sauvignon Blanc has absolutely taken over New York and I have yet to pour it for someone who didn't like it - what is it's (or your) secret?
JW: No secrets here, we don’t try to force the wine into a specific style. It is what it is, a Franschhoek Sauvignon Blanc.
AZ: And where oh where did the name come from?!
JW: Obviously we are having a bit of fun here, there are to many African animals on South African wine labels, so we chose a random bunch of animals. It’s awesome to do tastings and events with this wine as people come up with all sorts of names and that’s what the wine is about. Enjoy it and making up your own story. We are quite into design, so the label itself tells the Franschhoek story. Turn the bottle on its side, you will see the Cape Dutch cable (the dutch came first to the valley). In the middle of the crest you will see an “upside down” Y, which is a reference to the Eiffel tower on Franschhoek’s French heritage. Put the bottle on its side again and the Y represents the South African flag; we all live happily in South Africa, animals and humans alike.
AZ: All of the Black Elephant wines have independent labels and can stand alone, what is the purpose of this for you guys?
JW: Wine is about stories. The easy thing would have been to call all the wines Black Elephant Vintners Sauvignon Blanc etc. We chose the road less travelled as this gives us the opportunity to tell many different stories.
AZ: We hear rumors about bushvine Semillon planted in 1905, do tell!JW: Patience my dear Anna …….
AZ: We hear you just earned the title of Iroman and completed the Cape Epic, first of all, congratulations! Has this always been dream of yours?
JW: Not really but I had a bad spell of health about 3 years ago and decided to make a couple of changes to my lifestyle. I think everybody should go on an Epic adventure in their lifetime, completing the Cape Epic and Ironman this year is only the start of mine.
AZ: Lastly, if you weren't making wine, what would you be doing?
JW: I would be on my bike, travelling to world, meeting people, eating and drinking great food and wine.
Looking for a great warm-weather wine pairing for your backyard BBQ? Wine writer Shanika Hillocks suggests Oldenburg Chenin Blanc to pair with her harissa-spiced BBQ chicken recipe: Article link here.
This is the first installment of the Meridian Prime Winemaker Series. Before the end of the year, we will introduce you to each of the winemakers that we have the honor of representing. For our first interview we chose Nico Grobler, the winemaker from Eikendal Vineyards in Stellenbosch and the mind behind La Brune Pinot Noir from Elgin. Eikendal has been the foundation of our portfolio since day 1 and I couldn’t imagine starting this series with anyone else. Nico, at 33, a baby by winemaker standards, is already crafting some of South Africa’s finest wines. More than that, he is a wonderful father, husband, and friend. Enjoy!
Sam Timberg (ST): How old are you?
Nico Grobler (NG): It depends, when I’m making wine I’m a strong 19 year old, playing with my 5 year old and 1 year old daughters? Well let’s just say I feel a bit older than 33 that I am. They just have so much energy!
ST: Where did you grow up?
NG: I grew up in the Mpummalanga province in South Africa. We were normal farmers in that area -corn, livestock etc. So growing something, smelling fresh ploughed soil, feeling terroir, working with what is given to you from above is in my blood.
ST: Did you study winemaking or viticulture and how did that decision influence your approach to making wine?
NG: I studied Law to begin with…yes…law…was pretty good at law school…I would’ve made a pretty cool Will Gardner. But, I have the need to create something from the land, so it was a pretty easy move from studying law at the University of Stellenbosch to studying viticulture and winemaking. I ended up getting an MSc in viticulture. For me, making wine is a simple approach, if you want to become a great winemaker you need to grow your own grapes and you need to learn how to shape flavours in your vineyards according to your terroir. To do that you have to have a great understanding of how the physiology of how the vine works and how to use these processes to create the flavours you want. Viticulture is the science. Winemaking is the philosophy, it’s what you feel in your veins. The key is to adapt the philosophy to the science. Not the other way around. Viticulture for me is technical, all about timing, using light at just the correct time etc., winemaking is having processes in place to preserve those flavours you created in the vineyard.
ST: How did you first come to Eikendal? What year?
NG: I did my practical as a student in my final year at university at Eikendal. That was 2005. I started in 2006 as assistant winemaker and took over the winemaking and viticulture seat in 2009. In the middle of 2015 I became the Cellar Master of Eikendal. I also overlook the business side as well, which I quite enjoy.
ST: What is your approach to making wines at Eikendal?
NG: Great wines are created from a lot of small complexities. So, keep it natural, keep it simple, if you do something with the wine it needs to make sense. The best winemaker is the one who does the least. It is all about allowing the terroir do the talking.
ST: What is your favorite varietal to work with? What is your least favorite?
NG: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are on top of my list. I do enjoy producing Bordeaux Cultivars, but Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are all about terroir and what is in your veins. I WILL NEVER EVER PRODUCE CHENIN BLANC!
ST: When people talk about Eikendal Wines in 15 years what do you want them to say?
ST: Tell me about La Brune - what inspired this project?
NG: I have been privileged enough to travel the world but specifically to Burgundy numerous times. I have made a very good friend and mentor named Bruno Lorenzon who is a producer in Mercurey a small village. I fell in love with the philosophy of Burgundy - elegance, finesse, purity, freshness, tightness and length. And, there is only one wine you can do that with and that is Pinot Noir. Bruno planted the seed in my mind that every winemaker needs to have a ‘secret’ wine, the wine that is just his and no one else’s. It keeps you creative, inspired and it fills your veins with passion. I am lucky enough that Eikendal has an understanding towards that and allowed me to pursue my passion off making Pinot Noir.
ST: Why did you choose Elgin for La Brune?
NG: Simple answer – Terrior. Elgin is cool climate, has long slow ripening, and great soil which is perfect for Pinot Noir.
ST: What wine are you most proud of?
NG: That’s like asking me to pick between my kids! Every wine at Eikendal has a story to tell and that includes La Brune. My challenge is to produce wines that tell the story of the terroir. I am proud when I manage to install that into the wines that I produce.
ST: On your Chardonnay you use a portion of bush vines - I’ve never seen that before. Why did you make that decision and what does it add to your wine?
NG: Going back to the land, it is the most natural way of growing a vine. It will show terroir and terroir only, diffused sunlight into the canopy, low growth and small yield with NO irrigation.
ST: How has climate change affected the vines at Eikendal?
NG: We have experienced how gutsy our vines are. We are very technical about irrigation and have been preparing our vines for several years to adapt to receiving less water. 2016 has been the driest vintage on record. It is also the least we have irrigated and our vines were in superb condition.
ST: Who is your mentor?
NG: I am lucky to know Bruno, he has played and is still playing a big part in my winemaking philosophy and career. My wife, who is the actual La Brune, plays a big part as well, she needs to listen to all my moans and groans but we also get to share those special little moments in wine.
ST: If you weren’t making wine what would you do? -ST
NG: I would’ve won more green jackets than Jordan Spieth!
Last week I became a naturalized citizen of the United States, and what an amazingly proud moment it was in my life.
During the oath ceremony the MC made a comment that resonated so strongly with why I started Meridian Prime. He said (and I am paraphrasing here) that becoming a U.S. citizen did not mean that we had to forget about the country that we came from, or to forget about our traditions and cultures. He encouraged us to bring our traditions and cultures with us, and to share these with others as this was one of the things that makes America great. Meridian Prime is an embodiment of that ideal, to share the culture and wines of South Africa with wine lovers in the United States.
South Africa is an incredible country. The beauty is unrivaled, the people are some of the friendliest and most welcoming you could ever meet, and the wines are quite simply sublime. Unfortunately, many Americans will never get the opportunity to travel to my motherland and experience the beauty of its landscape or its people, but I can introduce them to the wonderful wines that are a product of both the land and the people.
Wine is not just a product of grapes. Wine embodies the soils of the land, the radiance of the sunlight that warms the vines, the care of the hands that nurture and harvest these vines and the passion of the winemakers that craft and architect the wine. Every bottle holds the essence of the country and its people within its glassy memorial, just waiting to be opened, released and savored.
When I drink a bottle of our South African wine, I can close my eyes and smell the distinctive African earth, feel the warmth of the sun on my cheeks and the smell of the ocean breeze. I feel my hands moving through the wavy green grass, I hear the songs of the abundant bird-life and I see the heart-warming smiles of the people that I’ve met. South Africa is a country that fills your heart with joy.
It is with great pride that we present the Meridian Prime portfolio for your enjoyment. And we hope that when you taste our wines that every sip will either take you back to the South Africa that you have experienced, or make you desire to visit there someday soon.
Ever get confused when wine geeks start discussing wine? Well, our friends at Tasting Table interviewed a few wine pros, including Meridian Prime’sManaging Director, Sam Timberg to decode the buzzwords. Thanks to Tasting Table’s Alison Spiegel for this great piece!
Serendipity has been good to Meridian Prime. Had I not been stationed one booth away from Ross and Kristin Toombs at the New York Wine Festival in early 2013 there is little to no chance that I would be working with them today. And serendipity struck once again when I met Meridian Prime’s first salesperson, Anna Zuck (@anna_zuck), at a tasting at Kessler Wines in Midtown Manhattan. Anna, killing time before dinner with friends, wandered into the shop because of the sign out front advertising a “South African Wine Tasting.” Amazingly, Anna had just recently returned from living in South Africa for a year and she had returned with the same passion for South Africa and South African wine that I did after my first trip to South Africa in 2005. We chatted about the wines I was pouring and Meridian Prime for a little while and then she whipped out her I-phone and in her notes was a list with easily 25 South African wine estates that she loved. I was incredibly impressed and as she was leaving she gave me her business card and said, “let me know if you’re ever hiring.” As luck would have it in the not to distant future we were hiring and Anna was at the top of our list of candidates. We are incredibly lucky to have her on the team. She has been an absolutely wonderful addition to our team and I’m thrilled that she has written a little bit about her path to Meridian Prime. Take a look! ~ Sam Timberg
At Meridian Prime we are very proud of our personal connection to South Africa and the incredible wines this country produces. I wanted to take the opportunity, as our first employee, to share how I fell in love with this beautiful country and its world-class wines.
I graduated from university in Canada with a degree in teaching and geography, but I always knew that my capacity to work with students would not be in a typical classroom setting. I started my career instead in the travel industry; running the hiring of, and organizing training for, college students who would spend their summers traveling with teenagers to countries across the globe. For almost 10 years, I also happened to be one of the people crazy enough to do it.
After my first 6-week trip to southern Africa (with 18 teenagers in tow), South Africa was, and still is, the only country I have ever visited that when boarding my trans-Atlantic flight back home, I knew I wasn’t done. I hadn’t explored enough, learned enough, and I certainly hadn’t tasted enough. Two trips later, and my bags were packed on a yearlong adventure living in Cape Town that ultimately ended in joining the team at Meridian Prime.
I always say that I fell into the wine industry backwards, but from countless conversations with wine shop owners and buyers, nobody really falls into the wine industry forwards. Mozel Watson, who is a great supporter of South African wine and Meridian Prime, is the owner of the new and thriving Pompette Wine Shop in Harlem. He fell into wine early in life when Whitecastle and McDonald’s just weren’t giving him the hours he needed. After spending a few years in the basement stocking shelves, he developed an interest in discovering what was in the bottles he was lugging around. Our VP and Managing Director Sam Timberg, actually introduced Mozel to his very first South African wine 5 years ago, and after working at a number of wine shops throughout New York City to hone his palate and his skills, he is now successfully running his own beautiful shop, raising the bar for wine in Harlem, carrying twelve South African wines from Meridian Prime alone, and bringing his passion for wine back to the neighborhood he grew up in.
After living in South Africa and discovering the passion and caliber of winemakers there, South African wine is something that I can speak about with a personal connection and with a belief that our estates are making some of the most impressive wines in the world. The feeling of community and camaraderie that I first found when learning about wine during my time in the Cape Winelands, is also the same that I put forth in all of my relationships with our accounts and customers here in the US; my hope is that with every tasting and conversation I have about South African wine, you will see where the industry is coming from, and most of all, where this category is going.
As we begin 2016, I can confidently say Meridian Prime has built one of the finest and most diverse portfolios of South African wine in the United States.
We currently represent over 50 wines from 14 producers spanning 8 of South Africa’s gorgeous wine regions. From mountain top vineyards overlooking Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, to some of Stellenbosch’s most coveted terroir in the Banghoek Valley, to a single vineyard of stunning Old-Vine Chenin Blanc in Montagu, to the cool climate slopes of Elgin, we are proud to represent some of the best wines being produced in South Africa and hope to have the opportunity to share them with you soon.
And, as proud as I am about our portfolio, it’s still hard for me to believe how far we have come in such a short amount of time. As a startup in the multi-billion dollar wine industry, working with a historically challenging category, and focused on selling in New York City, the world’s most difficult wine market, we have been faced with untold hundreds of challenging, often bruising, decisions. The one that stands above the rest for me is our decision to focus exclusively on South African wine. We made this decision for a few reasons. First, the quality of South African wine is better than at any time since the first Cape wines were produced in 1658, and we relish the opportunity to showcase this. Secondly, we are a small team, just 4 people, but combined, we have over 23 years of experience passionately advocating and selling South African wine in the US and each of us agreed that our strength was in specialization. Lastly, our commitment to exclusively represent South African wine is a vote of total confidence in the future of the South African wine industry, one that, I believe, has attracted many of our producers to work with us.
Thank you for visiting our website today. I encourage you to follow Meridian Prime (@meridian_prime) and me (@samtimberg) on Twitter where we will share lots of news on public tastings, new ratings, and general information on the South African wine industry. You can also check back regularly here as we will be updating our blog regularly with our take on South African wine, startup challenges and successes, guest blogs, and lots more. In the coming months we will also publish interviews with each of our winemakers so you can start to get to know them as well as we do. If you have any questions about Meridian Prime, please do not hesitate to reach out to us from the Contact page.