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.