It is a beautiful brisk March morning in Madison New Jersey. The home of Link and Sofie Larsen is shining magnificently in the sunlight. The door opens to reveal a tall, slender man juggling two toddlers in each arm. “Welcome!” Behind him stands a woman with beautiful flowing brown hair. Their home is open, airy, and lets all the light in.
After sitting on the couch Larsen explains how he got into importing and selling wine. “Just going out to dinner I got interested in wine and started drinking a lot of wine. I’ve always worked in restaurants as well, like in Hibernia and Manhattan. There was a place in New Brunswick called North Star and I became the head bartender there, and then the wine director there. That kinda led me to working in Manhattan at Union Square Wines and from there I met my partner and we just loved Italian wine.”
Larsen continued to say that there are a lot of big importers, but not a lot of little importers of wine. He and his partner, Alexis Beltrami, wanted to import a very specific kind of wine, what is called Terroir Society. It’s small, family owned, and has organic producers. The wines are very representational of where they come from. Larsen and Beltrami then created a company called Terroir Society Wines.
Terroir Society Wines is a bicoastal company. They sell in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Then on the West coast they sell in California, Oregon, and Washington.
In addition to Larsen’s own company he also works for one called Lauber Imports. It’s one of the biggest importers of wine that there is. He says, “I’m physically selling those wines, whereas with my company I sell it to a distributor who then has people go out and sell it,” Larsen describes. “We sell primarily in high end restaurants in Manhattan,” Larsen goes on, “I actually have the top five restaurants in Manhattan. I can’t afford to eat there, but God it’s fun going.”
Before he got married Larsen would be in Italy three to four times a year in different wine regions developing relationships. There are twenty wine regions in Italy, and they have wines from almost all of them. Most of their wines are from Italy, however there is a small percentage from France and Spain.
There is an international wine fair called Vinitaly that happens in March or April where not all, but thousands of Italian wineries are represented and you can go taste all their wines at this major event. Larsen would go every year to build relationships with their exporters and distributors.
Larsen says his own company only takes up about 5% of his day now. “I worked so hard on my company every day for such a long time that now everything is sort of on autopilot,” Larsen comments. He explains that now it’s mostly just emails and setting up appointments for distributors and tastings.
Larsen looks once more to his family in the other room. He says, “I’m going to Spain in a few weeks to meet with a client that we’ve had for ten years. It’s hard to leave these little buggers behind. I never used to have to worry about it. But it’s a relatively quick trip so I should be back to this madhouse in no time.”
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