I grew up in Wilton, CT and graduated from Fairfield Prep in 1994. I spent my high school years playing sports and working at the family store. Small stuff, sweeping the floor, stocking the beer cooler, making deliveries, etc. Occasionally I'd be allowed to taste wine at the shop but a glass of wine at dinner was never out of the question. I'd be quizzed on what I thought. After high school, I spent a semester at University of Vermont. At the conclusion of the semester I was politely asked to re-evaluate my decision to attend a university. It was clear I wasn't quite ready for life as an independent university student. I needed some time to discover who I was. For the next year I toiled in the local community college while working at the family store. I also did some part time work at a local ski shop and picked up shifts at various restaurants to add some extra cash to my pockets. My interest in the wine industry swelled but I still needed to discover more. I found my way to Fort Collins, CO in an pale yellow '84 Ford Grenada. I spent 4 years matriculating at Colorado State University. Okay, fine, I took a couple of classes. Truth be told, I did a lot of back-country skiing, hiked and camped a bit and worked a TON! I found a job at one of the larger liquor stores in Fort Collins, Campus West Liquors. I made my way to manager by the time I was on my way back to the east coast. Working at Campus West Liquors was a tremendous learning experience. I learned quite a bit about profit margins, large scale buying, management of staff, and overall operations. I'd like to think I grew up a little bit in that store.
After 4 years, I found myself missing the ocean (strange because I don't spend much time on it) and made my way back home. I was 23, and it was time to start to grow up. Time to be an adult. That was 1999. Of course, when my dad and brother tell the story, "Dad got wind that tuition checks were going to pay for a '79 Porche I had purchased." I sure do miss that car. I eventually worked my way into Fairfield University and graduated in 2002 with an accounting degree. Cue the movie "Tommy Boy"
Tommy: "You know a lot of people go to college for seven years."
Richard: "I know, they're called doctors"While finishing my education at Fairfield University I worked at the my family's wine store, continued to tune skis and even managed to join a band playing local gigs throughout CT. I turned myself into a workaholic, absorbing any and all skills I possibly could. In 2002 my dad gave me an ultimatum "Music biz or wine shop. You can't do both." Realizing I had no rhythm, the wine business was really the only choice, but I choice I was very happy to make. I married my beautiful and very understanding wife in 2003. Started our family in 2005 and officially took the reigns of my family's 800 square foot wine store in July of 2007. By July of 2008, my dad moved onto acting and I was on my own (he'll tell you I kicked him out).
Without going into to much detail, you now know a little bit about me and the perspective I bring. Of course I can't divulge everything. I need to save some things to write about. Wine and the wine business has been a part of my life since December 19th, 1990. I can even remember who the first customer was that walked into my family's store. It's a testament to my dad and brother that Mr. X. still shops with us today. I've been lucky enough to experience the business on the restaurant side, big box retail and small retail. Today, I am thrilled to be carrying the torch for my family's business and hope that I can continue to do so for the next 20 years until my kids take the reigns. They'll have to kick me out first though.