Over the years I've failed at all sorts of things, though perhaps never more completely than I did trying to sell wine in New York more than a decade ago. After a short stint as a clerk in a retail store I embarked on what I hoped would be a more substantial career: selling wine for a distributor, calling on restaurants and stores and trying to convince them to buy cases (preferably five at a time) of expensive Italian wines.
I'd interviewed with a half-dozen importers and distributors before one agreed to take me on, for a very small salary and an even smaller commission. The idea back then (as it still is today) was that I would spend a short time on salary and move to straight commission as I amassed a list of reliable clients. Alas, this never occurred. Although I tried three different wine companies before officially abandoning my sales career, I never managed to reach full-commission status.
One of the men savvy enough not to hire me back then was Scott Gerber, cofounder of Martin Scott Wines, a wholesaler based in Lake Success, New York. He and his partner Marty Gold founded the company in 1989 with a few dozen brands. They're known for their strong selection of California wines (Robert Foley Vineyards, Pisoni Vineyards & Winery) and impressive array of Burgundy domaines (Domaine Dujac, Jean Noël Gagnard), although they represent a number of top Italian, Australian and Spanish wineries as well.