It’s a great pleasure to be chatting with Brad Morley of Cana Wine Company today. Brad is our first wine category industry influencer. You’ll see why when you learn more about his story and his business. It’s Shared Spirits’ mission to share the stories of individuals in the spirits, wine and beer industry. We want to go beyond the brand and expose you to the people in the business. It’s our belief that people want to do business with people. When they learn more about the people behind either iconic brands or new offerings in the market, their experiences with the product are enhanced through their knowledge of the people who’ve built or are building the companies.
Enjoy this interview with global wine guy, Brad Morley!
Sherman: It’s a real honor to be here with you Brad. We’ve known one another for a while but have to admit, I don’t have a great handle on how you started in the wine business. I hear tell of some restaurant founder experience. Share with the audience how in the world you started in the wine biz.
Brad: Sherman, Thank you very much for the kind words and the opportunity to share my experiences with all of you. My love for wine started back in 1990 when I opened a restaurant in Upstate New York after graduating College at St. Bonaventure University. I did not know anything about wine except my father always had Blue Nun at Thanksgiving. I started with 13 draft beers and 13 bottles of wine, “ My Favorite number”. One day a wine salesman came in and gave me a bottle of 1986 Ravenswood Pickberry to taste as he wanted it on my wine list. Well, that single bottle changed my life forever. From that point on I studied wine everyday and went from 13 bottles to a 487 bottle wine list and eventually was written up 4 times in Wine Spectator for excellence in wine. I later sold the restaurant and moved to Manhattan to work for a leading importer calling on the top restaurants in NYC. Shortly after my move, the restaurant owners fell short on the obligations and I settled for my 125 case high end reserve wine list. I moved these 125 cases into my one bedroom apartment in Bay Ridge Brooklyn and asked myself what do I do now?!!! Well while surfing on my dial up internet connection I came across a web site selling in a auction format.. EBAY. I was one of the first wine sellers on Ebay and sold the 125 cases in 3 months. I left Ebay in 6 months with 50 Millionaires and 5 Billionaires as personal clients and sourced wines for them from all around the World. So today, CANA has over 5000 private clients and 13000 bottles in inventory, and now representing over 10 wineries from Italy in 7 States.
Sherman: There is a difference in being in the restaurant or hospitality business and the wine business. Wine certainly takes passion. Do you have any genetic understanding of your love of wine or your passion for the business? Any family heritage in the space?
Brad: Sherman, My Father and Brothers were always in the Restaurant business, But I have been the only one that got bit by the wine bug !! My studies have taken me to France 15 times and Italy 18, these two wine regions have my heart for sure !!
Sherman: You made a transition at some point to the fine wine side of the business. There are so many categories and ways to take a career in the wine business. What was your first job based solely around wine?
Brad: My first Job after selling the restaurant was on premise specialist for a top Importer in NYC. The factor that pushed me to the fine wine side was through my studies and the understanding of good wine and great wine..
Sherman: What is it about rare and collectible wines that you find most interesting?
Brad: The thing I love most about what I do is finding great vintage wines that have been stored properly and seeing the reactions and comments from my clients on how amazing the wines look and taste from CANA Wine Company. We take great pride in buying only the best wine with the best provenance. I personally inspect every cellar and the buying habits of the seller. We do not buy wines from auction, we know the history of every wine we sell. Once the deal is done, we pick the wine up in a refrigerated truck that then transports the fine wine at 56 degrees back to our warehouse. At that point, every bottle is in inspected, cleaned, and wrapped in plastic, so when you open the bag it looks like a new car.
Sherman: What is the most rare or perhaps noteworthy wine you’ve discovered in your years of buying privately owned cellars?
Brad: There is a lot of Brad’s big wine stories going around, It seems like there has been so many that I have forgot them until my memory is sparked. The Biggest one is locating Colgin Winery 18ltrs Herb Lamb 92,93,94,95,96 which were one of only two made. I purchased them and sold them for a very large amount to a private collector. Another is finding the Ultra Rare Double Magnum of 1992 Screaming Eagle, a bottle now that might bring $500,000.00.
Sherman: You learned your craft initially in New York City. Is that group of consumers the toughest wine crowd around or is expertise and consumer demand for excellence a global quality now?
Brad: The Demand for excellence in wine, quality driven as definitely a global affair. When people are spending a great deal on a bottle they want to know every little detail about the history of the wine before purchasing the bottle. CANA Wine Company tries to take a lot of the risk out of the experience for our clients. Every wine cellar we purchase is inspected by me personally for buying habit and storage conditions. We set very high standards for the wine we buy and sell. Our customers really enjoy our hard work for sure..
Sherman: Not many people would have the expertise to bid on a full privately owned cellar of rare and vintage wines. Have there been some big misses in your career as a buyer?
Brad: Hahaha … Yes indeed! There comes a time in negotiating in price that it becomes time to opt out. I have opted out of some great cellars. Some of the owners have come back and taken my price. I tend to pay top price for pristine collections..
Sherman: What are some of the circumstances that lead people to contact you about selling their collections?
Brad: Over the 20 plus years I have established a great reputation for doing what I say. It is pretty simple to get the word to spread about you. Do what you say and pay on time!
Sherman: S you actually travel to every cellar’s location for personal inspections?
Brad: Yes, I travel to every cellar and inspect. That is phase #2. First phase is getting price set.
Sherman: There are myriads of regulations and hurdles to doing your business. Has it gotten any easier over the years? I suppose you could school most attorney’s on the alcohol regs in their states could you not?
Brad: Each State has its own regulations. It actually has gotten harder to do business but hopefully it will open up over time.
Sherman: As we near the end of our time together, tell the readers how Cana Wine Company works? What is the company’s core business? Is there delivery available?
Brad: CANA Wine Company, operated an on-line fine wine retail store selling older vintage wines that have been properly stored during their life. Visit www.CANAWineCo.com and check it out!
Sherman: Brad, what have I missed? What would you tell a room full of people about wine, fine wine, vintage wine or your business that we may have missed?
Brad: The one last thing is that I have started a new division of CANA Wine Company called Brad Morley Selections. This is where I travel all over the Worlds wine regions and select the best small wineries that I fall in love with to represent them in States in the USA. I have 10 wineries currently represented and I am waiting on the first five wines to arrive in our warehouse. So please check out Bradmorleyselections.com soon or sign up on our email list on web-site or Text CANAWINE to 22828
Sherman: This has been terrific Brad. How best might our readers connect with Cana Wine Company?
Brad: Call me at 615-946-1784 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or web-site www.CANAWineCo.com