One of my recurring bits through years of running this business has been to let friends try and explain what we do when it comes up in group conversations.
"Luc goes out and finds extra wine, bottles it, and sends it to you."
"They find wines you wouldn't find yourself and send them to your house."
"I don't totally get how it works but they throw great parties every month."
All these things may be true in partiality, but let's break it down for the next time this comes up, or because you're personally curious and learning for the first time. We'll start high-level and dig in from there.
At our simplest, we are a négociant, or wine merchant. We buy finished wine, we bottle ourselves, and we release to our direct mailing list and to private (largely corporate) clients. We tell you where your wine comes from, you save money off retail, and the selections change every month.
Compared to a typical winery set-up, where you're getting the same bottles 4 times per year, with us you're getting to try 24 new selections from different producers, in the hopes of helping you discover new varietals and styles you like. Wines are priced to enjoy any night of the week, and you're free to adjust your mix and to start or stop the service as suits your needs.
The négociant term has existed in France for centuries, but we don't have as cool sounding a term for it here. Most négociants hide their sources behind non-disclosure agreements, but we take pride in publicly promoting the wineries we collaborate with.
My last name (Bergevin) loosely translates to Wine Shepherd (Berger) or Wine Merchant, so this all seems fitting. But nobody's ever been able to pronounce my last name (soft g, not hard) so we went with Tourist instead :)
We don't just buy any wine. We focus on the West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington), and pride ourselves on working with small producers who place emphasis on sustainability, minimal intervention, and organics where possible. We could run our business at higher margin buying cheap imported wine, but then we'd be passing the financial and environmental cost of international shipping on to you, so we don't.
We've been at this for over 6 years, releasing more than 140 wines from over 90+ producers. We have mastered being tourists of the West Coast wine world, and want to share our stories and bottles with you.
We've worked with multiple San Francisco Chronicle Winemakers of the Year and Winemakers to Watch. I'm constantly reaching out to new producers, past collaborators, and tasting samples to try and line up the next month's selections. We do the work of discovering what's out there and sifting through the misses so you only get to open hits.
Are we natural? Not exclusively or dogmatically. Save my natural rant for another day, but I've got some thoughts. I love a lot of natural wine, occasionally feature them through the program, but am not obsessive about the absence of added sulphur in my wine to the point that I would send flawed wines to you to so that I could put zero zero on my bottles.
I believe in good wine, good food, and good company. I believe in thoughtful farming, careful winemaking, and in the diversity and possibility of the west coast. I believe in supporting small business close to home.
I want us to all be comfortable expanding our boundaries around wine from the confines of our own home, and helping you to feel confident bringing that knowledge into a restaurant, bar, or dinner party setting. There are a few moments we specifically help solve for.
1. The feeling of standing in front of the wine aisle at the store, not knowing what the hell to buy, and opting for what we already know we like or some mediocre, mass-produced blend.
2. The feeling of looking at a wine list, not knowing what it means, and letting "wine gal or guy" make the selection or going with something we already know we'll like. I, too, enjoy Pinot Noir.
3. The feeling of not wanting to open your "good wine," because it's "Tuesday," and opting for the aforementioned mediocre blend from the corner store.
Familiar with any of these feelings? Keen on supporting small business and local winemakers instead of mass-produced supermarket brands? Are you someone who enjoys a glass or two on a Wednesday without feeling bad that you didn't finish the whole bottle and left it on the counter with the cork back in?
Me too. I'd love for you to support what we do and give membership a try. If you don't like it, you're free to quit anytime. If you don't like a bottle, I'll replace it with something you might prefer. Feel free to use the code friendsofluc at checkout for $15 off your first order, and I look forward to getting wine your way soon.