Keeping the Stories Behind Wines Alive With Brendan Quigley of Quigley Fine Wines

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Feb 3, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Keeping the Stories Behind Wines Alive With Brendan Quigley of Quigley Fine Wines

Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by

Brendan Quigley
Keeping the Stories Behind Wines Alive With Brendan Quigley of Quigley Fine Wines 11

Brendan Quigley is the Co-owner and President of Quigley Fine Wines. Together with his wife, Christina, they are passionate oenophiles with a combined 30 years in the wine industry. They are supported and surrounded by great friends and family who share their wine obsession. Quigley Fine Wines’ portfolio is continuously growing, and it offers an array of wonderfully delicious wines that are some of the greatest ever tasted. 

Quigley Fine Wines’ mission is to discover and import wines of exceptional quality from small, family-owned wineries in France, Italy, and Spain. Their selections are offered directly to American wine consumers and fine dining establishments.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Brendan Quigley talks about importing wine and direct-to-consumer wines
  • The idea of the “behind the scenes red carpet” experience
  • Brendan gives a peek at their tasting room
  • How events help promote Quigley Fine Wines
  • Brendan discusses the expansion of Quigley’s tasting room
  • How tasting rooms act as fundraisers 
  • What currently motivates Brendan: the challenges of new expansions

In this episode with Brendan Quigley

How do you successfully tell the story of each wine and connect to your customers? Today’s guest bridges the gap between the winemaker and the wine drinker to keep the stories behind the wine alive.

What started with the mission of finding small production wines and importing them to the United States now proudly has its own tasting room. Quigley Fine Wines is pleased with its comfortable and welcoming tasting room that allows the public to savor boutique wines from Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Brendan Quigley, Co-Owner and President of Quigley Fine Wines, as he shares the beginnings of their business and how it has evolved over the years. Brendan also talks about effectively telling the stories of different labels with methods handed down through generations in family-owned vineyards.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.

Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:03

Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry with your host Drew Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 0:19

Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft Podcast. On the show I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we help the wine and craft industry scale their business through authentic content. Go to today to learn more. Today, I am super excited to talk with Brendan Quigley. Brendan’s the owner and president of Quigley Fine Wines located in San Diego. Welcome to the show, Brendan.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 0:19

Drew Thomas Hendricks here, I’m the host of the legends behind the craft podcast. On the show, I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Today’s episode is sponsored by barrels ahead, the Barrels Ahead, we help the wine and craft industry scale their business through authentic content. Go to today to learn more. Today, I am super excited to talk with Brendan Quigley. Brendan is the owner and president of Quigley Fine Wines located in San Diego. Welcome to the show, Brendan.

Brendan Quigley 0:48

Thanks a lot. I appreciate you inviting me, Drew.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 0:52

I’m happy to be on we also have Bianca Harmon joining us today. She’s our channel director for podcasts. How’s it going? Bianca?

Bianca Harmon 0:59

sound great. Drew, I’m really excited for this conversation today.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 1:02

Absolutely. So Brendan tell us, tell us a little bit give us the high level overview of Quigley Fine Wines.

Brendan Quigley 1:10

So Quigley Fine Wines, we started out as an import company. And the idea originally was, it sort of came to be because my wife and I, we had met both of us being in the wine industry, maybe 20 years ago, and we did a lot of traveling overseas, mostly France and Italy. But we you know, all over the all over Europe. And we would often go, you know, as a sponsored thing by the companies we were working for previously. But most of

Drew Thomas Hendricks 1:40

those, those are great. I I was aligned by our back in the day in this industry trips are epic.

Brendan Quigley 1:45

Yeah, they’re, I don’t know, at my age anymore, if I could actually withstand them. I don’t have the endurance the night after night, six course meal, six different wines, you know, but But it certainly was fun. But what we’ve discovered while we were there on our on various trips, was that often our favorite wines that we tasted, you know, we’d be over for two, three weeks. And the best wines we came across were the small family produced, you know, multigenerational wineries, that didn’t produce a lot of wine 5000 6000 cases a year total. But they were incredible wines. And we, you know, we’d write this was before cellphones even, we’d write down or just in the beginning of cellphones, but we’d write down the names of them, and our favorite wines, and we’d come back to the states and then see who the importer was and try to buy it. And more often than not, there was no one importer. They didn’t come into the United States. They were too small production. And they sold their entire wine portfolio, either within the country or, you know, within Europe. And so, you know, we fast forward a few years. And we had a great opportunity with an investor who was a friend and customer of the company I used to work for. And he said, Hey, let’s start a business where we bring in these small production wines because him and his wife experienced the exact same thing. In fact, they were in northern Italy, one time drinking Maroney. And he he asked the shopkeeper who was doing this and Maroney tasting. How could you do an entire tasting on an Maroney? There’s only three or 4am earnings, right. And the shopkeeper was like, pointed to a wall and there was like 50 or 60 different bottles of Moroni. And and he said, No, there’s there’s a lot you should taste these. These are the ones that don’t get exported to the United States. And so his experience was was kind of marrying my wife, Christina and I’s experience, which was the better stuff tends to stay there. And so we started Quigley Fine Wines with this mission of finding small production wines, family run sort of culturally driven wines, importing them into the United States. And then we sort of decided, we’ll figure out how to sell it. When it gets here.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 4:05

Yeah, take to get the import license. It took a

Brendan Quigley 4:09

bow the better part of a year. My wife did a lot of the legwork there between the California ABC and the Federal TTB license. Which was fun, because we knew we were starting this company. And we knew it would take nine or 10 months to get the licenses. So it gave us an opportunity to explore potential suppliers which really meant a buying trip. That wasn’t somebody else’s companies buying trip it was our own. So we really were able to sort of embrace it even more. And so about a year into it. We finally had our license. And that was back in 2000, late 2010 Oh wow. And we imported our first container of wine from Italy. And we had a warehouse and now we had you know 14,000 bottles of wine Wine. And we said, Okay, now we need to sell this. And so we thought at the time, well, we can do restaurants, we can do a little distributor, we can do a little direct to consumer, which was sort of my, my niche in the wine world was more towards the direct to consumer side. And so we started, we just started pounding and selling wine bottle by bottle is every way we could. And over 10 or 11 years, it’s sort of has morphed 12 years now, I guess, it has morphed into where we’re still most of our wines direct to the consumer. Couple of restaurant accounts here and there. But for the most part, we sell the wine direct to consumer, we sell it, you know, either at our tasting room, or at a lot of food and wine festivals, charity events, where we set up, you know, a booth in the back and pour wine for people who are sort of in our demographic, they taste the wine, I think they noticed the difference too, between what’s available often. And the mass produced kind of grocery store shelves, versus what we’re importing. And, you know, people can tell the difference. And then we try to, we try to tell the story, really, of the families that make the wine, sort of hand selling the wines by describing not just how the wine tastes, but who made it, and why their fathers and grandfathers and grandmothers made the wine and how they made the wine and the whole history and culture behind those wines. And people I think, who love wine, I’ve really gravitated towards that. It’s it’s, you know, as you know, being in the wine industry, the story behind the wine is often as interesting as the wine itself.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 6:43

Yeah, absolutely. Given that sense of place. And looking at your website and the wine club, it looks like you’d do something a little bit differently that I haven’t really seen any other importers do or you’re tying the wine club. And you’re also like, the members have a chance to visit these vineyards, which you don’t normally see. That’s talk to me about that.

Brendan Quigley 7:02

Yeah, so you know, the idea of that came about on, you know, subsequent visits after first importing the first vintage from these wineries. We’d go back and taste the new vintages with them. And the experience with these families was so authentic and just wonderful. What I like a dream Wine Experience in Tuscany or Piedmont or burgundy or Bordeaux that we thought you know, are better customers who are starting to really appreciate what we’re doing with love this experience. And so we offer it to our better customers. The regular buyers, we offer sort of a behind the scenes red carpet tasting experience with these small wineries. And it didn’t take much convincing on our part to the suppliers because they love the idea of their wine, which their fathers grandfathers great grandmother’s have been making for that many years suddenly being tasted by people in California or New York. It’s very Yeah.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 8:04

What are your wines? It boasts a 65th generation winemaker.

Brendan Quigley 8:08

Yes. Yeah. So that’s sure that’s a winery from Piedmont. That is called Mala Bahia de canali. They’re in the Romero district. And they have been on their label. It says grape growers and vintners since 1365, and I remember when I saw that I was like 1365 is the history buff that I kind of I’m kind of a history guy. I started thinking that’s before Columbus. That’s Wait, that’s before like, a lot of things that are new worlds sort of knows. And yeah, same land. Same grapes, same Winery since 1365. And she is the 65th generation making wine there. She comes every year to our tasting room and pours her wines. In fact, funny. And you know, those listening to the podcast, we did not set this up through this one right here.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 9:00

Is that is that it?

Brendan Quigley 9:02

This is the RNAs Oh, wow. I love Romero RNAs 2020. I was reading some tasting notes on it. And you know, I figured it’s it’s afternoon, right? Absolutely. But those stories are all over our portfolio. And so I’m

Bianca Harmon 9:24

sorry. No, that’s okay. So I got to ask, you know, John Caldwell.

Brendan Quigley 9:30

Yes. That’s my uncle. Come on. What a small world.

Bianca Harmon 9:36

I started. You have some wines from that vineyard?

Brendan Quigley 9:39

Yeah. JASC.

Bianca Harmon 9:41

Yeah. Yeah.

Brendan Quigley 9:43

We won’t get into the middle names. But

Bianca Harmon 9:47

you can only you can assume what that is right. Yeah.

Brendan Quigley 9:51

So I met John got it was probably about eight years ago, because I loved his wines called Bill vineyard. Yeah, the winery Be slash vendor. And I sort of pitched the idea to him of what we do with our domestic wine. So sort of a roundabout way of describing it. Because our wineries that we work with in Europe are so small production, we are typically exclusive on the imports for the whole United States, like we’re the only ones who have these wines. And so our customers really love that, you know, they love the idea that they can bring a bottle of wine to someone’s house, and you’re not going to find it in bonds or, you know, Rouse. So when we started thinking about domestic wine, and whether we wanted to get into the world of selling domestic wine, rather than just be a distributor for a winery in Napa, or Santa Barbara, we pitched the idea and I did to several winemaker, friends of mine of creating wines just for us, their fruit, their winemaker, we pay them for their time and their space and, but we make wines that are just for Quigley. And we create our own label. And so, you know, 200 cases, usually the maximum production size on things like that eight or 10 barrels. And John was John was game, you know, he, as you know, being your uncle, he grows a lot more fruit than he puts into bottles. You know, he’s

Bianca Harmon 11:14

started if you know this, I mean, it started years and years ago is as vineyards random nursery. Yeah. And he smuggled, you know, broodstock smuggle the route. Yeah, the smugglers smuggler society. But I just I noticed that because I noticed, you know, most of your wines on there and that’s what drew me to it is our you know, all imported and then I saw that you did have domestic and I went in there and I’m like, holy shit was like, You must you must be like guy because he’s not gonna partner with everybody. So

Brendan Quigley 11:47

John is a John is such a straight shooter, such an authentic guy. I love him. And so yeah, I kind of approached the idea of doing a wine with our label, but his fruit, his winemaker, that’s just ours, not identical to his wine, I go up and blend it. And it’s every bottle that we do is different than his. But it’s, it’s his fruit. It’s always his fruit. And that’s been a really successful label for us. And what we do is we actually have six other winemakers that we partner with, where same concept I like that, yeah, domestically, we have six others and seven, including John, where one winemaker will make wine for us from a specific region always from that region that that their winery is in and that will be our label for that area. So I have a good friend in Pasco Her name is baleia baleia ash, wonderful wines she does called Desperado, blinds out of Paso Robles. And she does an exclusive label for us called Lark song. And so we bought a wines under her label. If it’s if it’s from PASCO and it’s made by Valium. It’s Lark song. And we, we have one in the Anderson Valley, Mendocino, we have one up in Oregon, Willamette Valley, and we have one in Santa Barbara County, and John Caldwell’s fruit is our source for our Napa Valley wines. It still doesn’t, it’s maybe 25% of our total volume 75% is still imported. But there’s such demand, especially being in California for domestic wine that we thought let’s let’s try, let’s try our hand at selling domestic wines. But with a different idea. Still keeping it small production still keeping an exclusive and still keeping it real, real high end. But you know, as competitively priced as we possibly can.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 13:37

That’s a great thing for your portfolio. Now for the domestic producers, or are they? Do you allow them free rein with their style, so they have their house style? Are they trying to fit this kind of Quigley style of European flavor profiles,

Brendan Quigley 13:52

their style entirely, I don’t pretend to know anything about winemaking. And so other than just you know, having been in cellars for all these years, but I don’t have the background. So I didn’t want to tell them. Let’s make it this style because I wanted them to be able to take the fruit and make a line that tells a sense of place and terroir and and their style as opposed to mine or my customers what I perceive my customers style to be so the wines like the wines that we make up in Oregon, are with a fantastic winemaker Jerry Murray is his name. And Jerry’s a Pinot Noir guru, in my opinion, one of the best Pinot Noir makers on the planet. And so I’m not about to tell him how to take you know, the two tons of fruit that we buy from a vineyard that he knows well and produce a wine that I like I make it the way you think this wine should be. And so that’s that’s always the way we go.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 14:52

I love that full of full expression of place. You know, talking about winemaking you do have like the trifecta permit Not many companies can boast your importer, retailer and winemaking permit.

Brendan Quigley 15:06

Yeah, yeah, we have a California oh two license that allows us to, you know, grow grapes and produce wine. And then we have the basic importers permit as well as the wholesale retail. So,

Drew Thomas Hendricks 15:18

talk, let’s talk about retail. And let’s talk about you just launched it we just launched three years ago, right into the heart of COVID. You launched your tasting room.

Brendan Quigley 15:26

Yeah, beautiful timing. We’ve not nothing like having good timing. Right? We, we took a space that we had had as our sales office where we had a lot of our sales staff working. And I worked and COVID hit. And so they everyone started working from home. So we got in the tasting room. Got it all ready to go, like, got into what was the office space, made it into a tasting room, and we were ready to launch and couldn’t for about 15 months. You know, it was pretty frustrating walking around. This is where I am now. Yeah. And it’s this beautiful space, right in downtown. But it was empty, you know, for 15 months, just waiting for people to come. And so we opened

Bianca Harmon 16:09

to actually open up. So

Brendan Quigley 16:13

we opened up. It would have been June or July I think of 2021.

Bianca Harmon 16:21

Okay, okay, because I was there. I actually saw your space that was being developed because my girlfriend, what we walked by, and she was showing me the building, she was like, This is gonna be a new, like wine tasting room. And this was in March of 2021. So and I at the time, I thought I said, I was thinking I was trying to figure out the timeline of how soon you opened after that. So yeah,

Brendan Quigley 16:47

so March of 2021. That was about a year after everything shut down. So yeah, I was about three or four months later. Okay. 2021. So, we’re about a year and a half now we’ve been opened, I think it was July of 21 that we opened the doors to display. So about a year and a half not long.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 17:03

In hindsight, do you think it helped because we’ve had a lot of people on the show that opened up either restaurant facilities, tasting room facilities, some sort of hospitality experience right at the start of COVID. And now they’re now they finally have their back up to full speed. But I’m wondering because you see so many tasting rooms, they’re only around for a little while. Did it give me more time to like, in hindsight, do you give me more time to perfect the the business model?

Brendan Quigley 17:28

Um, yeah, I think so. I think it helped in some ways that the COVID silver lining, if you will, I wouldn’t say perfected it. You know, we’re working progress, though. But I think a couple of things. One, I think there was a sort of a backs against the wall, if we can make it through this, then then we can do anything kind of feel to it. And then also kind of a when everything opened back up again. It was like the last day of school for kids, you know, like suddenly, wine drinkers can go and taste wine again. And you can come out and socialize again. So I think I think we captured some of that momentum. But yeah, we’re still working on it. You know, we we’ve recently expanded our hours, we were only open three days a week we started now we’re open Tuesdays through Saturdays. And we’re, you know, we’re open for to nine, we’re not like a dining destination. We’re strictly like a wine tasting room. Like you find that in wine country, but in downtown San Diego.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 18:31

A couple hours. I mean, a lot of clothes like a five.

Brendan Quigley 18:35

Yeah, that’s true. We’re more evening, I guess. You know, we thought about daytime stuff. But then he was thinking, I don’t know that we’re going to get that sort of wine tourism thing that you know, Napa would like you go to Napa, or Sonoma or Santa Barbara, you wake up in the morning at your hotel, and you’re chomping at the bit to go tasting right at 10 3011 o’clock. There’s, you know, we’re a little urban. So I feel like most people would be working still. Maybe on the weekends, that would work. But no, we open the doors at four. And so people sort of think of us as the after work, go take a do a flight of wines instead of a martini or something

Bianca Harmon 19:10

like that. So do you offer like charcuterie boards or anything of that sort?

Brendan Quigley 19:15

Or? Yeah, we do. We do actually we offer we’re partners with phinisi mo cheese. I don’t know if you live in San Diego.

Bianca Harmon 19:23

Yeah, I don’t. I’m just down there a lot. My best friends live there.

Brendan Quigley 19:27

So there’s a there’s a cheese shop here. It’s actually got three locations in San Diego County. And they’re sort of like, at least in my opinion, the best cheese mongers on the market. They bring in really good cheeses from all over the world, including California and Wisconsin and any place that makes good cheese. And we partner with them. So we offer cheese plates that we our flights are five different wines. And so they create five different cheeses. And so it’s you know, you have a different cheese with each each taste of our wines and we We sell those here at the tasting room. And we’re actually just now expanding that we’re going to start offering what we’re calling the Mediterranean tapas plates which are going to be we found some really good olives, you know, those bright green olives that you see when you’re in Tuscany and you get a little, a little glass full of them. Yes, we found a great one of those. I, my wife and I did some market research tasting our way through a olives. Some almonds, like truffle almonds, some really good hummus and some dark chocolate. So it’s like I’m little Mediterranean sampler plate. And you can also do real small nibbles. It’s kind of our thing we don’t want. We don’t want to get into the you know, big plates world. No, we don’t have commercial, we have the the kitchen license for the smaller size things like that. The full commercial,

Drew Thomas Hendricks 20:47

you did you do have a series of events that you guys, how did the events help in broadcasting your name and promoting your your brand’s?

Brendan Quigley 20:55

So? Yeah, that was that was really how we built our direct to consumer base. We, we just, we found every Food and Wine Festival all over the country that we thought was going to attract the right demographic of direct to consumer customers. And, you know, we paid the registration fees, which some of them can be pretty high. And we’d have a table set up there for two three days. And I’d have my sales reps fly out. And we pour our wines and introduce our wines to people and people would fill out contact cards and we’d get their business cards and and you usually can’t take sales orders at these kinds of things. But you can kind of take potential orders like someone would say I wanted to that call me when I

Bianca Harmon 21:39

got attacked. Yeah, so did you do bottle rock.

Brendan Quigley 21:43

Never done bottle rock I’ve I’ve gotten a bottle rock as a consumer slash listener. Having fun. But we’ve been we’ve never ported bottle rock but that’s that’s an idea. We do. So we do Nantucket Food and Wine Festival, Newport Rhode Island Food and Wine Festival Aspen Food and Wine Festival in New Orleans Food and Wine Festival, the one up in Orange County, San Diego, we’ve done a lot. And it really has helped our grow our Consumer Direct to consumer base, we also partner with a pretty wide array of local charities San Diego County, Orange County charities. And when they have they’re sort of at the end of their black tie Gala. Each year, we offer a tasting, which you know, we do for free. And so it helps the charity organizations love it because they’re big donors, it’s just a perk to come in and taste a bunch of wine for free and, and we pour wine there. And that’s how we got a lot of our local direct to consumer customers. And then the third way we do it is our sales reps will work with some of their bigger customers. And they’ll fly out maybe once or twice a year and do a tasting at their country club or their yacht club or if they have a home that can accommodate a good sized group. They’ll do an in home tasting for them, where we bring, you know, some really good reserved quality wines and, and a sales rep who knows their product really well. And so that sort of that grew our customer base kind of exponentially actually, because of the connection with the original customer sort of opens the doors for everyone to trust that the wines are great, and they taste them and we go from there.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 23:27

Sure. So talk to me. So your wine club. So how many members do you have now?

Brendan Quigley 23:32

The wine club? I think we’re all somewhere in the 300 range. Wine Club, when we started the tasting room, so about a year and a half ago.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 23:43

Oh, so it’s fairly new. You didn’t you started selling direct to consumers even without a clovers?

Brendan Quigley 23:48

Yeah, we the the way we did it originally was was through our wine consultants. We call them sort of we call them wine consultants, but they’re almost like a wine personal shopper. Oh, where are they? When the new vintages come in, or a, a winery that we think is similar to something that they had tasted at an event or wherever we met them. Their sales rep will email call tax whatever and say, Hey, got a new wine in you. You enjoy the Barbaresco from this guy. Well, this is his neighbor, he makes Barolo and you’d love this. And that’s how we kind of grew our

Bianca Harmon 24:21

so that’s a steal that nice interpersonal touch with customers.

Brendan Quigley 24:28

Exactly, yeah. Yep. My sales staff is really well trained, they they know their wines and they get to know their customers very personally on not just the wine basis, but even on a just a personal social basis, but they get to know their, their palate, their price range, their frequency and they sort of dial in their their service based on on what the customer wants

Drew Thomas Hendricks 24:54

was such small allocate like with such small production wineries that you’re dealing with and when You know, 300 club members and all the consultants, you must have, like have to have allocations within your sales consultants.

Brendan Quigley 25:08

Absolutely. Well, that’s true. It’s like you’ve done this before. Yeah, there are wines that come in, where we get 600 bottles, and it’s once a year. And so I’ll do a personal allocation per sales rep. And then, you know, they’ll have eight cases. And that’s it. And, and they have to pick and choose their eight favorite customers that are going to get that call and get that text or email. And now and then we also allocate some for the tasting room also. But yeah, we, it’s very rare that I bring in more than maybe 2000 bottles of any one wine, that’s kind of about as much as we’ll bring. And a lot of them are 600 to 1200 Total bottles into the United States. So are your rights constantly

Bianca Harmon 25:59

I was just gonna say so you, you said you bring in like six to 1200? Like, sorry, your wines constantly changing them? Oh, yeah. So are they do they stay pretty consistent?

Brendan Quigley 26:11

Um, I would say, there are on average, I would say our wines, maybe six weeks, from when we release them till they’re gone. And then when they’re gone, you know, you gotta wait till the next vintage comes in 11 months later, there are some wines that sell in six hours. We’ve had, we’ve had winds like that where, you know, reserve wine from a specific vintage where everyone knew this was a really good year from a really good producer. And we got 400 bottles, and it’s gone in one day. Wow.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 26:46

That’s it. That’s a great business model. It’s really like it’s like a real hybrid of like, the way I used to run the wine store. And the way you’d run like a it’s almost a hybrid between importer and wine store. Well, of course, you have both permits. Yeah, it’s but Kermit Lynch does up in Berkeley?

Brendan Quigley 27:06

Yeah. His book was sort of, I read his book, The Adventures on the wine route. And that was the

Drew Thomas Hendricks 27:13

first wine book I read. We were in San Francisco, we’re a San Francisco retailer, at the time was the only store in San Francisco that retailers wines. Yeah, his book was where I got my start to

Brendan Quigley 27:25

It just it’s still even talking about it gives me goosebumps, some of his stories about you know, visiting these people in Burgundy and, and laoire Valley. You know, if I was a writer, I wish I wish I was I’d love to write some of my own tales, because I’ve had some interesting ones as well. But I don’t think I could ever match his is eloquent Swift.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 27:45

I spent eight years writing the newsletter for the wine store trying to imitate Him always failed, always came, like a weak version of Robert Parker and pale version of criminate. Lynch.

Brendan Quigley 27:56

Those are high bars. As good as their palates are, you know, their their pan is even sharper.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 28:04

Oh, absolutely. So your business model is so intriguing. There’s so many things I want to talk to you about, you’re on your website, you have a whole investment category. So you’re now crowdsourcing your growth, you got to talk to me about that. Because I know a lot of other people are in so.

Brendan Quigley 28:17

So my my business partner, and I decided few months ago, that we really wanted to expand the business, in certain ways, the travel, kind of Travel Concierge thing, potentially, we’ll definitely expanding this tasting room potentially opening up a second location. Expanding our portfolio, you know, there’s always wine regions that I get a chance to taste, you know, at an industry tasting or just at a nice restaurant. And I’m like, Oh, God, why don’t we have wines from Portugal? Well, the big reason is that, you know, we like to operate on a cash flow basis, we don’t like the loans, they don’t want banks sort of holding a heavy hand over. So we thought the best way to expand our business was through our own customer base and our own community. And so we’re offering 10% of the of Quigley Fine Wines, in exchange for investment. And we’ll use that investment to enhance what we have currently going on, as well as expanding to sort of new areas. And so we were using a company that, that specializes in raising money through the crowd, and will have suddenly will have, my hope is that it’s mostly our customer base. Yeah, they’re great customers, and they’ve been loyal customers all along. And to have them now as a 10%. Partner as a group, rather than just the customer to me would be would be really cool and will enhance the whole red carpet treatment when they go overseas to taste and visit our wineries. It’ll bring in new wine regions and new wineries. To expand our portfolio, it’ll make our tasting room you know, pop even more and have more exciting things. is going on and so that’s that’s kind of where we’re, we’re venturing into my business partner is really the one running with that. And so the details on it would be a good thing to him to talk about. But um, we’re Yeah, we’re launching that new campaign we started a campaign we sort of pulled back the reins on it because we wanted to perfect it a little bit and offer a little more perks to our to our customer base as opposed to just the general crowd. And we’re gonna launch again in March with with new perks, new percentage ownerships in the whole, the whole thing, and that’s gonna start engine or it is with start engine carotid, you guys come upon that versus the other ones or was that your business partner that pick the my business partner, my business partner, so I always say I had the wine background, he had his background. He’s a, he’s a brilliant guy. He was a belief, CFO, but certainly a top level financial guy with bell helicopters for many years, had his own helicopter business that he sold. And so he’s always been a wine collector and wine drinker. And so that’s how we connected but he’s the he knows the world of business. Like I know, the world of wine, I guess. And so it’s a good combination. So he found start engine and like their whole idea and their platform. And so we ran with it.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 31:18

Yes, it’s fascinating. It’s fascinating. It’s a great way to raise funds and a great way to kind of do it. Not I don’t say I want to say on the up but up but versus like tapping all your friends and family with asking for money this way. At least it’s all kind of structured, which really helps.

Brendan Quigley 31:35

Yeah, totally. And I thought I’d rather have 10% of people who know our wines or no less than 10% to, you know, Wells Fargo or some some bank loan. You know,

Drew Thomas Hendricks 31:50

you mentioned another location or you think in another location in San Diego, maybe Oceanside, perhaps

Brendan Quigley 31:54

that’s that isn’t. That’s an embryo of an idea. So we’ll have to see where that goes. I want to really get this place dialed in. You know, we’ve been starting to partner with food trucks. We’re trying to find like the right food truck partner that offers really good, like restaurant quality food that we think goes well with our wines. Yeah, trying to get regular food trucks in.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 32:16

That’d be fun. That’s Fanta I would I wish I saw more winery tasting rooms doing that. I mean, they’re every brewery has their food trucks coming right? You really don’t see the really don’t see wineries doing it as much, or wine tasting rooms.

Brendan Quigley 32:29

I agree. And I think there’s, you know, it’s a process where we’re learning as we go which wine which foods, maybe are better for our wines. I mean, I live in San Diego, I tacos three days a week, but we’ve had a few taco trucks. And you know, in the winter, when you’re drinking big, heavy reds, maybe tacos aren’t the best bearing. So we’re sort of dialing in seasonal foods as well as wine centric foods. And so if anybody’s watching this, or listening to this podcast that has a food truck reach out to me, we’d love to partner with you.

Bianca Harmon 33:01

Absolutely. Credible food trucks down in that area. So amazing. I mean, like, I mean, I’m all about the food trucks thing. I think it’s such a like, why have a restaurant these days when you can have a food truck. And

Brendan Quigley 33:17

I know and its profit margin. So our I’m in the main tasting room, we have a lower level where we have these, these windows that go floor to ceiling and they open up kind of like garage cool. Yeah, like a garage. And so the food truck and pull right onto the street. That’s right there. And then our customers can just walk down there and they can walk the food right up. And it really works well. It’s kind of seamless. Sweet. I’ll give a shout out. We had a guy bonehead burgers, who was a local food truck, just here last week and the guy’s burgers were unbelievably good. And people were psyched. I mean, like I thought people going back and having second burgers, which is, you know, that’s a statement if you’re about to if you’re about to eat your second burger. Oh,

Bianca Harmon 33:59

yeah. Yeah, so a winery I worked at did called take garage, they had garage doors that opened up to and all of their member events. It was a different food truck. And you got like your ticket and you got your food and your wine. And it was always a hit always, no matter what it was.

Brendan Quigley 34:18

Yes, we tried to. I mean, that’s it. It’s kind of a new thing. But it’s it’s getting really good. And there’s some great ones here for sure.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 34:23

It’s a great symbiotic relationship to between the two because people come looking for where that food trucks out logistics of it so it sounds like you’re parking or is it up to the food trucks to just ensure that they’re able to park in a place where people can?

Brendan Quigley 34:37

Can? Yeah, we we have we have a park? The parking situation is not perfect. I mean, there’s metered parking right outside of where are the big windows open. So that’s kind of where we go, but you know, it requires them having to feed the meters take up two spots so far. So knock on wood. So far, so good. Nope. No parking enforcement issues.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 34:58

Well, that’s good. That’s good. So I want to kind of go into the past a little bit and kind of using using your value of hindsight, in 2020, going back to your 2010 self, what would you have done differently?

Brendan Quigley 35:12

What would I have done differently, um, I probably if I, if I could do something differently, one thing I would have done was I would have established a little better relationships with some restaurants here in San Diego, prior to having all this wine on hand and sort of being forced to try to sell it as quick as we could. You know, I wish I could, during that year that we were getting our licenses, I should have just made it a mission to go to my favorite restaurants and just set up a rapport with them. Because I don’t ever see us selling to distributors, or retail shops, it just doesn’t fit because of the volumes we work in. But I think there’s you know, enough restaurants in the San Diego and maybe even Orange County area that are selling wine in the right way. And what I mean by that is, you know, they have servers who can make recommendations, not just based on name recognition on a list. But, and and if we had that going on, I think it would help just, you know, generate consistent accounts with with restaurants. So that’s something I’m going to work on. And then hopefully that with the start engine funding, we’ll be able to expand by a little more wine that we can then divert away from direct to consumer and go restaurants because I I feel like restaurants in San Diego, you’re gonna get people who taste the wine at a restaurant, and then want to get it again. And if there’s no retail for it, then that will bring them to our tasting room. So it would work. A good symbiotic relationship. Yeah,

Drew Thomas Hendricks 36:42

that’s been a business model that’s worked for a lot. And the other one was the Michael Houlihan. I don’t know if you read his book. He is the founder of Barefoot wines. He’s full Barefoot Wine. I mean, it’s it’s two different types of wines, that how he actually marketed barefoot wines is very similar. He had his whole whole chapters on where the cause marketing goes into the different charity events, pouring the wines and going to the festivals and pouring them. And then also partnering with local wines, local restaurants right next to the the where his wines were being sold. So that could be referred to

Brendan Quigley 37:17

I’ll have to check out the book. I’ve never read it. But that sounds interesting. It sounds like it’d be a good read. If you do read it. Get the audiobook,

Drew Thomas Hendricks 37:23

because they’ve got it they’ve got another thing set up where they’re doing these Hollywood produced audio books where they actually act it out. So this whole Barefoot Wine story. You have like Ed Asner playing this early chain store wine buyer and perfect cast. Everybody’s like acted out with sounds and everything. It’s super engaging. That’s a plug, I guess, given a plug to the book, but it’s it’s fascinating for anybody that deep in the industry willing to see how he grew it in a very entertaining fashion.

Brendan Quigley 37:55

That’s great. And they can you can read slash listen while you’re walking your dog or something. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 38:02

So Brian would tell me we talked about the Reverend A’s and we talked about a few other ones. What are the ones right now do you have that you’re particularly excited about?

Brendan Quigley 38:10

So you know, for me this time of year, I tend to drink the bigger boulders, red wines. And so I just got a container delivery in it arrived into my warehouse on Monday, actually. And it’s Tuscan and it’s Piedmont. And so I’m sipping on a Piedmont white here, but one of our producers from Tuscany is to me just like the the quintessential type of winery that I want to work with. It’s it’s in multiple Ciano and so he produced his Vino nobilo at Montepulciano rosto to multiple Ciano and reserve at a multiple Gianna, and it’s called Cantine inocente and Vittorio inocent day he’s still the winemaker he’s 84 years old. His son tomato is taking over the reins, but apparently, he’s not. Vittorio is not quite willing to give it up yet after. I think he’s in a 62nd or 63rd vintage of making wine. His father and his grandfather made wine, but it’s all tiny production. His whole winery is less than 50,000 bottles. And it’s just the most authentic Tuscan wines you can you can find I always I joke with my sales staff sometimes I say if people say they like old world wine, get them some canteen inocente and then we’ll know if they really like Old World wines. There’s, there’s no there’s very little new oak used it’s cask and it’s you know, rustic dry tannins. Some of the wines will take seven or eight years salary before you even really want to go near them. But when they do hit that, that mark and that stride, they’re, they’re special. And so I’m into those kinds of wines. So Seeing the winter, even in San Diego where we get a little bit of winter here in Carlsbad. So, you know, the last few weeks, it’s like, alright, well, let’s, let’s make some casseroles and let’s, you know,

Drew Thomas Hendricks 40:10

really putting this like in like January 19 is when we’re recording this and we’re just coming out of, I think 19 days of solid rain,

Brendan Quigley 40:17

pretty much. And temperatures for us, San Diego, you know, high 50s means like freezing, like I’m double flannels. And so I’m into I’m into that guy’s wines right now from Tuscany. And, you know, I’m, I’m excited about our next container coming in, which will be in the spring for are coming in in March from Spain. Oh, we’ll have some. Yeah, we’ll have some great wines from pre Iraq, as well as some Ribera del Duero wines, but then also out on the coasts and Alboreto and wines from Molossia to some Godello. And min Sia. So, I love Spanish wines I think they are made to Yeah, I think they represent such good value, price point value, but also just, you know, really not as maybe old worldy as as, say burgundy or Piedmont or Tuscany. So I think they, for our customers who are used to drink in California wine or New World wines, they’re a really good bridge wine into exile because Spanish wines tend to be a little ripe for a little softer, maybe some of them on the palate. So I’m excited about that Spanish wines coming in.

Bianca Harmon 41:25

It’s really interesting when you talk about speaking of California wine and somebody that’s worked in tasting rooms for a long time, people there’s such a big difference between drinking California wines and drinking European or Italian style wines. And in a lot of people can’t just like, jump in to the Italian European wines. If you’ve been drinking California wines there, there’s just such a vast difference. Yeah. And getting people I remember like that one of the first times, I mean somebody to start drinking Italian wine and they’ve been drinking California cabs or California pinos or some, you know, block, and now they’re drinking these Italian wines. And they’re like, I don’t like this. And I’m like, give it a bit like, a lot of them. Some of them you have to have a spoon, you know, even to just get them going or into it, you know, but it’s like, I don’t like this. This is no like, it’s, it’s so different. And you really have to work your way. Some people you just really have to work your way into it.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 42:22

It’s a palate adjustment with the acidity. Yeah,

Brendan Quigley 42:24

you’re Big John. Big time, I always think yes, the first recommendation is always had them with food. Especially

Bianca Harmon 42:33

especially if and I’m saying your entry into

Drew Thomas Hendricks 42:35

wine has been through like Apothic red and all the other mega purple type wines out there. You’re gonna have a hard time transitioning into into Italian wines and French Yeah, and like go

Bianca Harmon 42:45

home and make a nice big pot of spaghetti and open the slide. Now tell me what you think about it, you know?

Brendan Quigley 42:52

Yeah. And, you know, I’ve also, I’ve noticed that with friends of mine who are, you know, wine lovers or wine lovers, and I don’t I don’t I certainly don’t like to sort of come from a high horse position. I got a little fly flying around. But, you know, if they love California wine, that’s great. I love drinking California wine too. But I when they come over, we’ll usually start with you know, we’ll transition. So that way, your palate your mouth kind of gets used to wine if the first wine you’re drinking is cantina inocent de Tuscan Sangiovese. Yeah. And you’re not used to that and you’re used to drinking Zinn’s from paso, your whole, your whole face my turn inside out from the, from the tan. Yeah. But if you if you gradually go into it with some other wines first get your palate sort of loosened up and then have the right food. You know, it’s doable, but I think you’re right, Bianca. It’s a process. It’s not always right away. It might take a little while. Yeah.

Bianca Harmon 43:50

No, but that’s where I like that you’ve got this Spanish style, because you’re you’re 100% Right. It’s kind of this like, in between of leading you from California getting you into that more European style, but not so drastically, right.

Brendan Quigley 44:07

Yeah, it’s a bridge. Good bridge. California, right. Just bang.

Bianca Harmon 44:12

Yeah, I love it.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 44:14

Portugal will also be a good segue with their styles. Yeah, definitely. So Brendan is we’re kind of wrapping down, I always kind of asked, like, what gets you up in the morning? And how do you stay motivated from 10 years, 10 years, 13 years into Quigley Fine Wines.

Brendan Quigley 44:30

So what gets me motivated every morning is I feel like there’s always a new challenge. And this tasting room is sort of the new baby for us. It’s only a year and a half old. And now the start engine idea is really kind of motivating me to get up every morning and make it happen so that we can expand our portfolio and that and you know a lot a lot of a lot of what I do isn’t unfortunately isn’t wine always related because I have a sales staff and a warehouse staff and an admin staff you know, it’s 14 or 15 employees, so just you know, making sure that they are motivated and happy. And feeling like they work in a in a in a cool for a cool company that, that appreciates them. And so there’s always personal issues that need to be either dealt with or, you know, rewarded or, or whatever it is. So it’s like me, my, my own thing is is is the new toy though tasting room. But every day I come in and I have to make sure that everyone is, you know, operating on all cylinders. And so that’s that’s kind of, that’s what gets me here earlier. And what wakes me up though is is the tasting room and the idea of expanding our portfolio.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 45:43

Yes, seeing your vision become a reality. So Brendan, where can people find out more about you and Quigley Fine Wines? Join the club. Yeah, you

Brendan Quigley 45:51

go to the website, and you’ll see our whole website, you can browse our portfolio. And then if you’re ever in San Diego, the best way to learn about us is to come on into the tasting room. And so that’s a fourth and cedar. So we’re downtown but we’re not in like the crazy mayhem of the Gaslamp district downtown. We’re more uptown we’re almost into the what they call bankers Hill

Drew Thomas Hendricks 46:18

areas thinking you’re right by bankers Hill.

Brendan Quigley 46:21

Yeah, we’re actually diagonally across. I’m looking at it right now from the law school. There’s a cow Western law school. I know exactly what they’re really close to the freeway to if you exit, Second Avenue and Front Street and you go up towards Second Avenue. Two blocks up is fourth. We’re right on the corner of fourth and cedar. And so great sushi place right by there is a zucchini, zucchini.

Bianca Harmon 46:47

Oh my god. It’s so good.

Brendan Quigley 46:50

So good. We’ve done we’ve actually done winemaker dinners there when our winemaker from our sauce comes in. So it’s all white wines, a lot of Pinot greys and Rieslings and diverse demeanors. And that wine with the sushi from azuki is a pretty special.

Bianca Harmon 47:06

Like I’m pretty sure that bomb sushi restaurant is right next to

Brendan Quigley 47:10

you know they’re not open for lunch. They used to be open to lunch every day and now they’re only open I think Thursday Friday for lunch, which is kind of a good thing because I used to walk up there with a bottle of Riesling and like find myself and like three bottle and you know not good for the waistline.

Bianca Harmon 47:24

There goes the history there got the rest of the day there Right.

Brendan Quigley 47:27

Yeah, totally.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 47:30

Let’s definitely get next time and down in San Diego. I got to stop by Yeah, there as much as I used to. And I feel bad because I grew up in Point Loma. My parents are still down there. But you get stuck in this North County like cycle.

Brendan Quigley 47:43

Yeah, come on in, you know. And when the Padres season starts, you exit the freeway at Second Avenue Front Street, and you can kind of zip right over to our place and instead of doing a pregame pitcher of beer, you can do a pregame flight of wines and then Padres game.

Drew Thomas Hendricks 47:57

Yeah, that sounds good. Sounds good. Well, Brendan, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been a real treat.

Brendan Quigley 48:03

Thank you Drew. I really appreciate the invite. And thank you, Bianca and you guys have a great day. You too. Cheers.

Outro 48:18 

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