with a few clicks through these pages you’ll see our story: small family farms, natural wines, evocative flavors, memorable personalities and us, We are doing this because it is fun. We don’t have an outsized view of our role in the universe. We didn’t make these wines, and in spite of our fervent attachment to them we remain aware that our role is to provide a bridge for information (and a boat for wine) from small farms in Europe to you. Let us know how we can be useful, increase understanding and enjoyment. Your ideas make our lives better: a big part of the fun of being Piedmont Wine Imports is discussion with interested parties looking to buy and sell and enjoy cool wine. Keep in touch and thanks!
I started Piedmont Wine Imports in 2012, to bring small farm organic European wines to America. After 13 fun-filled years in independent wine shops, I wanted to get out into the countryside, to find wine that would slightly increase the quality of what was available in America.
There are still finds! As years have passed we’ve traveled more miles than I maybe anticipated at the beginning of this dream job. Maybe I just don’t like a crowd. Leaving the trade shows and finding the one-lane gravel roads up to some isolated hillside farm, remote enough to hear nature surround you from the moment you turn off the car, this became my day at the office. It feels right. To meet grandparents and parents and pets, to see livestock and compost and tentative steps toward future plans, this approach brings us a better understanding of what we are selling to our customers. We become partners in the lives and dreams of the farmers we represent. As their spokespeople in America, this small slice of understanding makes it easier to do our real jobs, to be their advocate. It also builds friendships: we don’t work with jerks! Or generally speaking, middlemen. We prefer farmers, characters, funny, hardworking, inquisitive, real humans.
It’s all very personal at this stage. When it comes to the wines we import, it’s my goal to make zero compromises. Piedmont Wine Imports can skip mediocrity and collect wines we’d share with our friends and family, made by farmers who we’d invite to dinner.
I love how Piedmont Wine Imports changes. Every year our mission statement moves a little. It feels like glacial change. Scrutinizing, tasting, looking at the horizon and discerning where we best fit on the wine map: today we have a small team of smart wine professionals tinkering with what Piedmont Wine Imports is. It brings me optimism, also makes me feel a sense of urgency. I have to be sharper, more aware of our terrain to remain a relevant part of what we do. The people I work with give me freedom, they keep it from feeling like work.
Dani Copeland is the most generous and hard-working colleague you could ever hope to find in your office. Always first to arrive, often with cheese made on her farm, she brings a can-do attitude, smile, and lifetime of restaurant/food production experience to our workspace. She creates the bonds that make us a working unit and not just a disparate group of individuals. Her design sense, infinite patience with bureaucracy, and willingness to scale mountains of wine to create a useable warehouse in times of chaos make Dani essential to Piedmont Wine Imports. She has years of experience within our company, and her wide-ranging abilities mean that Dani designs and prints portfolios, keeps our outgoing delivery logistics viable, moves tons of wine around, and still will sometimes ferry an urgent vanload of wine into the mountains, or to the edge of the ocean.
She’s a Jewish vegetarian farmer from Iowa who has worked in restaurants from New York to Las Vegas. Her hobbies include throwing her personal-and-growing goat herd over split rail fences, sometimes running a farm-to-curb food truck and catering business, and giving three beautiful children an idyllic childhood in rural Orange County. I’m sure she has been justifiably mad at me every other day for the last three years, but has yet to show it.
Emma Jane Richardson
Emma started this job several years before there was a company, washing glasses, carrying cases, and doing everything in a retail precursor to Piedmont Wine Imports. She was 17. By the time she finished college with degrees in fermentation science and sustainable agriculture there was no doubt that Emma Jane was an essential part of our future. She has seen many of our farms as a vital part of expeditionary teams, roaming around Sicily, Piemonte, Liguria, Lazio, and Tuscany to find future wine. She is a decade ahead of any twenty-something I’ve encountered in developing the skills and knowledge for a lifetime in the wine trade. True to form Emma Jane does everything: sales, deliveries, warehouse work, she is the collator of our technical data, most importantly she brings a singular, distinct, and honest perspective to our work. She is supernaturally strong and hardworking. In twenty years she’ll have taken over our world/maybe the whole world.
Her hobbies include hiking, travel, collecting bones, fermenting things, making cheese (more a job than a hobby) and reminding us all how old we are. She’s also the best bartender in our biz.
Enrico’s job interview was at a natural wine bar in Castiglione di Sicilia, Etna. I met him because a close friend described him as “the hardest working (man) I’ve ever worked with.” Good recommendation! With roots in Sicily and Venice, Boarati brings a necessary perspective to our group. It is important to me to find wines that grow in some way the work we have done to this stage, and that increase our understanding and excitement for how people ferment grapes. There are still good wines to find out there in the vastness of small estate Italian winemaking. There are people to meet and places whose wines add something to the conversation we can have about handmade Italian wine. In the years ahead Enrico will bring us closer to the next discoveries. He is also teaching us Italian swear words and double-entendres, while laughing discreetly at our pronunciation of regional place-names and food products.
It is hard to describe the feeling of someone coming back to a work partnership. My work life is farcically overpopulated with talented former colleagues. I gleaned the necessary skills and knowledge to make a living in wine by watching the professionals around me, attempting to mimic their good habits. Even among these overachievers, Kate stands out. The year we worked together as co-managers in a small retail shop was hugely instructional, and a little humbling.
Kate is a natural team leader. She is a wine professional, a barista who can also make the best chicken stock you’ve ever tasted, she is a secret bookkeeper (we won’t tell anyone!) who is way better at soccer than you are. I’m in awe of her, the all-roundedness of her ability is motivating. Nobody works harder. She is a true peer whose opinion on wine and the wine marketplace is invaluable to our growing business.
I’m going to describe Kate as a NC native. She can correct me.
Aubrey Dea Zinaich is a local restauranteur, Sommelier and Kundalini yoga teacher who is passionate about helping all people find their inner truth. Her special interests include mantra, moon cycles, manifesting, sound current, Kundalini & Buddhist meditation. Aubrey is inspired by the works of Thich Nhat Hanh and Guru Nanak. She enjoys spending time connecting with like-minded people in her community & working toward creating a more tolerant and open environment where all people can come together to have a voice. Aubrey serves her local community by sitting on the board of Discover Durham and also the board of Liberty Arts.
She believes that “Happiness is our Birthright” as taught by Yogi Bhajan.
Aubrey is our healthy living coach, sales mentor, and resident Francophone cheese lover. Her role in our universe is continually expanding.
Jeff gave shape and beautiful content to many sections of our website. While not an official member of the team, he is a long-term writing collaborator, food-and-wine font of knowledge, and regular travel companion. He is the Ian Stewart to our band. His hobbies include making music, photographing vines and wineries, and not being beholden to the corporate behemoths that besmirch the virtue of the wine trade.