Photography by Ekaterina Kurilovich
Instagram: @clubvivanova Site: www.mittonwines.com
Luxury Life International finds out why they call Bradley Mitton The Wine Man. Entering the lion’s den, Bradley has successfully managed to distribute his New World wine selection to some of the best gastronomical locations across the Côte d’Azur and Monaco, and we find out how and why he took on this challenge.
Before working in the wine industry, you worked in restaurants. How did you start in gastronomy? I worked my way up the culinary ladder and I worked hard; kitchen work is tough with lots of pressure and it all happened very fast. By 25, I had my own restaurant in Manila. I was head-hunted by different restaurant owners across Asia who saw potential in my work-ethic and they gave me great opportunities to develop in a creative way. I used them all as stepping stones to build my career.
What led you to cross-over from gastronomy to wine distribution?
I had an opportunity in South Korea to operate a restaurant group and also to develop the wine distribution channel for my employer, so I started developing wine promotional programs at his restaurants. It was exciting as the region imported most of their wines from Australia, and the winemakers would visit and we could present and promote winemaker dinners and events. After ten years in Asia, I decided a return to Europe was a good idea, and I took a job offer in Berlin.
Why New World wines? European restaurants mainly list European wines. I noticed a trend where people wanted to drink something they understood, that tasted round and mouth-filling and was not too complicated. European wines can be difficult to understand, and choosing a wine can be intimidating; the New World wines take all of this fear away and offer what is on the label. It’s very simple and they’ve produced huge competition for the Old World.
How do you make yourself competitive against other wine importers and distributors?
We keep costs low and overheads minimal. We ship direct from the winery to four warehouses across Europe (Berlin, Warsaw, Prague and Monaco). We ship direct to the clients, we have exclusivity on all the brands and we don’t stock the wines in shops or online, the restaurants have exclusivity in the market. Private clients can buy from us, but they have to call us direct. You have a number of excellent clients.
Where in fact do you sell? We sell mainly to five-star hotels and restaurants for example the Hyatt group, Ritz Carlton and Fairmont, private hotels with Michelin-star restaurants, SBM in Monaco and we do lots of business with Asian restaurants in Germany that are open-minded when it comes to food and wine pairing.
How do you manage successfully to sell New World wines in Old World wine regions, and what do the local French and German
professionals think? Many people can’t understand how we’ve managed this. We build relationships, we care about what we import and we deal with the sommeliers and the restaurateurs on a professional level, understanding what they want, and they know ultimately what their clients want. We support with events with our wine club, Club Vivanova, and this helps us become partners with the outlets.
How do you keep going? You seem to be everywhere at once and have a strong reputation on the French Riviera; how do you do it? Reputation is everything. I am driven, highly ambitious and really enjoy keeping my clients and club members happy. Social media works wonders for us, and this is all about brand growth and being in the right places, with the right people, offering quality and value and making people feel content so they either want to re-buy your products or return to our events. You win some deals, and you lose some deals, but the key is to win the war and to be on top at the end of it all. There are lots of sacrifices to make for success and I make them, and I succeed. That in itself is what keeps me going.
Any advice for a novice New World wine drinker? Look for something cool-climate, the most elegant wines come from cooler climates, like Germany, Burgundy, Champagne. It’s the same in the New World; look at Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, Southern Marlborough and then search for the smaller wineries. They might cost a little more than the commercial wines but they are always worth it.