In what part of town do you live?
The Kendall/Snapper Creek area. We’ve been here since 2013. Originally – I’m from Miami – the Coral Gables, Coconut Grove area.
Would you tell us a little about yourself?
My wife and I have three kids. Our oldest daughter is nine. My middle daughter is three and my youngest son is a year and a half. We’ve been married going on 14 years now.
How did you meet?
I used to do courier deliveries and pick up. She used to work at the front of a place that I would frequent often, picking up things. One thing led to another, and I asked her out.
I know that you have a family business, would you share about what you are doing now?
Sure. It’s my younger brother, his wife, my mom, my wife and me. We have a natural wine company called Primitive Selections. My wife works from home. Especially now, with our oldest doing virtual learning. My wife helps with inventory and the books. My brother is a graphic designer, and is responsible for the social media and design aspect of the company. My mother and I do the wine tastings and talk with our distributors. I would say my mom would be the one in charge, but for the most part we easily collaborate with each other.
When did you start the business?
We started at the beginning of last year and officially opened in November. We started when the pandemic hit, so things like licensing took a little bit longer than expected. We started changing the concept. At first, we wanted just an online shop and we were going to ship throughout Florida. We pivoted and opened the warehouse for curbside pickups and walk-ins on Saturdays.
How did your family decide on a wine business?
My mom and I took wine courses years ago and it’s always been a passion of ours. Our ancestors are from Spain and wine has been in our family for generations. I saw the way the world and the country were shifting more organic and went down that wine rabbit hole and started discussing the idea with my mom. There was a natural wine fair in November of 2019 in Miami. We went and met with a lot of producers from all over the world and said ‘let’s try this out!’
What was it at the fair that convinced you to ‘try it out?’
I liked the fact that in natural wine you’re meeting the producers, there’s a family behind the wine. They are not big companies managing insane amounts of commercialized wines with a bunch of different labels. It’s a lot more enjoyable knowing where the wine came from. And it’s from a family that’s just like yours, making really great clean and natural products.
What kind of licensing issues did COVID create?
We passed our inspection and submitted all our paperwork and everything online instead of the normal inspection with someone coming to the shop. This way seems easier but it was delayed because there were less people handling requests.
When a customer walks in, do they know what they are looking for?
People will ask for regular grapes like your Chardonnays or Cabernets Sauvignons. We have those, but one of the interesting things about natural wine is that you have a lot of different grape varietals that are only grown in that specific region of the world. There something interesting about that and explaining it to new customers. It’s saying, ‘this has a lot of similarities of what you’re looking for, but it’s a little bit better.’
Are you drinking anything while we talk?
Not right now, but I had a very awesome orange wine last night from Chile, called Vox. Orange wine is made from a white grape crushed on its juice, but left with its own skins. It could be two days, it could be a week, or two months. It creates a very structured white wine. So you’re practically making a white wine how red wines are made.
What’s the most fun part about this business for you?
I would have to say it’s two things. Our distributors are awesome. They’re just super down to earth people that we can really hang out with. They are humble, friendly, willing to lend a hand or answer any question. The other aspect is talking to customers and sharing about what’s different.
You’re operating of a warehouse like us. How are you getting people to the store?
We’re getting the word out through social media and posting nonstop. People come in and spread the word as well. We never thought we’d be opening up for walk-in customers and it’s actually been a great aspect of the business. I’ve heard from a lot of people that businesses out of warehouses are a new trend.
You found our warehouse last weekend, how did you find us?
Two of our really good customers have mentioned you guys. One day I started looking you up and then we decided to drive over and check it out. I think it’s really cool that another company is doing really good stuff and putting out a great product from a warehouse. I liked it more because of that. When we got there, it was really cool, you are super detailed in explaining everything. We got two rainbows and some turmeric shots. We really look forward to going back.
Are there other businesses nearby that we should know about?
Right in our same warehouse, a few doors down is an insanely great barbecue place called Hate Monday’s Tavern. Their stuff is amazing – from briskets to Tomahawk steaks and smoked salmon. He has a big smoker right outside the front door. They come by and we’ll do some wine tastings with them as well. I’m also a huge microbrewery beer fan. There’s a great local warehouse brewery called Unseen Creatures. I love their styles, because they’re very old school. They have a lot of farmhouse Saisons and lagers and then their IPAs are super delicious and clean.
Any favorite restaurants?
The Eating House in Coral Gables is really good.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
I’d say now you guys for sure. And the two others I just mentioned. Definitely try them out.
What for you is a worthy splurge?
I would say some wine and amazing standout beers. I’m kind of simple in that manner.
Are there any community events or philanthropic groups that are important to you and your family that you might like to promote or share?
We donate to the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Is there a pitch about your business that you would like to share?
We’re called Primitive Selections. We’re open Saturdays for walk in 11-4, and Wednesday and Thursday from 4-7 for curbside pick up. Natural wines are only 1 to 2% of all global wine sales. There is life inside natural wine. The grapes are hand harvested. They use native yeast. A lot of farms are bio-dynamic, there’s a lot of animals foraging and they are flowers growing in between vines. You can taste all of that in the bottle.
Is there a question you would like to ask?
(CE) How long have you guys been open at your warehouse?
(W+A) It has been our commercial kitchen for two years, but when COVID hit and the farmers markets were closed in March, we opened the kitchen for drive through.
(CE) Do you like it?
(W+A) We love it. Being in a warehouse feels more creative than a retail store. And the drive through is like having two great days of seeing your friends in 5 minute increments all day long. It’s very fun.
(CE) That’s awesome. I think that’s what it is all about. We’re selling wine of course, but I think getting to know our customers is more important. You guys are the same way.