Natural Merchants recently joined forces with Opici Family Distributing to service organic wine customers in NY, NJ and CT. This came after a long and successful run of nearly 15 years with independent wholesaler Organic Vintages. Founded in 1988 by Steve Frenkel, Organic Vintages was acquired on February 1, 2020 by Opici. Steve enters into a well-deserved retirement after more than three decades of bringing organic wines to the East Coast.
“Steve’s forward-thinking approach to the wine industry has resulted in a portfolio of premium wines that specialize in natural, organic, biodynamic, no sulfites added, vegan, fair trade and sugar free selections,” said Opici President, Dina Opici. “As our industry evolves, we need to constantly look to stay ahead of the trends, and we feel the addition of the Organic Vintages portfolio gives us a strong advantage in the market as we bring the best positioned organic portfolio to our customers in a segment that is growing at 19%.”
With the acquisition, Opici Family Distributing significantly ramped up their organic wine division, adding more than 70 SKUs to their portfolio, including 36 organic and Biodynamic wines from the Natural Merchants catalog.
As part of the acquisition, a launch presentation was held on January 31 in front of more than 200 Opici sales representatives from every state. We were joined by representatives from our winery partners Cantina Pizzolato from Italy, Vina Koyle from Chile, Inkarri from Argentina, Granza from Spain, Maison Raymond from Bordeaux and Domain Gioulis from Greece. Each presented their wines to the sales teams for tasting after the presentation, then hit the streets with Opici sales reps throughout NJ, NY and CT the following week.
The markets truly showed a healthy appetite for organic and Biodynamic wines. In the first three days of the East Coast blitz alone, Opici sold more than 400 cases of wine from their new Organic Vintages portfolio to retailers and restaurants throughout the area. And the orders keep flowing as the Big Apple and beyond embraces organic and Biodynamic wine as never before.
History of Organic Vintages
As one of the first wine wholesalers in the nation dedicated to selling only certified organically grown and produced-wines, Steve Frenkel was truly a pioneer. “With our wines, it’s not what you don’t get (the pesticides, sulfites, and other chemicals), but the fine wine that you do.” In the early days, Steve worked without an office, often selling his organic wines from U.S. producers Frey and Badger Mountain out of the trunk of his car, one customer at a time. He worked relentlessly to call on every retailer and restaurant in NY, NJ and CT, and built a solid base of organic wine fans throughout his more than 30 years in the market. The Natural Merchants portfolio was picked up by Organic Vintages in 2006. In 2008, Steve expanded his business in a big way by hiring sales manager Mike Brennan to hit the streets of NJ and NY. With Mike’s never-ending enthusiasm and dedication to organic wines, Organic Vintages and the Natural Merchants’ business burgeoned. Even prior to the Opici acquisition, New York/New Jersey was one of the top two markets for Natural Merchants. Mike continues on with Opici to watch over the Organic Vintages portfolio.
“We are forever grateful to Steve Frenkel for his early vision and outstanding work to bring organic wines to the greater NY market. His pioneering efforts in the organic wine movement built this important market step by step over the years, setting the stage for a successful major launch of our wines into this important metropolitan area with Opici Family Distributing.” Ed Field, Owner of Natural Merchants
With a well-honed sales force machine and a strong commitment to increasing their green footprint, Opici is in the prime position to help Natural Merchants sell organic wines far and wide across these incredible East Coast states. The opportunity seems endless, and the future’s so bright we’ve got to wear “green” shades.