The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

IWM’s Secret Wine Cellar

The IWM difference–our temperature-controlled cellar and our cellarmen

Most IWM clients have never visited our cellar. They just know that their wine magically arrives in the dumbwaiter, gets tenderly wrapped by a sales associate, placed into a happy maroon box, and that’s it. But below the wooden floor of the IWM showroom sits a magical wonderland of wine and cellarmen. This is their story.

This picture shows your hypothetical bottle of Barolo. You want to buy it because it does look lovely on the shelf and you know it’ll be tasty; however, you don’t get this actual bottle of Barolo. Yours comes from the cellar, and your IWM sales associate sends the order downstairs, where it is received by one of several workers.
The workers downstairs in the cellar work really hard.  They don’t just fetch your bottle of wine (and mine); they also catalog, unpack, pack up, organize and otherwise keep the warren of the cellar in manageable order. It’s tight and cold in the cellar.  Shelves are crammed with bottles, making the space seem smaller than it is. The fans are loud and there are many, many boxes.

The boxes are, frankly, drool inspiring. If you look at this picture of Gaja and Sassicaia crates and don’t feel lust in your heart, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.

Likewise if this picture of shelves of Dal Forno don’t make you feel a bit like snatching and running..

The best part of the IWM cellar–other than the proximity of that much wine–is the link between the cellar and the store: the dumbwaiter. There’s a childlike wonder inherent to dumbwaiters, a kind of now-you-don’t-see it/now-you-do household prestidigitation. I also love that the IWM dumbwaiter is crafted from an Ornellaia box. It’s perfect that wine arrives in the casing of one of the most enchanting Super-Tuscan wines. Look down the shaft of the dumbwaiter and seeing the wine and the workers. It’s not quite seeing the White Rabbit or the Keebler elves, but it’s magical all the same.

Perry Porricelli

Our Soulful Leader

For the last two weeks, we have been training the new members of our Wine Portfolio Management team, and yesterday they had an opportunity to listen to Perry Porricelli, IWM’s President. Perry hails from the Bronx, which may account for his very genuine quality that permeates everything he does. He is street smart, very savvy and fiercely passionate about the business he has helped to create, and he also champions our esoteric portfolio.

Perry often speaks in short, choppy sentences. He is to the point and direct. However, as he began to speak about IWM, his manner entirely changes. His sentences become longer, more elegant. His tone becomes warmer and softer. His passion swells as he describes the wines we represent, and in yesterday’s meeting, by the time he has talked about the nature of his relationships with his clients there was reverence in his voice. He—and the room—glowed with energy.

Perry explained to the team that we have not only taken the road less travelled, but we have blazed our own path. And yes, that has made all the difference.

“The economic strife in 2009 posed considerable challenges to all industries, especially ours,” he said, “Our partners decided to stay true to our core values.   Where others were swimming to the bottom, we would swim to the top.” Perry talked about the choices IWM had made in the past year: we hired more experienced Senior Wine Portfolio Managers, and we brought in Christy Canterbury, a Master of Wine candidate, to head our acquisition team.  With unfettered pride Perry shared that we had endured the challenges of our industry; we had bucked popular trends; and the business had thrived because of the dedication of our team.

Perry concluded the discussion by talking about his favorite moments. He said, “There are times I have recommended a wine that the client absolutely did not understand. Five years later they said, ‘I drank that bottle and it had become everything you said it would be.  It was spectacular.’” Perry smiled. It was the look of joy from knowing he had perfectly served his client.

And that look embodies why IWM is a very special place to work.