Preston-Layne & Partners evolution has its beginnings in one simple, fundamental certainty: My love of wine.
I wasn't always a wine lover. My love and fascination with wine goes back to a date I had in 1992. The young lady said, “We should have wine with dinner,” and I could not believe how good it was. Up to that point, I was a beer person. Cheap, domestic, uninteresting beer. But one bottle of wine and I was intrigued. And it kept going.
I married my lovely bride, DeeDee in 1994, and we honeymooned in Napa. Visiting wineries and tasting a variety of wines drew me in even further, and I began to learn everything I could about wines and winemaking.
Not long after, I became a moderator on a wine geek board in the CompuServe community. And that’s where things really got going.
Around 1998, I met a winemaker on that CompuServe board. His name was Bill Russell, whose family owns Westport Rivers Vineyards and Winery in Westport, Mass.. Bill saw my name on the boards as VPotts/RI and inquired, “What’s RI?,” and I explained to him that I was from “Rhode Island.” We started talking about the potential of working together. In March of 2000, I left Corporate America and took my first job in the wine business, working for Bill and his family as Vice President of Marketing and Sales.
In the summer of 2003, I decided to branch out on my own. That’s where Preston-Layne & Partners, Inc. was born. After consulting with a number of buyers and brand managers at distributors in the Northeast, they all convinced me that California and Europe are a long way from Boston and New York and there was no shortage of these producers that could use some help. With that and a little help from a couple of them, we got started. The name of the company, “Preston-Layne” comes from my middle name and my wife’s middle name. “Partners” comes from the fact that we consider our clients and customers true partners in building the brands we are so fortunate to represent.
We started managing in four states: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut. By 2004, we were national. There were so many wineries that knew they could use the expertise we bring to the table, not just in our network in the North East but also in our ability to strategize, network and build… anywhere.
Today, our core principle and objective is to build brands that both suppliers and their customers can count on for the future. We have a “humble servant” philosophy in our DNA that believes the best way we can help ourselves is to help as many people around us as we can.
As I have grown this business and added importing to our core functions, I’m reminded daily why we do what we do: We love people, wine and all things centered around it.