ON PRIOR EXPERIENCE
Tell us a little
about yourself and how you ended
This is my my 21
in the wine and spirits industry, so from
a professional standpoint, this is virtually
all I’ve done. I was a Gallo recruit out of
Arizona State and got my start in South-
ern California, working for the winery.
Typically at Gallo, they are very proac-
tive about moving you around, so I had
every job imaginable within a short time
frame. At the ripe old age of 25, they
then moved me to Las Vegas where as
general manager, I helped launch a new
wholesaler for them.
From Gallo, I moved into Schieffelin
& Somerset, one of the great companies
that we know today as Moët Hennessy
USA. At Schieffelin, I worked primarily
out of Southern California, but ultimately
returned to Las Vegas for the second
time, working as a sales and market-
ing manager for the Mountain region.
When Diageo & MHUSA reformulated
their business model, I was selected to
go inside Southern Wine & Spirits to run
the dedicated Diageo/Moët business for
Nevada. However, because of the fran-
chise laws in Nevada, that dedicated di-
vision never actually came to fruition, yet
I remained with Southern Wine & Spirits
of Nevada and became vice president
for spirits, on-premise. After a few years,
I got the call from Brad Vassar in Miami
encouraging me to take a little leap of
faith and become the senior vice presi-
dent for wine in Nevada. It was a sig-
nificant jump. I rebuilt our wine divisions
from the bottom up, redesigning the
entire wine book. After five years, I then
transitioned to general sales manager
for spirits in Nevada, which I held for one
year just prior to this move to New York.
How do you think your Vegas expe-
rience will translate here to New York?
There are a lot of similarities be-
tween Las Vegas and New York. First of
all, if there is a great restaurant in New
York, there is a fairly good chance that
restaurant exists in Las Vegas. Con-
versely, a lot of the night clubs from
Vegas are also in New York. From a
wine perspective specifically, Las Vegas
is very comparable to New York. Many
people don’t realize that Las Vegas is the
home of the master sommelier. Not sure
of the exact count, but it’s something like
23 of the 100 or so master sommeliers
that live in the U.S. are based in Las Ve-
gas. At any given time, Southern Wine &
Spirits in Nevada employed five of those.
The interaction, not just with the master
sommeliers, but with the entire somme-
lier community is a very big deal in Las
Vegas. Look at the Bellagio, they actually
advertise in Wine Spectator. I think they
have five master somms under one roof.
What do you gain from having
those relationships with the master
somms as customers?
I’ve never been a salesman who thinks
I’m going to teach a master sommelier
something. I expect a master sommelier
to teach us about wine, and I expect us
to figure out how we can interact with their
business. It’s about making both busi-
nesses great. The master somms actual-
ly provide a value to our people. But there
are things we can do, whether it’s com-
municating best practices from other ac-
counts, or describing how certain wines
can integrate into an MS program.
I think a lot of people are intimidated
when dealing with a master sommelier.
It’s actually the wrong way. Most of them
are not what you would call your typical
wine snob. Most of them are really un-
derstanding of all levels of wine and they
get that not every customer is coming in
looking for a great Burgundy. There are
so many neat avenues, profiles and price
points we can put people in. I think that’s
one of the coolest things, figuring out
what can we offer the master sommelier.
Senior Vice President, GM-Wine
Southern Wine & Spirits of New
Matt Munn was recently appointed to his new
position at Southern Wine & Spirits of New York.
had the opportunity to sit down
with Matt just prior to his start date to discuss his
past experiences and his new responsibilities.