Importers and Producers

Partnering with Tricana Imports, and the Birth of The Artisan’s Cellar

February 1, 2015 | Scott Braunschweig

Soon after the family trip to Italy in 2008 that led to Artisan’s Founder Scott Braunschweig having his “wine epiphany,” he enrolled in several series of classes at the Wine School of Philadelphia with the goal of delving deeper into the world of wine that had so enthralled him. One September evening in 2009, Scott arrived at the school to find an alternate, unexpected class: A tasting of more than 20 Italian wines conducted by the national importer Tricana Imports, based in Plainview, New York. Tricana’s Fosco Amoroso and Federico Dall’Olmo eloquently lead the class on a whirlwind adventure through Italy one delicious wine at a time, fueling Scott’s interest and passion for Italian wines even further. After class, Scott introduced himself to Fosco and Federico, and mentioned that he was considering forming a wine distributorship in Pennsylvania. The three fell into a lengthy conversation about their mutual love of Italian wines and how best to sell them in Pennsylvania’s challenging wholesale market. Scott piqued their interest with his ideas and enthusiasm at a time when Tricana was looking to strengthen their representation in the Philadelphia area, and they offered Scott representation rights for their portfolio in the Keystone State. Thus, Artisan’s Cellar was born. Federico joined Artisan’s in 2010, and helped the company get established for the first five years. Fosco remains with Tricana as Sales Manager and continues to work with the Artisan’s team to this day. Tricana is a remarkable company, whose longevity and influence are nothing short of stunning. With a history in wine importing that goes back to 1978, Tricana Imports has been at the forefront of the evolution of America’s wine culture for nearly four decades. This is a remarkable achievement, for the changes the wine industry in the United States has undergone have been staggering. Through it all, Tricana has managed to maintain its position as one of the top importing firms through a unique combination of staying true to its founding ideals alongside a willingness to expand the range of where their wines come from. Those sources include some of the most exciting appellations in Italy, France, and Spain—and, within them, styles of wine that don’t necessarily have long histories of consumption in the United States but that, through Tricana’s efforts, are finding their well-deserved place at the American table. Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, for example, the rich cherry-colored rosé from the region more well-known for its red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, has, in recent years, become a real hit. Most importers would have shied away from this denser style of rosé, opting instead to focus on the lighter, more Provencal-style bottlings that made such headway here. But Tricana, and its team of passionate, dedicated professionals, saw the inherent quality of the bottling by Cantina Frentana’s Terre Valse, and decided to work with it anyway. Good thing they did, as it has become a mainstay of the Artisan’s Cellar portfolio. That’s the kind of decision-making that has led to Tricana’s continued success, and the sort of bravery that will surely take it into the future. As for what that future looks like, it’s brighter than the sunshine in Cahors. Tricana was recently acquired by Garry Tornberg and his wife, Lisa Tarulli, of Roadhouse Wine Merchants in Glen Cove, New York. Roadhouse broadens Tricana’s offerings considerably by adding the wines of many remarkable producers in France, particularly Bordeaux, as well as Italy, Spain, Israel, Argentina, and more. As a result, Tricana is poised to hit its fourth decade in an even stronger position than ever before. Which is saying something significant, and yet another indication of how lucky wine lovers are to have access to these beautifully crafted, deeply honest bottlings.