Demeine Estates is a family-owned producer, importer, and marketer of the world’s finest wines based in the heart of Napa Valley, Calif. A leader in luxury wines in the U.S., Demeine Estates sets the standard in exceptional marketing, fine wine sales, and distribution services.

Founded by The Lawrence family and Carlton McCoy Jr., the company is led by President Philana Bouvier. We caught up with her to learn more about Demeine Estates’ curated portfolio, growth opportunities within the company, team building, and more.

Read highlights from our conversation below (edited for clarity):

On being a culture of builders

We’re very fast-paced, high energy. We actually look beyond the resume when it comes to hiring. What sets the Demeine apart is we look for producer partners that are not only the standard in the business but yet have exceptional quality and we’re not following industry trends. We actually set trends. Our company was founded by you know one of the most amazing leaders, Carlton McCoy my CEO, Master Sommelier and also the Lawrence family. And we are built upon the great estates of the United States, of course, especially here in Napa and soon to be representing great estates from around the world and we’re able to provide a very high level of service to our partners.

And why do people want to work with us? We are believers in self-starters. You have to be a self-starter. We have a very entrepreneurial mindset. We genuinely believe in inclusivity at the top down and by nature, if you think about the leadership of our organization it’s extremely diverse.

We are a company of builders; we’re not maintainers. So to come work with Demeine Estates, you’re actually building a culture with us.

And we want high performers; we need high energy. And a lot of that is the DNA of not only our leadership team and some of it is probably myself because I came you know if you think about how a career is built, you have to have diligence and you have to have focus. But most importantly, you have to have support and the support of an organization to get you to where you need to go and it’s true you got to go from good to great and we believe in that. This company has experienced in a very short amount of time triple-digit growth and we are not stopping and that’s what’s exciting about it.

If someone is looking for a career where they can actually affect change and not work in such a large organization where you feel like you can’t affect change, then Demeine Estates is actually the place for you because we’re building something very special.

We are the most dynamic import company right now and we will continue that path and as I always say to the teams, we’re only just beginning so it’s important that everyone is on board but we also want to make sure how can we get them on board, what do they need to be successful to be on board, and then to stay on board and to feel that energy and you know life is it always throws a lot of twists and turns your way, so you want to make sure that when you come to work, we want to make sure it’s one of the most thriving and really just positive places to be and that’s very important to us.

On future growth plans and expansion

There are absolutely plans for expansion because we want to continue to represent the best producers in every region so that is part of our growth strategy is to represent high luxury producers and also wines that we enjoy drinking. I was just on the phone with our SVP of Sales, Andrew Deitz, and he actually said it best: we’re a group of very passionate individuals who care about what’s in our glass and also care about what we sell so we will continue to drive forward and represent some of the best producers so there’s more to come with that.

Our strategy obviously is focused on Western Europe so more in France and Italy and we have some surprises coming along the way too, which is one of the reasons why we are growing and hiring more people. It’s so important to be part of this build that we’re doing because there is actually more coming but it’s all a fantastic mix of just a really interesting set of beautiful wines that are with that are heritage, that are about legacy, and also that represent just history.

On defining top talent

Top strategic talent to me looks like someone who’s innovative, energetic, a team player, and also someone who listens. We are always looking beyond the resume and looking at the holistic person so we want high performance from the top talent but someone who is also going to bring soft skills to the role and there’s so much about the work that we do and our success is really based on relationships so you can only have great relationships if you listen and it’s a skill that doesn’t immediately show up on a resume from a sales perspective.

On core skills in prospective new hires

Diligence. You have to have diligence. Selling high-end luxury fine wine is difficult. wWhen you’re selling a price point where the average FOB is $500 a case, it is not easy. And so it’s really important that the person coming into the role, especially when we look at salespeople, is you have to have diligence, fortitude, and you have to be able to get through challenges easily. You have to be able to problem-solve on the spot and be flexible, and be nimble, and those are the skills that we look for and on top of also being a great relationship person and having high integrity.

I am a salesperson by nature. I love sales. If I could do it for the rest of my life, I would. It’s something that is such a fantastic skill set and everyone sells differently. People don’t have to sell the same way and it’s really about connecting the dots and getting to that end result and getting people to to say yes. That’s the job is to get people to say yes and to be able to place our wines at some of the best restaurants in the world and on some of the best shelves in stores and restaurants, but selling wine at a high level and I will say this again, is not easy. It’s very easy to sell inexpensive wine. It is difficult to sell fine wine. It is two completely different skill sets and what we’re proud of at Demeine is that we do it extremely well. We understand high price points and premium price points and repositioning of our portfolio and we understand how to market those wines in a very high level way.

People who are coming into these sales roles have to be able to take those resources and really build something from there so that to me is what’s so fun about the role. And again, it takes a lot of hard work and it’s also not easy but it’s a lot of fun.

On building a diverse and inclusive team

While others retroactively work to increase diversity, Demeine Estates is built on it.

We have an initiative here that we started called Dream It, Live It. It’s an initiative where we use our industry connections to provide unique opportunities for minority-owned businesses and organizations that are dedicated to making change and we’re very proud of the Dream It, Live It initiative. It’s been extremely successful because we work with minority-owned businesses to help build out what they’re doing as far as their mission in helping to build out a successful business and they are given a set of resources and also our team to work with the team and a company that understands that together we’re going to partner and do something very special together and that’s what Dream It, Live It is about.

We also help build community by introducing everyone to one another. So much about diversity — or the lack of diversity — is also the lack of access. You have to have access to people and you have to have a seat at the table. This is something that is not only is very important but also I’m very passionate about because when you’re building a business and you’re running a small business as an entrepreneur, there are two things you need: one, you need support both mentally and also financially, but two, you need to be able to have access to people. And so for me, when I meet with our Dream It, Live It team members and the people that are working to are working with us to increase diversity, it’s about breaking down those barriers and making sure they have complete access. That’s first and foremost. My Rolodex is their Rolodex.

Demeine Estates is also the committed partner of the Roots Fund which Carlton McCoy, my CEO is a co-founder of, and it’s a non-profit that opens doors for the BIPOC community within wine with also financial support, educational scholarships, wine education, mentorship, and job placement and you know it’s really rewarding to be around Carlton to see the work that he’s done with Roots Fund and how much they’ve done together. It’s phenomenal what that organization has done and it’s being led by Ikimi Dubose and she’s just a rockstar.

What’s important for us is we’re committed to inspiring thoughtful discussions to advance social change and progress, and building resilience, fortitude, and confidence within our communities when it comes to diversity. You have to have the conversation and you have to have the courage to have those conversations with everybody. It is also our goal always to create a team environment that honors different perspectives, ideas, and everyone feels valued so we aim to set an example with our peers and provide fairness and respect and equal opportunity.

And then of course lastly, we support other DEI businesses. It’s not just about what we’re doing here with Dream It, Live It, but we also support Lift Collective which is led by Ranya Zayat who is a dear friend of mine and she’s been in the DEI space and she’s just a fantastic human to be around and we want to be part of that dynamic circle of change because we can’t just do it by ourselves we have you have to go beyond the walls as well.

Interested in joining the Demeine Estates team? The company is actively hiring an Eastern Vice President, a California State Sales Manager, and a Midwest Regional Manager.