Tristan Maldonado, CEO of Hops &Vines Distributing, talks about the multi-level distribution of beer and wine in Texas.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com is the website. We’re talking hospitality all this week on the show. Hospitality covers a lot of ground. We’re talking about everything you eat, everything you drink, ways to go have a good time in the state. We have some very interesting stories for you. I’m your host, Matt Register. Jay Curry is over here in the co-host chair. Jay, talk to me.
Jay Curry: Well, if there’s one are you can take Texas and brand it, it’s in hospitality. It’s in wine, Texas wines. We’ve talked about that before. It’s in beer, Texas craft beers. That’s what this segment is all about and it really drives home that Texas can be a brand for you.
Matt Register: Well, no doubt about that, and the wine industry in Texas, we’ve had some guys on here to talk about that before, is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s becoming more and more credible throughout the world. The beer industry, some fascinating things have been happening in the beer industry over the last several years. Texas is no different. There’s some amazing Texas beers out there on the market. Tristan Maldonado’s a Co-founder and CEO of Hops and Vines Distributing, out of San Antonio, joins us here in the studio. Tristan, welcome to the show.
Tristan Maldonado: Hey, thanks for having me.
Matt Register: Talk to me a little bit about Hops and Vines Distributing. What do you do and who do you do it to?
Tristan Maldonado: Yeah, yeah. We try to bring fantastic, superior Texas craft beer and Texas wine to consumers. We’re San Antonio’s first and only independent craft beer and Texas wine distribution company. We happen to be statewide for wine. We truly believe in really only supporting the wineries and the vintners out there that use 100% Texas grown fruit. We also only support the Texas craft beer scene. Craft breweries within our state lines, you are game. You are our friend. Our job is to really put it into people’s mouths. Get it into those places that they can buy and enjoy and have an experience. That’s what our job is, is the middle tier, the distribution company.
Matt Register: Well this is interesting. We were talking during the break about how a lot of businesses that start are trying to do too much, to be all things to all people. Your niche, that’s quite remarkable. Texas is a big place. Texas is its own brand. You won’t touch anything that’s made outside of Texas, or on the wine side, made out of grapes not grown in Texas, right?
Tristan Maldonado: Yeah. Absolutely. I think, we’ve done a ton of research and I studied the industry pretty in depth and drilled down into the details. The greatest thing about our consumers and us fellow Texans is we define local as statewide. You can then drill down to hyper local. It’s made within San Antonio city limits, or Houston, or Dallas or whatnot. But, it still feels good, and you still feel like you’re supporting a local industry by supporting and drinking Texas. That’s where we’ve built our business off of that. Let’s be the purveyor of superior Texas craft beer and Texas wine. I think it’s also, we are the stewards. We’re the ones cultivating the conversation of what it truly means to be Texas. You can be a Texas wine, but where does your fruits come from?
We want to cultivate that conversation to let people know where they come from because if you create the experiences and you create that conversation, then you have a marketing firm out there and consumers that can then go talk to their friends, and ask for it at the restaurants, on an anniversary dinner, or a celebratory dinner, or whatever it may be, or backyard barbecue. But, all the while, we’re helping our industry, and we’re helping our state economy by driving the alcohol industry forward in a really evangelical, passionate way. We want to know every single buddy that we work with. We want to understand their story because we sell stories. We sell products too. That’s maybe secondary, but we sell the stories of why this matters, who you’re supporting, and what their mission is, because then you’re supporting our mission and our vision here in Texas.
Matt Register: Well, interestingly enough, a lot of the other distributors, these craft beers, the vast majority of them are startups. They’re doing their best. They’re growing their business, but they don’t have the ability to come to a distributor and guarantee vast volumes of things. They’re going to have to work into that. For most distributors, that’s a deal breaker. Right?
Tristan Maldonado: Yeah.
Matt Register: And you guys are willing to take a look and here the story, listen to how they’re going to grow their business, how they’re going to get to the point where they can supply the volumes that you need. Give me an example of one of your favorite breweries that started not being able to get you the kind of volume that you needed, that now are well on their way.
Tristan Maldonado: Yeah. Well I think right now we are on the cusp of two years of operations. Every single one of the partners in the breweries that we work with have truly assisted in helping in growing my business and my vision. So, they’re all absolutely incredibly important to our business. We’ve worked with BS Brewing out of Seguin. Brian makes absolutely fantastic nontraditional ales using only 100% hyper local ingredients. He has tremendously helped my business as well as we have helped grow his business. But he’s also represented by a large distribution company out of Austin too. It’s hard to say who and what we’ve done to help grow somebody’s business, but what we’re trying to do collectively from an industry is grow the Texas craft beer scene.
From Legal Draft Beer Company out of Arlington, who believed in our vision, to New Braunfel’s Brewing Company, we have these … Buffalo Bayou, here in Houston. We have so many of these great breweries that are passion-driven that want to great an experience, every top that’s popped. That is what our job is, is to help that. In turn, they’re helping grow our business too. Sorry, that was a really vague answer because every single one of our breweries and wineries is important to our business. We’ve got to do this together. That’s the way that we’re going to compete against-
Jay Curry: So Tristan, you’re not just going after the big boys, the HEB’s and stuff, but also the restaurants. Who all are you going into? You’re taking these stories and you’re taking them into the restaurants in the various places where you can participate.
Tristan Maldonado: Yeah. Anybody that’ll listen. Right?
Jay Curry: Right.
Tristan Maldonado: Anybody that’ll listen.
Jay Curry: Well hopefully, and drink a beer, right?
Tristan Maldonado: And drink a beer or glass of wine. Yeah, but one of the things that if we’re going to be the brand stewards and we’re going to help grow these brands to be powerhouses, we also got to identify the places, the license accounts where the tastemakers go. Because just like a social media magnet, they have followers. Tastemakers have followers. They’re the folks that make quinoa the cool thing, or kombucha the cool thing. Tastemakers, if we can be in those right places where people are going to understand what Kelly from New Braunfel’s Brewing Company’s sour and how he’s aged it in a bourbon barrel for 12 months, and why you’re getting these certain flavors, or this vintner is creating this or that.
We want to be in those places so that they can then have the experience, and then go and be the brand ambassador force out in the market. They can be the sales reps for us, and the salesmen for our brands. We really look and we drill down into the right accounts. We don’t and cannot be everywhere.
Jay Curry: You can’t afford to do that.
Tristan Maldonado: No, no.
Jay Curry: You gotta be very careful.
Tristan Maldonado: Our industry, especially in the distribution world, it is just an incredibly capital intensive business. There are barriers of entry. Let’s not get out in front of our skis. Let’s stay true to what we’re trying to do and let’s do it organically and sustainably, and it happens to be at the tastemakers, at the HEB’s, and the other retailers that these folks go to and maybe have that disposable income. But we also want to not alienate anybody that wants to get into it. It’s really being strategic on those accounts that want to work with us, that can also sell the story after our job is done. After we’ve sold it to them, they have to sell the story to the consumer, ultimately. We want to have those right people that get it.
Jay Curry: What’s you’re after here is, to tell Texans out there, when you go in to enjoy a good drink, whether it be beer or wine or whatever, ask for Texas.
Tristan Maldonado: 100%, yeah.
Jay Curry: Ask for Texas wine. Ask for Texas craft beer.
Matt Register: Ask for Texas and there’s a lot of exciting things happening in wine. There’s a lot of exciting things happening in beer in Texas. Guys, we are getting to the point, especially on the wine side, where Texas wine is as credible as anywhere in world, and is winning awards and doing some really great things. Very interesting story, Tristan
Maldonado, CEO of Hops and Vines Distributing. Tristan, what’s the easiest way for somebody to learn more, should they want. If they have a restaurant, or want to get Texas beers and wines?
Tristan Maldonado: Visit our website, www.hopsandvinesdistributing.com, or follow us on Facebook, Hops and Vines TX.
Matt Register: Hopsandvinesdistributing.com. We’re going to have it linked right there from Texasradio.com, if you’re driving and don’t want to take notes, not a problem. Hopsandvinesdistributing.com. Tristan, thank you very much for joining us.
Tristan Maldonado: Thanks for having me, guys.
Jay Curry: Congratulations.
Matt Register: Really, really exciting stuff. It makes me thirsty. I want a Texas beer. We’re going to be back right after this guys, with a whole lot more hospitality, here on Texas Business Radio.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.