With over 25 years experience in the wine industry, Patrick Bickford has worn many different hats. He worked as Beverage Director at the Grand Summit Hotel, a boutique property in Summit, NJ, as manager at Wine Cellars of Bernardsville, and as a wholesale sales rep for Winebow early in his career before moving on to tackle New York City. Starting as a sales representative for VOS Selections, a small importer/distributor, he quickly moved up to manage the sales team at the company.
But the siren’s song of the restaurant business lured him back, and in 1998 Patrick accepted a position on the sommelier team at Restaurant Jean Georges, eventually being promoted to Chef Sommelier. After three exciting, satisfying years, he left to develop, curate and direct the extensive wine program at Washington Park, chef Jonathan Waxman’s Greenwich Village restaurant. Later, he worked as Corporate Wine Director for Off the Menu Restaurant Group, which included chef Tom Valenti’s noted Upper West Side establishments Ouest and ‘Cesca.
Sliding over to the wholesale side of the business again, in 2006 he next moved back to Winebow, managing their on-premise sales division in NYC, with sales of over $15 million annually. He also served on the Winebow wine education committee, and was responsible for training all new sales rep hires. Patrick and his wife Susan relocated to California in 2010, where he consulted for A.I. Selectons, helping to open and develop the California market. After a harvest internship at Littorai, Patrick worked as Estate Sommelier at Merry Edwards Winery, where he handled all their direct on-premise California sales, and covered a number of select national markets.
In May 2013, Patrick left Merry Edwards to launch blr wine co. with his wife, Susan LaRossa. They represent small, family-owned, premium California wineries with total production under 4000 cases. Patrick and Susan advise their clients on all strategic issues involving national sales and distribution. They impact existing distribution, through managing depletions and distributor inventories, and providing support in the market (marketing materials/market visits with sales reps/trade tastings). They also have extensive distributor connections to open new markets throughout the country. They focus attention on planning and executing on each winery client’s strategic goals in sales/pricing, allocations and releases, and all other aspects of wholesale distribution and marketing.
Patrick has a B.A. in Psychology from Fairfield University, and has achieved the Advanced Sommelier title from the Court of Master Sommeliers. He is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers and also the American Sommelier Association.
When not chasing his wine jones, you can usually find Patrick running somewhere on the trails of the North Bay, or tinkering with his latest batch of amaro bilaro.
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