Your personal wine sourcer has just entered the chat. Meet John Holbrooks, First Bottle’s Director of Private sales– AKA your go-to-guy that’s here to help you get your wine wish list into your cellar.
In the Spring of 2023, First Bottle Wines brought John Holbrooks to the team as Director of Private Sales. Since jumping in, John has been working with First Bottle clients on a more personal, one-to-one basis, helping First Bottler’s meet their wine needs, wants, and dreams.
“We already provide an incredible selection of wines from around the world at pricing that is the most competitive in the country,” said John. “My hope is to add to that a layer of service that will even further distinguish First Bottle.”
John has been a wine professional the last 20 years, with notable experience working in the iconic New York City restaurant Union Square Café, and as a distributor sales representative at Martin Scott Wines before hitting the direct-to-consumer side here at First Bottle.
He first encountered the wine world while working as a server at a restaurant called Sweet Basil in Vail, Colorado. He opted to work during the evening, reserving his daylight hours for skiing– Those nights at Sweet Basil got him hooked on the wine bug, and there was no going back.
“Wine hit me like a ton of bricks,” said John.
He loved it so much, in fact, that he decided to move to become a sommelier and move to New York City, where he worked at Union Square Café, and then Martin Scott Wines.
“It was a lot of hard work, and New York is a very competitive market, but it was super exciting. I rode the subway around the city with my wheeled bag of wine and ate daily at some of the most exciting restaurants in the city,” said John. “However, in 2009 I first visited Northern California with my then-girlfriend who is now my wife. I was struck by the vibe… We moved a year and a half later and have now been living in Napa for twelve years.”
Since moving to Napa, John has worked with some main-players in the wine industry, including WineAccess, where he worked as a wine sourcer, and Bounty Hunter where he spent seven years as a wine sales manager before heading the new private sales project at First Bottle. More recently, John worked as the Direct to Consumer Director for Favia Wines, owned by viticulturalist Annie Favia and her winemaker husband Andy Erickson.
“So much of what I do every day fills me with pride. I feel so lucky to work in an industry that I care about, and that provides me with so much pleasure. My job is basically to come to work and talk about some of the greatest wines on the planet all day,” says John. “What gives me the biggest sense of pride, however, is when I’m able to gain a client’s trust and get them to try something new. There is no better feeling than hearing their feedback after a cork is pulled, and that the client has a new wine they love.”
John’s own palate is driven by his travels, his love for cooking, and influence from his wife. John notes that he and his wife are “famous amongst our friends because we are often discussing our next meal before the one we are having is even finished.”
His favorite wine depends on the mood, season, and meal, but if he could get his hands on any bottle, it would be 1992 Henri Jayer ‘Cros Parantoux’ Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru. John notes that he would share it with the one who turned him onto Burgundy in the first place: his wife Kate. But until then, his go-to wine and holy-grail pairing is Grand Cru White Burgundy and fried chicken.
John’s services are complimentary. To work with John, give him an email or a ring and let him know what you’re hoping to get your hands on. He’ll work with you one on one and do whatever he can to make your cellar dreams come true. John’s 20 years in the industry mean that he’s connected, and can pull the insider strings to get the wines on your hard-to-find wish list. And not to mention, he’s super cool.
John looks forward to being a resource for our First Bottle community. You can reach him at his direct line, 707.927.2737 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.