( about Fat Barrel )
Whether it’s wine or people, FAT BARREL is all about “the good stuff.” We refuse to take ourselves too seriously and don’t believe in wine snobbery.
We believe in creating relationships and friendships rather than wine lists and reviews. Don’t get us wrong – we love wine lists and great reviews – but fun, good friends, good wine and great smiles are “the Barrelman’s bounty.” Our friends often describe their secret wine stash, their best wines, as the fat barrels, aka the good stuff. This is where the name of our company comes from. Plus, it’s hard to say FAT BARREL five times without smiling – and that is good stuff.
Founded in 2007, today FAT BARREL produces over 14 brands, represents a select group of independent South African estates, and partners with restaurants and retailers throughout the US to create and supply private label wine brands from seventy to several thousand cases. The story of FAT BARREL began more than 25 years ago when the company’s founder first traveled to South Africa. He fell in love with a land and people uplifted by truth and reconciliation. He discovered one of the world’s oldest wine cultures dating back to 1652, steeped in cultural diversity (eleven official languages), co-existing within one of the world’s most significant biodynamic plant kingdoms, the Cape Floral Kingdom. In 1992 he went to South Africa to sell US products, but he came back impassioned to tell the story of South Africa’s great vignerons.
Through the graciousness and patience of our customers, who have listened, tasted and chosen to support us, to our suppliers who entrusted us to be the messenger of their stories across the sea, FAT BARREL has become a community – a community we invite you to join.
Welcome to Fat Barrel Wine Company. Thank you for visiting.
a message from Bob
My South African community has blessed my life with profound relationships and made me a better world citizen. Their trust and the trust my customers has enriched my life beyond what I ever imagined was possible when boarding my first flight to the Cape. A most humbling task and great professional challenge is to find the words to appropriately honor the South African’s in my life, while at the same time recognizing my family, friends and customers that have supported my love affair with the Rainbow Nation. My daily quest is to unite “my South African family”, the barrel men & barrel women if you will, with my family, friends, co-workers and customers here at home – my collective tribe – all of whose unwavering support allowed me the privilege to write this today.
The story of FAT BARREL WINE COMPANY is not about fynbos.Fynbos (/ˈfeɪnbɒs/; Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfɛi̯nbos] meaning fine-leaved plants) is a small belt of natural shrubland or heathland vegetation located on the Western Cape of South Africa. It is not about global politics or international economics. It is not about the humanitarian challenges that so often unfairly define discussions about things African. It is not about the 350 year old history of wine in the Cape, nor why the Cape’s wines are today considered part of the New World when they come from the oldest part of our world. It most certainly is not about me, nor the efforts of any one individual. It is about us, “my tribe”, and our collective efforts to help each other; those of my customers, mentors, suppliers, friends and my competitors – all of us. It’s about you if you are reading this.
This journey has been fueled by a collective consciousness of hope, a provocative elixir of positive energy that radiates from the Cape of Hope, a graciousness that South Africans contribute to our global soul and my desire to share this with you: those I know and those of you I have yet to meet. It is only through graciousness, trust and guidance that I am able to pursue my dreams of uniting my two families, to create “my tribe”. I benefit every day from the dedicated efforts of grape farmers, winemakers, wine buyers, global logistic professionals and their support networks, each working to achieve their own hopes and dreams, and to make their lives and the lives of those around them better. To be a small part of this is my honor and a great responsibility.
Thank you for your interest in Fat Barrel Wine Company.
Welcome to my barrel of bounty.
Thank you for visiting.
Thank you to my parents and family whom have supported and blessed my South African love affair. To the Mathiot’s, my Oregon family, thank you for opening your home and hearts 26 years ago. To all of the Portland, Oregon wine community, thank you for giving the wines of South Africa a chance. To Melissa K. and Michael A. your friendship is invaluable. To Chris K. and Paul G, you two protected a kid from Virginia when no one else would, so to put is simply – without you two there would be none of this. To Judy & Kevin, Kim & Greg and your girls, well…you know I will start crying if I have to say what you all already know. To Eddie and Linda & all the HS staff, your patience and guidance is irreplaceable. To the entire staff at the Eendracht (eendracht-hotel.com), you have created the best of homes making one of the world’s best towns even better. Thank you for always taking care of me and my friends. To Simon, thank you for building the best pub in South Africa and for letting me in (facebook.com/stommejonge). To TVZ and family & Loami and family , “Yebo”, without you, the barrels would be empty and South Africa a much less special place to me. To Ansgar, Van Zyl, Marius, Rianie & Louis, Retha & Juan, Denis, Nico & Chris, thank you for your amazing support, guidance & friendship. To Amy P, we do not get to talk much but knowing you are in my corner makes the apple sauce you dumped on my head well worth it. To Jessica H. (now “F”) and Antonio Santofimia, your wisdom is invaluable. To Dr. Sorhab Behdad (denison.edu/people/sohrab-behdad) Dr. Ross LaRoe (denison.edu/people/ross-laroe) and DENISON UNIVERSITY (denison.edu), thank you for educating me and for teaching me about global diversity, its value and the responsibility one has to understand others and find common ground.
Most importantly, to call David Hutton my GM is a great honor and to be his friend an even greater honor.
To Ross, thank you for always believing in me and helping me be a better brother.
To the late Ralph Emmons: “Yes Ralphy, you’re right… I can.”
None of this is possible without my family: L, R, L & S, Aunt F and especially Mom & Dad.
I love you all very much.
Thanks for believing in me and “my tribe”.
( who we are )
The Fat Barrel staff share one common goal: to supply quality driven, fair priced South African wines through best-in-class customer service.
By David “I first met Bob in 1999 when he visited the Stellenbosch producer that I ran the international sales & marketing division of. Bob was a director of our export agent, a leading US-based South African wine importer. Upon meeting Bob, it became immediately evident to me that Bob and I totally understood each other, and still do today. My first memories of Bob are associated with his infectious passion for South Africa, its citizens and our wine industry. I learned Bob’s passion had started in 1992 when he first visited my country to source South African goods to import into the US. I was impressed with all the experiences Bob had had in South Africa and stayed in direct contact with him after our initial meeting. Bob eventually sold his shares in the importer I was supplying in 2005, nevertheless we stayed in touch. In 2008 I was able to supply Bob’s new company, Fat Barrel, with wine for his Bob’s branded South African range of wines. I always found time to get together for a coffee or glass of wine when Bob was in South Africa, seeing him more often than seeing some friends who live in South Africa. It was clear to me South Africa was becoming Bob’s second home, and this continues today.”
By Bob An industry leader that would always take my call and always take time to have a coffee with me. I told him my crazy ideas about a wine brand called Bob’s™ when he was building and running the Brampton™ brand, and he did not laugh. Perhaps he was the only one who believed in my vision of what a wine company could be, of what a wine brand could represent. Today he is a critical link in leading Fat Barrel to become a more respected member of the corporate community. David is a man of family, faith, community responsibility, patience and leadership. It is my honor to work with David Hutton and have him lead FAT BARREL WINE COMPANY from the source of our daily inspiration – South Africa.
By Bob When the “chips are down” this is the only man to have in your corner. Jason brings 15+ years as a wine sales road warrior to FAT BARREL. Jason has carried the lion’s share of the weight in the past two years in NY. I was fortunate enough to be able to hire Jason when I previously ran a New York & New Jersey wine distributor. In one month Jason accomplished what it takes most three months to accomplish. In short, he gets it. He understands the wine business from “the street level” as well as anyone. Jason is who you pick first at recess. He is also the man you want with you in the passenger seat when you get a flat tire after sun-set on the Baden-Powell. (Eish…)
By Bob This is all his fault. What does a big brother do for his baby brother who wants to impress a girl during spring break when working for Wolfgang Puck in San Francisco? Well… he starts by getting him a table at the hottest restaurant in San Francisco in 1988, then starts dropping off glasses of Puligny-Montrachet white Burgundy, then two glasses Bonnes Mares red Burgundy and finishes with glasses of 1982 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Rouge. Yebo, talk about hooking a little brother up – I was hooked, by the wines more than the girl. Ross has been behind my love of wine, South Africa and its wines since the beginning. When it was time for him to start a second career, following 25 years in child psychology, again he had his baby brother’s back.
( the Rest of the Bunch )
Mentors & friends who consult and guide us ensuring we become better stewards of our product’s journey into your home.
Nico Walters was sought out in 1999 to reinvigorate the vineyards of an award-winning, internationally recognized wine estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa. His vineyard selection skills, knowledge and implementation of vinicultural best practices, coupled with his vineyard staff leadership led this family-owned estate to its pinnacle of global recognition, producing some of South Africa’s best red wines. In 2013, an international investor, pursuing a dream to make a globally recognized red wine, talked Nico into revitalizing yet another private estate on the southwest face of Stellenbosch’s Simonsberg mountain. While managing this project, Nico holds the Fat Barrel team to the highest of viticulture standards. Nico’s knowledge of the South African terroir, specifically Stellenbosch, his patience with Bob and longtime friendship with David Hutton provides invaluable access to Fat Barrel Wine Company for some of the most sought after estate grown Stellenbosch fruit for the FAT BARREL™-Stellenbosch range with Nico personally overseeing all vineyard management and sourcing practices.
After 15 years at the helm of an award-winning producer where he produced arguably the first cult wine of South Africa, Christopher Keet decided to follow his dream of making his own wine, or as Chris says, “A personal quest to bottle Earth’s poetry.” To pay the rent along the way, Chis became a leading consulting winemaker in South Africa. This consultancy role has allowed Chris to study the great diversity of South Africa’s terroir, and brings to Fat Barrel an in-house expert on “how all the pieces fit together or stand on their own”. Chris’ personal take on earth’s poetry is his limited production, highly sought after red wine called, First Verse, a “Bordeaux-inspired” bottle of elegance and substance. As spiritual wine-making mentor to Bob Lynde, and longtime peer to Nico Walters, Chris’ winemaking knowledge ensures the FAT BARREL™- Stellenbosch range achieve, retain and maintain the classical, globally recognized varietal characteristics while honoring their sense-of-place. He does all of this while happily throwing himself between Nico & Bob as Bob constantly pushes his luck chirping (teasing) his friend and vinicultural mentor Nico.