ABA Banking Journal - March 2013 - (Page 44)

first person ADAM BEAK “Double-barreled” life Winery lender can’t resist being part of the business Gewurztraminer is the first wine that Adam Beak remembers sampling. A family friend managed Navarro Vineyards’ tasting room, and brought the unfinished bottles to dinner. The taste, or perhaps the name, made an impression. It’s an aromatic white. “Gewurz” means spicy in German. Beak, 49, was only in eighth grade at the time—“we were tasting a little, not getting schnockered”—but formed an interest. Now, he’s the one handed the wine list at business lunches. Beak worked for a time at a commercial-finance company where Oenophile banker Adam Beak squeezed both a career and a sideline out of wine. part of his job included inventory Learn more about the art of wine lending at http://tinyurl.com/winebanker auditing, including wineries. When an opportunity came to begin lendplan and putting in his stake, ing to winemakers, he took it, and built up the business. In time, he became consists of financial advice. The CFO to a small winemaker, where he learned more. Minor family has the winemaking Beak, who jokes that perhaps he was born to winemaking, having debuted and marketing expertise. in “Champaign,” Ill., is currently senior vice-president and manager of Bank The traditional winemaking cycle of the West’s North Coast Agricultural Banking Center/Premium Wine requires patient capital. Beak says it Group, based in Napa, Calif. The group, with an $800 million-plus portfolio, takes several years for vineyards to banks all winery and related businesses—even down to suppliers of corks. establish themselves, and the pro“We lend up and down the business,” he says, from the wine giants to the duction and buildup of inventory many small, often family-owned labels. takes more time—about six years in Can someone not be a wine enthusiast and still bank the trade? Beak paustotal. “We were looking for a disrupes, as if sampling a new vintage: “There are probably a few out there, but it tive model,” says Beak, and being a would be difficult. I can’t imagine a vegetarian lending to a feedlot operator.” negociant helped. The wines include Lending is his day job. Since 2005, Beak has been an investor in Sean a cabernet, merlot, pinot noir, charMinor Wines, producer of a label by the same name as well as the Four Bears donnay, sauvignon blanc, and a Winery brand. Should you visit California, don’t bother trying to visit the high-end red blend. They are drawn Minor tasting rooms or vineyards. There aren’t any. Sean Minor, managed from five California growing regions. by Sean and his wife Nicole, is a negociant. A negociant acquires grape juice, Sean Minor wines have received fruit, or even basic lots of completed wine, with the latter for blending. numerous awards and favorable rat“It’s a dirty little secret of the wine trade,” says Beak, that there are plenty ings in wine publications. of winemakers who don’t grow their own grapes. They may not even own Beak’s personal favorite? “That a production facility, but contract the work. Instead, they concentrate on would be like asking me who my the end results. Beak says negociants can achieve greater year-to-year confavorite child is.” sistency in flavor, much as blended-scotch producers mix single malts for —Steve Cocheo, executive editor & consistent taste. digital content manager Beak’s role in Sean Minor, in addition to helping write the original business 44 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | March 2013 http://www.tinyurl.com/winebanker

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - March 2013

ABA Banking Journal - March 2013
Contents
Chairman’s View
Editor’s Column
The Economy
Bank Notes
Picture This
Don’t let Trojans infiltrate your customers
Pass the Aspirin
Tech Topics
Working smarter, harder, and right
Mobile Banking: 7 keys for success
Compliance Clinic
Compliance Inbox
ABA At Your Service
First Person

ABA Banking Journal - March 2013

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