BD: Tell me a little bit of the history behind Southwest Wines.
BD: How important is it to Southwest to be a family company?
FL: It’s who we are and what we do every day. We’re sixth-generation and hoping the seventh comes on board. It’s important to keep that legacy. In the wine business, when you grow and sell grapes, it takes more than one generation to have a successful business. It’s a long-term project that requires a lot of passion.
BD: What specifically makes New Mexico suitable for vineyards?
FL: We have a high elevation of about 4,300 feet, first of all. We have hot days and cool nights, with a 40 degree difference between the two. The area is also very dry, which means we don’t have to spray as many chemicals to control pests. The climate also creates a consistent wine, year after year. New Mexico is actually the oldest area in the nation for growing grapes – it goes back to the 1600s. The quality and history are both here, and we’re proud to be based in New Mexico.
BD: What can you tell me about Soleil Mimosa?
FL: We started that brand about 20 years ago. It took a long time to formulate that product. We did a lot of trials, visiting different orchards around the country. We wanted to find the best oranges for it. In the last ten years, we’ve found the recipe to make it the best product out there. More recently we added the mango, pineapple and pomegranate flavors, which are all made from fresh-squeezed juice like the original. We also added a can, which has taken off rapidly and now we see competitors doing the same thing.
BD: Your winery produces a number of brands besides Soleil Mimosa – what’s new with them?
FL: We’re producing wines in New Mexico with New Mexico varietals that are winning national and international wine competitions. Also, the St. Clair Mimbres Red is the number-one selling red wine in New Mexico, above all other brands.
BD: How are you working on retailers to educate them about the products?
FL: The main thing is tastings, tastings, tastings. We need to get consumers to try the product. We’re working with retailers to explain who we are and what we do – a big part of that is organizing tastings.
BD: What’s next for Southwest Wines?
FL: We’re working on vertical integration. We want to make sure we know everything that’s in our wines – it all goes back to quality. We can’t compete in volume against the big guys, but we can compete on quality and I think we have the best product out there.