As I approach my 25th year in the wine business I’m still trying to come up with a simple, on point description as to what I do in the wine industry (my mother still wants to know too). Well, here it goes… We’re brokers, merchants, negotiators, promoters & pioneers to small, artisan winemakers in Napa Valley, Sonoma and the Northwest Oregon and Washington winegrowing regions. In what order would depend on the day.
Who are our customers?
We provide a seamless service from producer to customer. We sell directly to our private referral based client list, “Madison Group” and to restaurants, café bistros, specialty markets, and wine shops.
Who are our producers?
This list is constantly evolving. Every tin shed we spot on a wine country back road could be the home of the next “best wine you never heard of.” We’re not wine critics but rather promoters, so 95% of everything we taste won’t make our list, only the “must have” wines are delivered via email to your inbox. Our freelance style gives us the ability to keep the hunt going, while reporting back to “the group” with our latest finds. We don’t sit on warehouses of inventory that we need to sell to survive; but rather tell the story of the latest finds, offer the group a pre-negotiated off-market case price, and take delivery of exactly what our group orders and forwards each client their requested order.
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Mark, Susie and Madison
Mark Ellis: Proprietor
I was recruited from the wholesale meat and produce business to wine distribution by a family member in 1994. I started in the deep end of the wine industry, dove in head first by selling rare and collectable Bordeaux. When I dipped my nose into that glass of 1986 Mouton Rothschild, I was hooked. Since I worked and lived in Northern California, it was natural to include wines from our backyard in the portfolio. The birth of cult wines and rising star winemakers becoming celebrities in Napa Valley was emerging. Again, it was a wine, a 1994 Araujo Cabernet that got me hooked! Wine Spectator printed a cover story about the emerging cult wines of Napa Valley and BOOM, like a cannon, the business took off. It was not just elite cults, but veteran boutique houses including Caymus, Shafer, Joseph Phelps, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, and Chateau Montelena that were releasing absolute stellar wines at comparable quality to value prices. Most importantly, drinkable rather young. Our business evolved thanks to the invention of internet and email - our niche became personal sommelier service to a closed client list, the "Madison black book," introducing them to the "next best wine you haven't yet heard of." We're pushing twenty five years and we're just getting started!
Susie Ellis: Proprietor
Susie is the wife of Mark and has owned her own bookkeeping business, Balance Bookkeeping, since 1998. She takes care of every bookkeeping detail that has to do with Madison Wine Company. She and Mark just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary in April. Susie's most celebrated accomplishment by far is the namesake of the company and her and Mark's daughter, Madison Ellis.
Madison graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2015, with a bachelors degree in Wine and Viticulture. She is currently working at Duckhorn Wine Company in Napa Valley, as their Trade & Events Coordinator. She enjoys spending family time in the kitchen, while eating her Dad's culinary creations and pairing them with different wine samples.