A Kalamazoo wine distributor’s mission to save a great grape
CHRISTINE SKANDIS, FOUNDER OF SKANDIS FINE WINES – ERIK HOLLADAY
Experience the Nectar of the Gods!
Skandis Fine Wines traveled from the sun drenched landscapes of Italy into glasses at the Yale Club’s. Yale Club members experienced rare, heirloom grape varietals facing extinction, while learning their history from the wine guru herself, importer and distributor Christine Skandis. Among her recognition, Skandis was inducted into the Dionysian Society International in 2006, the world’s oldest wine society, making her one of only six female members in the world to date.
Saugatuck Local Observer, November 30, 2005
Rare Grapes Grow Unique Wine Business For Local Resident
Importer Christine Skandis takes a different approach to wine. The Saugatuck resident and owner of Skandis Fine Wines focuses on rare, unique, indigenous grape varietals.
“I’ve been working with a remote village in the mountains of Piedmont, Italy , helping them to become compliant with our federal and state obligations,” said Skandis, who started her business five years ago. “I visited them in Italy and returned with exclusivity for all of the U.S. for importing from that village area.”
The grapes Skandis secured exclusive rights to import into the United States are indeed rare and unique – perfect for the types of wines she specializes in.
“They’re grown in such limited quantities,” she said. “My goal is to help save grape varietals that are grown in such limited quantities and are very unknown to most people – otherwise they would be ripped out and replaced with Chardonnay grapes or something more common.”
Skandis Fine Wines’ primary market is high-end restaurants. “We’re selling the erbaluces and the borolo blends,” she said. “And we’re in the process of adding several additional portfolios from Italy.”
Skandis carries feature wines, including a special erbaluce, which is made with a white grape.
“It is an ancient Roman grape that has gone relatively unnoticed for hundreds of years,” Skandis said. “With the production of these white wines, the Italian government has identified this grape as an asset, only grown in the very northern portion of Italy in the Swiss Alps.”
The grape used for her erbaluce wines, she said, has a special designation that requires specific factors for producing a perfect grape for this type of wine. The grapes are ranted and designated for their type, plus soil quality, sun and more. But, these grapes are unique, Skandis said, as the region of her exclusivity is the only place in the world that they grow with the designation to produce the wine.
Skandis’ in-depth knowledge of grapes, growing conditions and the production of fine wines is evident.
“I have a passion for wines,” she said. “I didn’t realize at the time we started that it would require so much energy and time.”
Her time invested in studying grapes and wine production has made Skandis an authority in a field that is gaining popularity nationwide.
“Sideways, the movie, worked to open peoples eyes to different varieties of wines,” she said. “It had a very positive impact on people trying something different and unique.”
Skandis is a frequent host of fine wine tasting events. She also provides seminars and appears at shows nationwide.
“We did a tasting at a Grand Rapids Wine festival and we had the most atypical wines and people were so enchanted with the stories of our wines as well as the unique and interesting taste of our wines,” she said.
Skandis is working to introduce and market her wine because it is made from a relatively unknown grape. Her work involves a great deal of traveling across the country to show the wine, including a recent show in New York City, where her product gained special attention.
“I’ve been doing feature wine dinners, where the chef pairs foods with the wine and we present the wine portfolio,” she said. “We’ve also been doing private wine tastings, working with boards, business meetings, showers and coordinating with local restaurants. In our tastings we take groups on culinary journeys through Italy. Once people try these wines, they really love them. They hear about the mountains, castles, wine routes through Italy and more.”
Skandis Fine Wines will be featured at a tasting event at Till Midnight in Holland on Jan. 12 and Feb. 2, as well as at Via Maria restaurant on Jan. 19. Local restaurants that carry Skandis Fine Wines include Blue Moon, Chaps and Everyday People Café in Douglas; Phil’s and Marro’s in Saugatuck; Till Midnight, Via Maria, Piper, Butch’s Dry Dock and Pereddies in Holland.
“I’m very passionate about saving a grape varietal that could otherwise be lost to the world,” Skandis said. “I enjoy enlightening people to the new, unique areas of wine.”
Contact Skandis Fine Wines for information on their products, shows and tasting events at email@example.com or (269) 998-9300.