All Things Wine & Working & Marriage With Provisions Fine Beverage Purveyors// An Interview With Scott And Kala Large.
My love affair with wine has not come naturally. Honestly even at age 33 (3 years ago) I thought to myself..will I ever really like the taste of this stuff?! I remember even asking Scott if he needed a wine rep at one time and he was like Samantha..you hate wine ! A lot of my friends would tell me that it just takes time. I began experimenting with different wines and pairing them with different foods and taking notes from the wine connoisseurs in my life. (Most of my friends love love love wine and it's all they drink) I would always and still always take full advantage of wine flights being offered as it gives me the opportunity to try different wines from different regions. But I still love a good label and buy my wines off label alone !! Sometimes this has been a great thing and other times..well, not so much !
I am also intrigued with married couples who work together. Lin retired almost a whole year ago (I cannot believe it , time flies) and I work from home so it has definitely been an adjustment . Some days are certainly easier then others! I cannot imagine us in business together but you never know. He definitely has some big ideas and I am pretty great at social media and sales so maybe one day but I think we would have to set some guidelines so we did not kill one another. There was an article in The Tulsa World not too long ago on this very topic discussing how some married couples find success together in life and on the job and I think The Large's are a perfect example of this!!! It just made perfect sense that they could kill two birds with one stone for me! Plus you all know I am a huge huge fan of the entrepreneur. This amazing couple works incredibly hard and is doing some fantastic things out there, especially for Oklahoma, my current home state. I am so happy to share this dynamic pair with you guys !!!! They are the faces behind Provisions Fine Beverage Purveyors ....distributors of fine wine, artisan beer, and small batch spirits based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Scott & Kala Interview:
-How long have you lovebirds been married?
15 years this October
-Have you always worked together in business?
No - but always knew we should be.
-How do you make it all work? Marriage..business? What's the secret? (i ask this becauseLin recently retired and is always home and I office from home and I am going nuts, ha ! )
No real secret other than focusing on what’s good and never holding a grudge or staying mad. And give each other space when needed even if you are in the same room. We love working together and feel lucky to be able to have each other’s backs. We miss each other when we have a few hours apart. The key to our relationship is that we are very good friends, we crack each other up, and we have a lot of respect for each other.
-Provisions..Distributors of fine wines, artisan beers, and small batch spirits??! Intriguing. When and how did you start this business?
When we got together, we always knew we would start our own business at some point. In 2006, we founded another wine distribution company here in Oklahoma and two years ago we ended up selling our shares to our partners. We seriously considered starting a restaurant, but finally decided that we couldn’t be apart from Lily (our daughter) every night and being the control freaks we are, we knew we would have to be there for every dinner shift, so that would not work. But the pull of the food and wine scene was strong. We were drawn back into the distribution business by wineries and local restaurant and retail accounts reaching out and urging us to get back into the business. It felt good to hear that the wine and beverage scene in Oklahoma wasn't as exciting without us around! So we settled on Provisions: bringing authentic, artisan, family-owned craft spirits, wines, and world-class beers into Oklahoma with a focus on clean winemaking and organic/sustainable viticulture.
-A day in the life of Provisions Fine Beverage ??
We feel very lucky to have our warehouse and office in the heart of the Brady Arts district downtown. We are within walking distance to a ton of top restaurant accounts and Scott can literally walk out the door with a wine bag to call on Prairie Brewpub, The Tavern, and Prhyme, among others. We are still in year-one start-up mode, so we are working day and night right now.
-When you work in the wine business for a long time and have worn so many different hats..you must get burned out sometimes? What makes wine exciting at this point? What keeps you digging?
Scott: The wine business has changed so much since I got into it. There used to be a time when all people wanted were big Napa Cabs and high scoring wines. Not so much anymore. People are more open to varietal experimentation and, frankly, there has been a fundamental shift in what is interesting, and it doesn't have to be expensive, which I am glad about. I love the new energy in the business. The Somm scene in Tulsa is strong right now and that has been a fun evolution to be a part of. I am thrilled to work with the most exciting and dynamic winemakers working today. Our portfolio is already becoming recognized as the most cutting edge in the market. We are at the forefront of the ‘New California’ and “New West’ movement. Also the local food scene and chefs keep me driving. I want to bring the best products here to help what they are doing and make Tulsa/OKC cooler. Really that’s what I’m most excited about.
-I have noticed your entire curation of wines, artisan beers, and small batch spirits is delightful in packaging and taste? How do you find these lovely products? (research,word of mouth, etc) Are there key components you look for in the inventory you curate? How does Provisions chose which wineries to represent?
Kala: Scott has always had his finger on the pulse of the wine world and had always been first to lock on to what is cool, authentic, fresh. That’s why we were so successful in our first venture and why this new incarnation is even better. And this time around we have the cool spirits too,bringing in vanguards like Letherbee, Botanica Spiritvs, Fernet Francisco, Mezcal Vago, and Hanson Brothers Organic Vodkas.
Scott: Matthiasson is one of California’s most respected and sought after wines. Steve (Matthiasson) was Winemaker of the Year in 2012 and 2014 and has been nominated for three James Beard Awards. He’s a down to earth guy who has been in sustainable agriculture his whole life. His wife Jill and his kids have an organic produce business as well. Steve is primarily a viticulturist who consults and works for many of the top wineries in Napa. Bringing these wines to Oklahoma is a huge opportunity for us and for the restaurants and retailers who will be working with them. I had been in touch with Steve off and on over the years in hopes that he would let us work with the brand on some level at some point. Last year Kala and I were invited to spend an afternoon with them at their house, sitting in their beautiful garden overlooking the estate vines and tasting through his recent vintages. They had just recently completed renovations on their home after the big earthquake in 2014, which basically tore their house in half in addition to tossing around the winery barrels and bottles. Patience and persistence paid off and this time when I recently checked in about the possibility of working together, they said yes! That was one of the “best days ever” for Provisions.
-Um..OMG, can we talk about the Folk Machine Central Coast Pinot Noir on tap at Prairie Brew Pub??!!! What do you love about this wine? It’s just the best isn’t it?
Winemaker Kenny Likitprakong is widely respected by his peers and the Central Coast PN is one of the best values in the industry. It’s organically farmed as well! Love it!
-The Folk Machine Valdiguie is my newest bff. What are you loving right now in your curated inventory?
Kala: the incredibly complex Domaine de Pallus ‘Messange’ Rosé, the highly awarded and pure Caraccioli Cellars Sparkling Wines, smooth and silky Descendientes de Palacios ‘Petalos’, and surprisingly round and balanced Ravines Finger Lakes Chardonnay.
Scott: The Folk Machine Valdiguie is just a ridiculous bottle of wine. From a single vineyard, old heritage vines. So little of it planted in California at all. I’m loving everything we have but really excited about some new things coming in: Scar of the Sea – Ciders and Wines from Santa Barbara ,Le P’tit Paysan & La Marea – from winemaker Ian Brand, his Chardonnay is so crazy good right now. Field Recordings – Artisan Wines in 500ml tall boy cans! Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc and so many more cool offerings in bottle too! Folk Machine – Parts & Labor – one of our best sellers is now available in magnums! Party size! So inexpensive! Bernebaleva – from Spain. Means the path of the Bear! I’m obsessed .Ameztoi Txakolina & Uriando Txakolina – Txakoli from the Basque Country in Spain! An exciting and dynamic white wine that is slightly fizzy, and so refreshing! So many more – I just really am so excited about our portfolio! We have so much to offer!
-I purchase wine based on label alone? I am a sucker for a great label.....what advice can you offer me to not judge a book by it's cover so to speak?! Or am I just fine ?!
Scott : It’s totally cool to buy wine based on labels. I do it. Everyone does. The real catch though is loving what’s in the bottle. If you buy it again then there is really something there. Giant corporations are genius at designing flashy labels to catch your attention and what’s in those bottles isn’t always the best quality. Be discriminating and buy from family-owned authentic wineries. Read the “shelf-talkers” that we hang under wines on the retail racks and look for our Provisions logo at the bottom. It takes a lot of time to produce those and we want to give everyone as much info as possible to help them make a good decision.
-What's your guilty pleasure drink?
Kala: We have recently been able to savor some 1907 Madeira and I feel bad that something so old is being consumed and gone forever. But not really that bad!
Scott: I have none – I have very little guilt even though I was raised Catholic
-Your favorite restaurant in Oklahoma? and then in The US? And what should we order on the menu at those?
Scott: Right now, I’m in love with CHAE in OKC and everything they put out is crazy good but the oxtail noodle soup is mind-blowing. Tulsa is pretty amazing at the moment too. Loving all the energy in both cities right now. Nationally – San Fran is just the best. Tartine is extremely important to our family. We plan our whole trips around bringing home the bread. The dungeness on glass noodles at The Slanted Door is a favorite dish. Hog Island Oyster Bar in Napa at the Oxbow is always a top priority and we also love to visit the oyster farm when we can. Seattle’s Den Tai Fung’s juicy dumplings are worth the wait and The Walrus and the Carpenter is everything you hoped for.
-Having a business is hard sometimes because it never turns off really. How do you turn it off and wind down?
Since we are in the first year of start-up, we kinda don’t. But we do often have a glass of wine in the evenings while we work! We have this saying that if you stop, you fail. When we are not at the office/warehouse, on a sales call, cooking/cleaning/laundry or taking care of Lily, we are working on our laptops. We say we will have time to relax later if we put in the work now to ensure a successful business and future for our family. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX said,You just have to put in 80- to 100-hour weeks every week. If other people are putting in 40-hour work weeks and you are putting in 100-hour work weeks, then, even if you're doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.
-Currently listening to?
We love jazz music and keep that on rotation. We love classical music as well.
-I sorta feel like Chardonnay has gotten a bad rap.... like it’s the bad grape??! What do you guys think about Chardonnay? Is it just misunderstood?
Perhaps. People still drink a lot of big, buttery style chards and that’s ok. For the most part though the industry has turned to a fresher, livelier, style that is better with food. Really just better to drink too!
-Love these wine dinners I am seeing around town with all the great people you are bringing in!! Can you release any sneak peaks on events to put in our calendars now for the remainder of the year?!
The best way to keep up with us and our events is on social media.Facebook, and instagram. There is an upcoming event link on our FB page. We do have some amazing events coming up: Acclaimed Sommelier and Winemaker Eric Railsback of Lieu Dit and Mason Pacific is bringing his James Beard-awarded Chef and front of house crew and will be taking over Lucky’s to do a “pop up” on Saturday June 25th and at The Metro in OKC the next night Sunday June 25th. More details to come on that.
-And lastly you employ reps to help you ?! What advice can you give to that young person wanting to get into this business?
Kala: I don’t think we have ever hired a sales rep without restaurant experience. We both spent years working in restaurants and Scott also worked part time a long long time ago at Ranch Acres Wine & Spirits retail store which was a great place to learn about wine and learn about the industry. We have told our daughter that even if we were to win the lottery, she would still have to wait tables. We feel like it is an essential life skill to master and understand. It gives you empathy for the service industry forever. The next step would be to work on increasing your wine knowledge every chance you get. Then find out who imports your favorite beverage and contact them with your resume in hand and enthusiasm to spare!
Now are we all thirsty or what?! I sure am and being on The South Beach diet right now wine is not permitted so you all go hunt these treasures down and have a nice glass of something delicious for me! P.S. Next time you are in your fave establishment be sure to ask for their amazing wines . And shop their wines at your fave liquor store in town!
Keep making Oklahoma great Scott and Kala! Thank you for quenching my thirst and making wine my fave thing in the world right now!!
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