Hospitality is my biggest "why." I get to share not only the wines I sell but the stories behind them.

Meet Alyssa Wolf from Red Wolf Imports

by Pooja Tiwari

Alyssa Wolf founded Red Wolf Imports in 2015 after a trip to South Africa. The Red Wolf wine portfolio consists of underrepresented wine regions, such as those in Portugal and South Africa. DCANTER customers have loved several wines from her portfolio, and we've invited her to share some of her favorites with us at this weekend's tasting (Sat. March 30th 12-4pm).  Let's get to know Alyssa a bit and learn more about her founding story.

DCANTER: Which region do you wish you work with but don’t yet - why?

Alyssa: The Loire Valley in France. I'm a Chenin geek so I love Loire wines. When Red Wolf got started, I knew we wanted to focus on underrepresented wine regions, and with so many established importers bringing in French wines, France then didn't make sense. I'm dedicated to developing a deep understanding of not only the regions I import from, but the people, places, culture, food, etc behind the wines, and I've never been to the Loire. I started with South Africa after a trip to the winelands. I saw what was going on in the South African wine industry and realized that US wine drinkers were missing out. I've never been to Loire but see this as an underrepresented French wine region. Maybe someday!  


DCANTER: How did you pick Portugal?

Alyssa: This again goes back to my focus on underrepresented regions. In 2019 when I decided to expand my book beyond South Africa, I started looking into a few areas: Australia, South America, Greece, and Portugal. I was starting to lean towards Portugal and almost booked a flight, but the flight times weren't lining up. [T]rip planning went on hold. At the end of the year I received an email. ViniPorgual was sponsoring a buyers trip to Portugal in March of 2020! It seemed like the universe was sending me a sign; plus this would save my small biz quite a bit of money.  

I almost didn't go on the trip. I was nervous to travel, fearful I'd get stuck abroad [due to Covid], but went for it. I flew out on Saturday, March 7th. On Sunday, March 8th I met Micaela Fonseca, of Quinta do Ferro, who I work with today. [On] Tuesday, March 10th I visited Quinta da Lixa with the group, and they now represent some of my top sales. [On] Wednesday, March 11 I met Filipe from Quinta da Devesa, fell in love with their tawny Ports, and hoped the winery would be willing to work with a small company like mine. They were, and I now sell those Ports in the D.C. area, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. 

March 11 turned out to be my last day; [t]he next week everything shut down. I wasn't sure it was a good time to bring on a bunch of new wines, but [I] went ahead and did it anyway. I started selling Portuguese wine that summer, and I now work with five Portuguese wineries and sell about 20 SKUs.


DCANTER: What's your favorite wine when you're not drinking yours?

Alyssa: I'm quite happy to drink Champagne all the time and am always willing to take Champagne donations.


DCANTER: What is one of the most rewarding things about your job?

Alyssa: Hospitality is my biggest "why." I get to share not only the wines I sell but the stories behind them. I've been able to be behind the scenes, taste rare wines, travel both domestically and abroad, and call it work...The bottom line is I get to share something that hopefully brings people a moment of joy in their otherwise busy, hectic day --- [a] moment to slow down and enjoy.


DCANTER: What keeps you motivated? Personally or professionally.

Alyssa: Personally, regular exercise and movement. Exercise is one routine I stick to no matter what, and it's no surprise that I always feel better after working out. Professionally, it all goes back to my "why." My job allows me to bring joy to the wine consumer and to help my wineries grow and gain traction in the US market. 

And wine, wine also motivates me.


DCANTER: Best advice or quote you heard or received?

Alyssa: "You have to lift your foot to kick some ass." Jen Sincero, author "You are a Badass."


Q: Chocolate or cheese?

A: Cheese, every time.