Today we’d like to introduce you to Cristobal Toral
Hi Cristobal, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I arrived to the US in 2002 with a tennis scholarship and played at the University of Toledo in Ohio. I graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor in BA and an MBA from the same University. In 2009 I moved to Florida and started a very exciting and challenging wine project with the Achurra family from my native country, Chile. The winery was in the process to expand distribution in the US and I wanted to continue representing Chile, the only difference was that instead of a tennis racket I would have a bottle of wine!! Today our US office represents the 3rd largest winery from Chile in the US exporting well over $5.5 million dollars. In addition, in the last 3 years we opened 2 new offices in Mexico and Central America. My favorite quote comes from Jim Collins “Great vision without great people is irrelevant”. The credits should go to the Achurra family, our great team in Chile and our US office.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been an incredible learning experience for our US office and the winery. We started learning from small independent retailers and then continue moving to bigger retailers. Although we continue servicing small independent retailers our ultimate challenge is to position our wines in as many family tables in the US. The US is an incredible huge market and it is very easy to get caught in small details that don’t add value to the final product. The biggest challenges and also opportunities we have encountered are the changing trends in the industry. The wine industry has moved in cycles from dry wines to sweeter wines, from standard 750ml to cans, etc. What we have learned is that flexibility and understanding what the final customer is looking makes the difference in this super competitive market.
As you know, we’re big fans of Sur Valles Wine Group. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Our French Technical Director, Benoit Fitte has been producing wines with the Achurra family for the last 20 years. Benoit has built an incredible reputation including multiple 90+ rated wines. Also, our wines come from a family owned winery with 60+ years of experience. In addition, our most awarded and well-known brand is “Toro de Piedra” although we have multiple brands experiencing huge demand in the US market. My main focus is to continue opening doors and markets for our winery. Our offer is simple, great and affordable wines for an incredible changing environment!!
What do you like and dislike about the city?
Houston is an incredible and vibrant multicultural city. We love the city since it allows us to introduce new products, packages and formats. Also, it is a huge showcase for other markets in the US and Latin America. In addition, the Chilean Government recently opened a commercial office in Houston. Emilio Armstrong, the Commercial Manager has been a great ambassador for Chile and our wines in Houston!!!