Nicholas Hirons is the founder and owner of Terra Firma Wines in Canada. Terra Firma Wines is a Toronto, Ontario agency representing World Class beverage producers from across the globe. We spoke with Nicholas about representing overseas wineries in Canada and what he is looking to gain from the “Buyer Meets Iberian Cellar” Workshop Feb 23 – 25 in Barcelona.
When was Terra Firma Wines founded? What was the impetus behind starting the business? Terra Firma was started in 2006. It was originally intended to be a secondary agency to compliment the one that I was working for at the time. Because of certain restrictions placed upon agencies in Ontario (which is run by the world’s largest liquor monopoly, the LCBO) I was looking for a way to further opportunities within the confines of the system. Over time, the wineries that I had chosen to represent started to get some good traction, so at that time I left working for the other company to focus solely on Terra Firma. I grew up in a family that has been in the wine business since 1979, so I have always had a good understanding of the unique qualities that wine possesses.
What is your specialty? The strongest segment of our portfolio is France, followed by Australia. In terms of a price band, our core business is between $15-$40 CDN retail (€11 – €30).
How do you decide what cellars you will represent? It is a two step process. Firstly, I have to like the wine. If I won’t serve it on my own dinner table then I will not have the passion to help sell it to the buyers here in Ontario. Secondly, I believe that there needs to be a certain chemistry between the supplier and agent. I believe that a strong relationship based upon mutual understanding and sharing the same goals is essential to a long term strategy of success. Over time I have found that quite a few suppliers that I have worked with have become good personal friends.
What types of wines do you like personally? Right now I am quite partial to cooler climate Australia (Yarra Valley, Margaret River) and some of the newer appellations coming from the Languedoc. Being born in England (but raised in Canada) I can never turn down a glass of good Port!
How would you compare the workshop methodology at Wine Pleasures to a large-scale wine trade fair? What are the strengths and weaknesses of both? I definitely prefer the smaller format shows. It allows for more focus and is much more personal in nature. While shows like Vinexpo are good in that you can see a large amount of suppliers in one place, I find it can be overwhelming. Vinitaly is somewhat better, in that you are focused solely on Italian wines, but as I said, I prefer a more intimate, one on one approach to meetings.