Mark Cervellero: Greatness Begins With A Humble Journey

Posted: Aug 12, 2020

This is part one of a two-part introduction to a dear colleague. Part two will contain expert advice on trends and strategies from this consummate professional. I have had the honor of working closely with Mr. Mark Cervellero, one of our industry’s top professionals. His trajectory began, like so many of ours, by connecting back to the aspiration to serve in the classic environment of Haut cuisine. Mr. Mark  Cervellero began his career in one of the most high profile and unique dining environments of its time: the dining rooms of the Ritz Carlton in Chicago, Illinois. Wine service there was a top priority, and Mr. Cervellero took on the challenge of mastering the Ritz’s expansive wine library. The library consisted of the complete collection of all the first growths, and an elusive bottle 1988 Montrachet on sale in the late 1990s at 1800.00 US. When Mark first saw this great white burgundy, he wondered, who would buy something like this? would he ever be able to sell this to a patron? Indeed, the wine cellar at the Ritzcontained the great selections one would expect from one of the key destination hotels of the time. During his eventful year at the Ritz, Mark honed his skills in the service and sales of fine wine, and his passion for the subject increased. He began to establish his confidence as demonstrated by the fact that he was able to sell items like a ‘61 La Tour to a guest who loved Mark’s manner so much that he set aside a glass for him. That glass would be the catalyst that would propel young Mark to the world of fine wine sales and marketing. On the evening he received that fateful gift while enjoying that great glass of ’61 Bordeaux, he made the decision to move from the hospitality industry into the wine manufacturing world. He would soon land a position with a prominent international wine importer. On his last day of work at the Ritz, Mark applied some of the most important concepts people in sales need to understand. While serving an affluent wine consumer with whom he had built a relationship, the guest asked Mark to recommend a wine to enjoy with his dinner.

Mark recommended that ‘88 Montrachet he had once thought no one would ever purchase and in a crowning achievement, he did what is fundamental to the success of anyone in sales. His experience at the Ritz taught him the importance of establishing strong guest relationships and having expert knowledge of the product. These two key skills allowed Mark to closed that 1800.00 sale and continued on to become a leader in some of the top wine companies in the world.

Enjoy Part 2 in tomorrow's wine column.

By Luis Torres
August 12, 2020

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