March 31, 2022
NoMad, Manhattan is home to a number of successful, growing businesses across a variety of industries. We are speaking with them about how they approach business, what fuels their success, and what they see as they look to the future. Business owners share thoughts and insights on their winning approach.
Jake Halper and Amanda Miller-Burg, business partners of Field Blend Selections are at the forefront of Polyculture with their unique approach to the wine business.
Field Blend Selections
Field Blend Selections imports and distributes wines from around the world. Founded in 2017 by Jake Halper, it is based in the St. James Building in NoMad, New York. They celebrate a tried and true agricultural tradition, polyculture, and aim to provide compelling diversity in their offerings. Many of the grapes come from working farms that grow a variety of vines co-planted with other crops, and also have sheep, chickens, and cattle. Polyculture is one of the best methods for enriching soil and reducing disease. Therefore, there is less need for herbicides or pesticides, and the grapes produced are naturally healthier. Field Blend Selections makes it a point to work with organic producers and emphasize diversity.
Keys to Success: the Ability to Pivot & Persistence
Halper believes the ability to pivot and persistence are two of the key attributes that contribute to Field Blend Selections’ current success. Field Blend Selections sells to restaurants and retailers. In 2020, during the beginning of the pandemic, half of their clients were shut down. This meant Field Blend needed to pivot and focus on expanding its customer base. Halper points out that during this time, wine-to-go was a lifeline for restaurants that did remain open (though currently, wine-to-go is no longer allowed).
As retailers and restaurants reopened, Field Blend made a concerted effort to send or drop off samples in person. Their pivot to an expanded customer base combined with personal persistence in servicing their clients as the world around them shifted, has paid off.
Trends in Business and Evolving Client Demand
Miller-Burg and Halper discussed trends in their business and how they are meeting the evolving demands of clients.
Organic Wines with Minimal Additives
Clients are paying more attention to what’s in their beverages and are looking for wines that are organic with minimal additives. This speaks to clients’ heightened desire for, and the pursuit of health in all things. While this mindset is not new to Field Blend Selections, they are well positioned to deliver on this growing demand.
Lower Alcohol and No Alcohol Wines
Lower and no alcohol wines and beverages are also becoming more popular. This meets demands for a possibly healthier, more moderate approach to drinking, without sacrificing the enjoyment or appreciation of a good bottle of wine.
More Adventurous Wine Choices
Although the pandemic brought significant challenges, one of its silver linings is that people became more adventurous in trying new wines. Unable to travel to new places, they explored varietals and vintners that were more exotic and less well known.
As more wines are being made in different parts for the world, Field Blend Selections has explored beyond the usual go-to regions (think France, Spain, Italy…) and offers distinctive wines from Soviet Georgia and Slovenia. They represent wines from Germany, Austria, Chile, Portugal, the United States, and more – and also offer wines made from lesser-known varieties.
Miller-Burg observed that at the height of the pandemic, some people wanted the familiar, but others wanted to experiment with what’s new. Field Blends offered both. And because people weren’t spending money on travel, they began spending more on wine.
What’s Next for Field Blend Selections?
Like many, Halper doesn’t love Zoom. However, it has allowed them to do more outreach with growers. They look forward to traveling to meet growers in person again – exploring new wines in Germany, attending a wine fair in France, venturing through Italy, and visiting several of the newer wine-growing regions that are cropping up around the world.
Business at Home in NoMad
When Field Blend Selections began, Halper worked from home. Soon it was apparent he needed an office and he started his search for a place to set up business. He explored WeWork type situations and an assortment of neighborhoods, but many “just weren’t my vibe,” says Halper.
Before long, it became clear that Field Blend Selections’ business felt at home in NoMad. “I loved the Madison Square Park area and remember when the stretch was a little edgier, which I liked.”
The office he found in Kew Management’s historic St. James Building was private and the right price. The history of the building and its surrounding neighborhood were appealing. Miller-Burg points out it’s convenient to access from all parts of the city, and several subway lines are close by. Customers can easily come for in-person tastings, which are essential in the wine business.
Miller-Burg and Halper host intimate tastings in their office and will use Kew’s conference rooms for larger tastings. Since moving in, their business has grown and they have taken over the space next door.
Favorite Part of NoMad: Madison Square Park
Without hesitation, both declared Madison Square Park as their favorite part of NoMad. “Plus, Rizzoli bookstore is downstairs.” They both appreciate the neighborhood’s growing emphasis on outdoor space, as the NoMad Piazza has come into being in recent years.
Miller-Burg elaborates on the appeal of NoMad, “Jake lives north of the office and I come from the south. He sees all of the new construction that’s happening in NoMad, which is exciting, while on my ‘morning commute’ I see the Flatiron, the Empire State Building, I walk by Eataly – what so many tourists come to New York to see.”