Behind every wine is a person and a philosophy.
Craftsmanship, passion and ethics are our highest priorities, and we work tirelessly to find producers who share these values. Artistry and philosophy come second. After fifteen years of hands-on practice with winemaking and viticulture and many more years of high-end restaurant experience, we have strong opinions about what constitutes good wine, good relationships, and good business. Needless to say, our expectations of the producers we choose to represent are high.
Since we started importing in 2010, every year we visit the vineyards and cellars of each of our producers numerous times to better understand their wines and practices. Despite being overwhelmingly optimistic about life, we remain steadfastly vigilant when making our selections, always alert for the red flags that may go unnoticed by those lacking experience in viticulture and winemaking.
We are very particular about the way we choose to live. Primarily, we work to insure that what we put in our bodies be as natural and nutritious as possible. That includes the wine we drink, which must be made with minimal additives to preserve both the sense of terroir and the health of the wine. Indeed, we’ve witnessed firsthand the things dosed into commercial wines, and we don’t want those things in our bodies or anyone else’s.
While the bulk of our producers are certified from the European Union as Organic or Biodynamic, certification is not a prerequisite for us when working with a winery. Our requirement is that vintners be rigorous in and mindful of their practices, willing to compromise their philosophies only in the most dire of situations. Indeed, many of our best producers are not certified in any way with regard to their farming, yet to set foot in their vineyards is to observe as robust a vitality, if not moreso, as many a vineyard that bears certification. Dogma can at times be an inhibitor of intuition, and we believe the greatest wines are made by exceptional intuition.
Our logo? It’s an artistic rendering of a photograph taken of my father, Ed Vance, when he was a professional hunter in the 1960’s and 70’s, working privately and with the state of California to track animals for research. It carries no direct philosophical implications—we just like it.
We hope you will enjoy joining us on our journey while we bring to your table not only great, honest, soulful wines, but also the stories of their makers—the people who bleed, sweat and toil to make these wines that bring more beauty to our daily lives.
Our Cast of Characters
Owner – President
“In 1995, at age 19, my obsession with wine went from zero to warp speed. Ever since then, I have lived, drank, breathed, obsessed and spent nearly every dollar I’ve made on it. Its infinite layers of depth is in every aspect of life, from mankind’s philosophy to the very nature of the earth, the universe and everything in-between. In wine I have found my academia, philosophy and calling. It’s what I do.
“I am a Montana boy who is the co-founder, president, traveller, curator, and principal writer and photographer, for The Source Imports.”
Owner – General Manager
“Growing up on a small farm in the rural countryside outside of Portland, Oregon began shaping what unknowingly would be a professional path back to the farm and the garden. Those days planted a proverbial seed that would later be watered by my thirst for understanding the world of wine.
“Over the past 22 years, wine has taken me on a voyage of intrigue, relevance, passion and insight. What was only a beverage turned into a history lesson, treasure hunt, curriculum and, finally, an integral part of my life.
“After a longstanding high-end restaurant career, I shaped a preference to wines that draw emotional reactions and deeper connection to the place in which they originate.”
“After multiple visits to wine regions around the world and numerous jobs as a sommelier, I knew I had to become more connected with the land, culture and people behind the wine. I got my start in the wine business as a sommelier in Montreal at a restaurant called L’Orignal. From there I moved to Los Angeles and continued my work as a sommelier at Osteria Mozza and Republique, and in New York at The Nomad Hotel.
“In 2015, the guys at The Source sent me a message about an opportunity, and the rest is history. I had no idea how much work is involved—it’s been a whirlwind, behind the scenes adventure into importing and selling wine. After my first four years with the company, life has led me back to New York to begin a new chapter for The Source.”
After attending culinary school at Kendall College of Culinary Arts, JD cooked at restaurants in his hometown of Chicago, and Chiang Mai, Thailand. While cooking at one of Chicago’s top spots, Schwa, he cut his teeth as a wine buyer and focused on pairing wine with the food he cooked. After the restaurant years, he moved to Los Angeles and worked at Whole Foods selecting new wines and distributors to be sold region-wide. His last adventure before joining The Source was at Lou Wine Shop and Tastings with Lou Amdur, where he opened the store and helped manage and buy wine for the shop in its first three years.
The storied 2001 vintage of German Riesling was JD’s ground zero in the wine business. The introduction came from a good friend and German Riesling still holds top position for him, and who can blame him! After Riesling, it’s Burgundy, the Loire Valley, Galicia, Jerez and Piedmont that are most commonly found at his table. JD is eternally committed to the arts; music and cooking were his first passions, and as a wine professional he has become one of the subject’s most devoted students.
Victoria Diggs (Vance)
Wholesale General Manager
Yes, we are also a family business. Victoria grew up in Montana with her older brother, Ted. Always the closest of our siblings, little did they know they would be spending their working life together as well.
Victoria is the superstar behind the scenes of everything we do. Everyone in within The Source leans on her every day and would agree that we would only be half the company (at best!) we are without her. The only thing she doesn’t do for us is sales, otherwise, we would probably sell twice as much as we do.
Online Sales and Marketing, Graphic and Web Design
Andrea is our website designer and architect. Without her expertise and commitment, our website would likely not exist.
In 2002, Andrea moved from Santiago, Chile, to California finish her college studies at UCSB. She fell in love with Santa Barbara and ended up running into Ted. Today, he continues to make her life more difficult (he is her husband) and spends a lot of her time on the road with Ted.
Vance Wine Selections
The majority of our producers have been procured directly. However, there are many great contributors to our privileged selection of wines. This section is for them.
Becky Wasserman Selections
Suffice it to say, if you know Burgundy, you have probably heard of the Becky Wasserman (in green). They are responsible for the majority of our beautiful Burgundy selections.
Sariya Jarasviroj Brown
Sariya started Circo Vino almost at the same time we started The Source. She’s a longtime expert in Austrian wines and has procured the majority of our Austrian selections.
Jérôme, our resident frog, has been in the wine selling business for 15 years. He recently joined our team and contributes a collection of French wines to our roster.
Nico, a former famous sommelier of Hotel le Meurice and Louix XV, in France, started a new career finding and distributing many previously undiscovered rising stars. He has been a great source for us for exciting new and established producers.
Sonya Behar-Castel and Pierre Castel
La Fabrique, the home of Pierre (middle) and Sonya (right), has become the staging ground for every trip that we have made in Europe. With each visit all are welcomed with excessive amounts of outrageously delicious food, second-hand smoke, forbidden spirits and our own beautiful Provençal room on their 16 hectare farm, in Graveson. They ask nothing of us except, “don’t wait too long to come back.”
To many, we owe a lot. To Pierre and Sonya, The Source owes the most.