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Spotlight: Cameron Hughes

20 comments

With this post, I’m introducing a new, occasional feature to my blog: Spotlight. I’ll be writing about interesting people doing interesting things in the wine and food biz. If you’d like to be spotlighted, or know someone who should be, let me know.

I’ve been a fan of Cameron Hughes’ wines for years. An admirer of the man, too. He took a business model–the negociant–that was far from a proven success, and made it work. I’ve given a lot of Best Buys to Cameron Hughes wines over the years. His Cabernets and Bordeaux blends are some of the best values on the market.

• age — 40.
• company name — Cameron Hughes Wine
• title
— CEO
• founding date — 2001
• HQ — San Francisco
• # employees — 25 + 400 contractors
• total case sales — approx. 400,000
• rank, U.S. wine companies – #31
• # SKUs produced – over 100 this year
• why so many? — The idea is to preserve the initial identity and quality of the source wine.
• most expensive wine – $28 [Stags Leap and Napa Valley Cabs]
• cheapest wine — $5 Romanian
• how many countries do you make wine from? — At least ten
• do you level off or keep growing? – Keep growing. Sky’s the limit.
• your background in a few sentences – Started as cellar rat at Corbett Canyon, went into marketing and sales with The Wine Group. Worked at an importer for a year, then started this company.
• born – Modesto. Dad worked for Gallo, then Wine Group.
• describe Cameron Hughes Wine in 1 sentence – We’re a virtual winery and negociant company.
• how find/select your wines? — Through turning stones over. Brokers bring us deals, and we actively go out and try to acquire partnerships and wines. And people come to us.
• are there confidentiality agreements? — Yes. At the very high end, a few folks require those. Folks sell bulk wine for a variety of reasons. For example, we get between 13,000-16,000 gallons of wine blended for us from a super-super high end Napa producer I can’t identify. They’re component wines that didn’t fit into their blends. So they purpose-build blend it for us, not just dregs.
• what do you drink at home – Everything. I buy lots of different wines from lots of retailers all the time. I’m constantly trying new and different things. I’m very eclectic.
• hobbies? — Big skier. Newbie triathlete. Rehabbing my shoulder so I can swim.

  1. raley roger says:

    Love these wines. Always a great value. This guy is balls to the wall legit.

  2. Raley brother, that is one sweet-ass quote. A little too racy for the splash page of our website but it might find its way on the site some other way :-)

  3. raley roger says:

    Hey, man, cool to hear from you. I’m a big fan. Love that little 265 Russian River Pinot. I think there are some stems in there, right? Just layered, nuanced and pretty as all get out. Sick little wine that I can’t get enough of at 18 bucks. When are you going to be at Bev Mo, brother? Come on….give Walnut Creek some love.

  4. I work for a major retailer and I love the Cameron Hughes wines. Lots to choose from every year and nearly every SKU is a home run for the price. Some of my suppliers resent that I push his wines out in front of customers more than theirs, but these wines over-deliver for the price and with times and the economy being what they are, these wines just make sense.

    Great new feature, Steve. You keep giving us more reasons to read your blog. Keep up the good work.

    For the next Spotlight session, I’d like to recommend Daryl Sattui. Now, that would be interesting.

  5. Really like the Cameron Hughes Napa Valley cabs, neat to see him written up here.

  6. Raley – I wish BevMo would carry our wines but, unfortunately, its not up to me.

    I would assume stem inclusion on Lot 265 but we do not always get a chance to have all the details on how a particular wine is made. Sometimes its grab it and go to be honest.

    As for Walnut Creek love, you guys get plenty with both Danville and Concord Costco’s right around the corner :-)

  7. eric d'arcy says:

    Hell I sell Cameron Hughes Wine with confidence and joy! Loved them before I started selling them! So many fans out there wanting to know when the next Lot number is coming and how do they get previous favorite Lot’s that have sold out in club stores! When are you arriving in beautiful San Diego Cameron?? You know how many Costco’s are down here?!! Almost as many as Lot #’s ha!!

  8. Wake up there is no Cameron Hughes

  9. Dear J.V., thanks. It’s comments like yours that keep me going.

  10. Cameron,
    Keep up the great work! Love your wines, hope to have you in Colorado again soon.

  11. Great post, looking forward to more of your Spotlight features.

  12. Jim Vandegriff says:

    I went to a neighborhood dinner party the other night. People brought various bottles of wine, and my first inclination when spotting a Cameron Hughes wine was to try it first of all the wines there. It was clear to me as a consumer that I have learned to trust the brand.

  13. I’m a wine retailer in Ohio and the Cam Hughes people haven’t been too friendly out here — kinda snotty, in fact. But I’ve liked (and sold) many of the Lot series and REALLY like the new California series Chard.

  14. Cameron and team are doing a big favor for wine drinkers who are more concerned about quality to price ratio than they are about brand and bling.

    I have introduced (i.e. sold) wine to them in the past. When I first contacted them I was struck by, and drawn to, how unpretentious their model is. Great people to work with who are uncompromising when it comes to quality!

  15. CH is a Cool Cat and one helluva Major Dude. Paz, amor y buena suerte!!!

  16. HI Deb,

    Happy to help you in Ohio. Maybe ping me at cameron.hughes@chwine.com as I would like to learn more about your disappointing experience with us and see if I can’t help.

    Cameron

  17. CH is great. I thought I hated Chardonnay until I popped open Lot 145. I’ll definitely be recommending it in the store!

  18. Great “Spotlight”, Steve! Keep them coming.

    Cameron, thanks for paving the road and opening up people’s minds to different business models.
    It happens in every other business and wine shouldn’t be any exception.

    Cheers to you!

    Gil

  19. I live and blend wines across the street from the old Corbett Canyon facility and we strive to achieve the yummy factor that Cameron gets in his crazy cuvees.

    Cheers to Deb Lapmardo and the great selections they have in their kill shop!

  20. I LOVE Cameron Hughes wine! I’ve been drinking it for 4 years, selling it at Costco and Sam’s for 3 1/2 years, and have also ordered many times off the website (chwine.com). Cameron is a GREAT guy… and a very fun ‘boss’! Thanks, Steve, for the spotlight… great blog!!

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