Triton Networking kicks off the holidays at Ocean Wine & Spirits in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 6, where a veteran yacht provisioner has joined a new shop. Join us on this first Wednesday of the month to catch up with wine specialist Fernando Jewett, meet shop owner Monty Lalwani, and discover Ocean Wine & Spirits.
Until then, learn more about the shop and how the duo plan to make yacht provisioning easier.
Q. Tell us about Ocean Wine & Spirits.
ML: We’re a boutique fine wine and spirits store. We have three locations in Fort Lauderdale, and our newest location on East Las Olas Boulevard caters to the yachting community.
We carry everything you would expect, from $5 bottles of wine to $500 bottles. People are surprised when they come into the store that it’s small but so well stocked.
We have 100 craft beers that you can mix and match to make your own six pack, and $2,000 bottles of spirits.
Q. Monty, what’s your background?
ML: My family’s business is a tourist shop in that corner off A1A and Sunrise Boulevard that my parents opened in 1975. My father had another building and I wanted to start a business, something different, something that was mine. So I opened a liquor store. And we offered delivery from Day 1 because there’s no parking there.
Q. The liquor business can’t be easy. Why open in this sector? Why target yachting?
ML: It wasn’t easy, in the beginning. My customers and sales reps taught me, and I learned every day. Having great reps and customers has made a difference.
I knew I wanted to expand into the yachting sector, and Fernando was the perfect fit. He has 11 years worth of a following. He already knows his customers’ palette. Because of his wine knowledge, if we don’t have a wine his customer likes, he can recommend a similar wine.
Q. Fernando, what’s your background?
FJ: I started working with Crown Wine & Spirits in 2004, then joined Total Wine & Spirits as the wine manager in 2006 when they had just opened the store on 17th Street. They didn’t have a yacht provisioning program, but my customers were asking for it.
Crown had 1,500 wines; Total had 5,000. But Crown recruited me back, and I stayed there for 10 and a half years on the yacht provisioning side and wine education.
Q. Isn’t it more prestigious to work for a big corporate store?
FJ: It can be, in a regular wine career, but focusing on the yachting sector, being with a smaller store helps me service my customers faster. With Monty, I knew I’d have control, no hurdles, no roadblocks. It’s about service, selection and accuracy in yachting.
Q. How can your experience help yachts?
ML: Just by asking the chief stew a few questions, we can set them up for success. If they can find out what the chef will be feeding the owner and guests, Fernando can offer some great pairings.
FJ: That’s my ideal customer, someone who comes in and says here’s what we’re serving, can you recommend a wine? They don’t have to know what they want when they come in. Most of these yachts have amazing chefs, so we can provide amazing wines to go with that amazing food. I can do the whole cellar for them if they know the owner’s or guest’s palette.
Q. How are you different from other liquor stores or provisioners?
ML: We will honestly try to the end of the earth to find what they want. And if we can’t locate what a yacht needs, we’ll say so, and we’ll offer five options to meet their needs.
Also, we deliver free to every marina in town, and there’s no minimum or maximum order. If the call comes in from a boat or marina, it’s free delivery. What I would like to suggest for every yacht is to let us take care of all the beverages, from water to liquor. Anything that has to do with liquid, leave it to us. We don’t charge a fee, just for the product we sell. But we can put it all together for everything they need.
If they have a list, we can go out and find everything they need, including rare wines and spirits. We’re really good at locating hard-to-find wines and vintages.
Join us on Dec. 6 from 6-8 p.m. at 2901 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale (33316). No RSVP necessary. Just bring business cards and a holiday spirit to enjoy yachting camaraderie and casual networking.