CAMERON HUGHES sees nothing romantic about being a winemaker. Having a rolling vineyard to call his own? Taking that first sip of a homegrown pinot noir? He can live without it, thanks — and he does, even as he has become a prominent name in the California wine industry.
Mr. Hughes, who started by selling wine out of the back of his Volvo station wagon in 2002, is a wine négociant, or wine merchant. He does not own a vineyard or a winery. Instead, from offices in San Francisco and Calistoga, Calif., he outsources all the labor that goes into making a bottle of wine — growing the grapes, crushing and fermenting them, and other steps in the process — to others.
“All we do is bring the barrels,” Mr. Hughes said.
Actually, he does a bit more than that. During the worldwide wine glut of the recent recession, his company, Cameron Hughes Wine, flourished as he bought up excess wine from wineries, repackaged it under his own label and sold it at a discount.
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