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Executive Biography

Victor Owen Schwartz,

Founder and President, VOS Selections

Similar to Warren Buffet or Vogue’s Anna Wintour, VOS Selections founder and president Victor Owen Schwartz “edits” a collection of what he believes to be the world’s superlative wines, spirits and sakes from often undiscovered producers. Unlike volume driven importers that choose product offerings based on critics’ scores, VOS Selections is a portfolio driven business. Victor’s philosophy emphasizes procuring the wines based upon taste, authenticity, and before they are scored. “The true measure of a great wine, whether it’s $10 or $100, is how it complements the food on the table,” notes Victor.

“Victor is a visionary purveyor of great tastes—a pioneer importer with a polymath palate who, for the better part of two decades, has maintained a purist’s dedication to wines that are deliciously different and differently delicious. The magic of his selections is that they tend to open both the mind and mouth to flavors, textures and sensations rarely found in the quotidian world of grapes and gulps.”
Joshua A. Wesson, Senior Director of Wine, Beer, and Spirits at The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company; Founder, Best Cellars

Like a master sommelier’s expertise in pairing dishes to wines, for Victor food and wine go hand in hand: dinners prepared at home for friends and family present myriad opportunities for tasting a variety of wines with different foods, flavors and courses – even from different glassware, enhancing everyone’s enjoyment. His culinary talents complement his spot-on palate for creating enticing flavorful combinations.

Victor’s path to success and the creation of VOS Selections was paved in travel, a dare-to-dream philosophy, and quite a bit of fun. In 1986, he left the San Francisco banking industry to work on a wine catalogue project in Napa, when the California wine industry was in its infancy. He left San Francisco for New York City, securing a position as Life Café’s manager, while supplementing his income at Park Avenue Liquors.

A subsequent move to the East Village combined with a new part-time position at Astor Wines exposed Victor to how wine is best a partner with food. Staffers would participate in tastings, and Victor’s confidence in his palate emerged: the team usually agreed on what was delicious, and this consensus inspired Victor to revel in the world of wines.

He sent a letter to Steven Spurrier, who invited him to Paris with the promise of a job at his renowned wine shop-cum-bookstore Les Caves de la Madeleine. Victor’s goal was to immerse himself in French food, culture, and language; he subletted his rent-stabilized apartment for six months to a sound engineer for The Cars, funding his adventure.

Upon his arrival, M. Spurrier told Victor that to really immerse himself in everything French, living in Paris was only a partial contributory experience, encouraging him to visit the actual vineyards. Victor drove to the Rhône region, knocking on doors of wineries, and was warmly welcomed by the proprietors who generously gave of their time and experience, letting him wander and explore the vineyards with the farmers.

Victor’s return to New York City was heralded when several of the wines (graciously provided by his hosts) entered in a tasting won glowing reviews from attending press. Winning was the impetus for raising $35,000 to purchase his first container of French wines for distribution, launching his calling as the New York region’s most selective importer and distributor.

Like the wines he distributes, VOS Selections has grown organically, now with 16 employees, 500 portfolio selections created by over 220 winemakers of nearly 100 varietals in 17 countries: while his reputation was built on the best from traditional old world wine regions, VOS Selections features wines from far-flung locales like Patagonia and Morocco. Notably, Victor was the first American fine wine importer of Hungary’s Tokaji wines and Japanese sakes.

Victor is a graduate of Cornell University. He and his wife Cushla, an artist, their daughters Chloë and Tallulah, reside on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Company Profile

Founded by Victor Owen Schwartz in 1988, VOS Selections is a New York City-based importer and distributor of high-quality hand-crafted wines, best-in-show spirits and superb sakes. Small is beautiful: VOS takes pride in discovering singular products in today's mass-produced world.

“What is unique about VOS is Victor Schwartz, himself, passionate about wine and excited to find new and small producers from obscure, out of the way places. He enjoys the exotic, and hires his staff with similar interests.”
Roger Dagorn, Master Sommelier

For over 28 years, New York and New Jersey’s hottest restaurants and leading wine shops continually rely on VOS Selections to provide artisanal wines that make their cellars the best-stocked in the world. The VOS staff’s expertise is often called in to customize wine and beverage merchandising programs for each restaurant and retailer. Its comprehensive global portfolio of approximately 500 wines from 220 artisanal winemakers in 70 regions across 17 countries includes celebrated estate-bottled wines from familiar regions like the Rhône Valley, as well as cutting-edge wines from unexpected appellations, including Cabardes and the Jura. While the company’s reputation was built on the best offerings from traditional old world wine regions, VOS Selections now features wines from far-flung locales like Uruguay and Morocco.

The VOS team’s first-hand knowledge of fine winemaking starts with regular visits to the vineyards where grapes are grown and harvested. From the inaugural collection onward, Victor has supported superior, healthy vineyard practices: the better ecological health of the vineyards, the better the wine. Similar to farming philosophies advocated by Dan Barber, Alice Waters, and Eric Schlosser in Food Inc., the winegrowers VOS represents approach the challenge of maintaining their vineyards with the goal of obtaining the best grapes possible utilizing the methods of sustainable, organic or biodynamic agriculture. The result: intensely ripe, flavorful fruit.

The company’s sixteen employees and dynamic structure are integral to its success. Ongoing customer loyalty and trust is a testament to VOS Selections’ long-standing reputation for high quality products and dedicated service.

Copyright © 2002-2017
VOS Selections, Inc.