After discovering the wine region of Moravia, which runs between Prague and Vienna, two best friends who love travel became business partners to share their discovery. Amanda Wilson (pictured, right) and Heidi Wettach (pictured, left), cofounders and co-managing directors of Ahtel Wines in Milford, were “shocked and surprised” at the quality of the wines and wanted to purchase them back home, but learned that they were mostly sold locally.
After importing the wines for themselves and sharing some with friends, they started to see the potential. As brand marketers who bring products to market, they figured they could tackle it despite having no experience in the wine business.
“It has been an interesting couple of years,” says Wilson, explaining they formed Ahtel Wines in 2017, started doing business in 2018 and consider 2019 as their first “real year” in business. “We were very excited in March of 2020. We were at Vinexpo in NYC; it was a great event, and we had tons of interest. We had just done a big import, then, as soon as we got home, everything shut down,” she says.
But business was back on track by mid-summer 2020, and Wilson says Ahtel Wines has doubled its volume. “There’s a curiosity factor when I pour at a tasting. Unless someone has been to Prague or traveled, they have never had wine from the Czech Republic, and they can’t wait to try it,” she says.
Wine importers build a portfolio, much like a curator choosing pieces for an art exhibit. Wilson says people inside the hospitality industry come to know and trust an importer, but the average wine consumer doesn’t know or understand why it matters.
“We are the ones having the conversation with wine makers, and if they say it is organic, we are out there walking the fields,” Wilson says. The wines are available at some NH Liquor and Wine Outlets, including Bedford.
For more details, visit ahtelwines.com.