Vineyard Brands was founded by Robert Haas in 1971, and a remodeled barn on the Haas family farm
served as headquarters from the inception of the company until May of 1997.
Robert Haas began his career in 1950, as the buyer for his father’s wine shop in New York City.
As Haas became more interested in the wine business, he became less interested in the retail business.
In 1955, he started an importing arm, Leeds Imports Corporation, and commenced seriously selling in markets
other than the state of New York.
In 1961 Haas’ father sold his store and in 1967 he pulled his capital
out of Leeds, which left him with little choice but to find a buyer, and he sold
his company to Barton Distilling Company. However, Barton lacked the long-term commitment
to the fine wine business and Haas resigned from Barton in 1970 and moved to Vermont
in 1971 and founded Vineyard Brands.
In 1990 a succession plan was put in place and Jerry Neff was named President. Prior
to being named President, Jerry Neff was National Sales Manager for Vineyard Brands
for 5 years, State Manager for National Distributing Company in Georgia for 1 year
and General Sales Manager for McKesson Wine & Spirits in Atlanta for 9 years.
During his career in Georgia, Jerry Neff introduced and established many new California
and imported wines to the Atlanta market, including most of the wines from the Vineyard
In 1992, the contemplated transition became a reality when Jerry Neff moved to Vermont
to assume the day to day duties of running the business. In May of 1997 the transition
was completed when the headquarters of Vineyard Brands was moved from the barn in
Chester, Vermont to a new facility, more than twice the size of the Chester office,
in Birmingham, Alabama.
Most of the office staff moved from Chester to Birmingham and the total number of
employees has grown from 2 in 1971 to 56 people today,with 32 sales representatives
(including 5 regional managers) throughout the U.S. Our sales and marketing staff
work with restaurateurs, retailers and over 100 distributors in all 50 states to
ensure effective national distribution for all of our wines. The Birmingham office
handles all shipping, accounting, promotional materials and advertising for Vineyard
Today, Vineyard Brands represents over 25 growers of estate-bottled wines in Burgundy,
Chablis, the Rhône, Loire Valley, Alsace and Southern France as well as some of
the best wines available from Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Chile, New Zealand, Australia,
South Africa, Germany and Italy.
The same stringent criteria exercised by Robert Haas still exists today. All wines
are personally selected by Jerry Neff and Daniel Haas, Robert’s son, who continues
the tradition of a close family relationship with the French proprietors and makes
a number of trips to taste and select wines during the year. All wines are tasted
by the management staff before a decision on representation is made.
The result of this stringent selection is best illustrated in the following quote from The Wine Advocate:
"In a world increasingly dominated by vast sums of capital and multinational
firms, it is difficult for a small wine importer to survive unless that company
has considerable expertise and an unwavering commitment to quality rather than quantity...‘Robert
Haas Selections’ or ‘Imported By Vineyard Brands’ is as close to a guarantee of
quality as the consumer can expect."