What's new?

Get Tickets
Photo for: Meet The Star Behind Artisan Fine Wine and Spirits - Tracia Forrest


Share this post:

Meet The Star Behind Artisan Fine Wine and Spirits - Tracia Forrest


Tracia Forrest, Founder of Artisan Fine Wines and Spirits, an Oklahoma-based Alcohol distribution company, talks about what it is like being in the alcohol distribution business.

With the great desire to learn about the wine industry, Tracia Forrest started her career in this industry 18 years ago as a Wine Representative. She gradually learned more and moreover the years and worked with several alcohol distributions and wholesale companies in senior positions. With great expertise and knowledge of the industry, she founded Artisan Fine Wine and Spirits in 2016 where she has built a portfolio of some distinguished Artisan brands and offers value to them through her distribution network.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to join the wine and spirits industry? 

I am a Former Oklahoma City public school teacher and a mother of 3 daughters. I started as a Wine Sales Representative and then fell in love with all things booze business.

Tell us more about Artisan and what does your day at Artisan looks like?

Artisan was started in February 2016 by myself in an old mechanic shop. My goal was to establish a company that could offer the best customer service and accessibility for the alcohol beverage industry. A day at Artisan is sending our sales representatives out into the Oklahoma market to call on licensed account buyers and convince them to use our brands over the competition. We then service those accounts with delivery and customer service. 

As a distribution company, what are some criteria you focus on before adding wine or spirit to your portfolio?  

We focus on current consumer interest and demand and find the highest quality product to fit the need. We also try to find lesser-known and interesting new trends from around the world and introduce them to our buyers and the consumer.  

According to you, which wines and spirits are performing the best in the market, you are currently operating in? 

Tequila and all Mexican spirits are super HOT!  Whiskies from around the world are unique and high quality as well. As far as wine, sparkling is popular, especially cheap bubbles for brunch menus. 

How did the change of tariffs affect your company? Also, what was the impact of the pandemic on your business and how did you tackle it?  

Tariffs affected us with significant price increases which have not gone back down, as well as inventory issues. Importers didn’t know if they should buy up or wait it out.  This along with current supply chain issues has created a lot of uncertainty and confusion in the market. The biggest impact on Artisan with the pandemic was the hurt to the restaurant industry.  They are not only our customers but also our friends and family. 

We had an initial drop in sales from the restaurant closings, followed up by a big spike in retail sales. Overall we had increases thanks to people drinking at home. 

How do you work with the Hospitality sector in choosing Wines and Spirits for their establishments?  

We believe that we have the most experienced and well-rounded team in the Oklahoma market.  Our goal is to be a resource for the hospitality sector by providing product knowledge, training, trends, availability, and above all consistently great customer service.

Tracia Forrest. founder of Artisan Fine Wines and Spirits

What’s your take on digitalization and how are you leveraging it?  

We believe that digitalization is an important feature in most industries today.  Most especially in our industry where consumers can now get information on brands as well as a great visual experience.

Being a part of the alcohol distribution industry for so many years, how do you think the industry has evolved over the years? 

We never had this many brands happen at one time. So many people are jumping into this industry with little experience but great curiosity and optimism. Another big change is politics. Laws are beginning to modernize towards convenience as well as large companies gobbling up brands and creating a big consolidation movement. It has very much become a monopoly.   

What are some of the challenges associated with the distribution of wines and spirits? 

Right now challenges are supply chain management. Shortages in bottles and other supplies have really hurt some of our brands.  

What is the one piece of advice you would give to the new Distributors looking to enter the Wine and Spirits industry?  

Best industry ever, but expect a lot of work, highly competitive, and expect it to cost twice as much as forecast

Finally, which is your favorite drink, and which setting do you enjoy it most in?

I like it all. Beautiful restaurant with great food and wine pairing, all the way to a hole-in-the-wall bar and tequila shots. My favorite time is spent with my grown daughters enjoying spicy margaritas.  

Interviewed by Shreya Kohli, Beverage Trade Network