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David Taub, Leading Figure In The Growth Of Imported Wine In America, Dies At Age 72

November 9, 2012

David S. Taub, chairman and CEO of wine importer Palm Bay International, passed away yesterday in Long Island, New York, following a long battle with kidney disease. He was 72. Over the decades, Taub built a formidable portfolio of wines including Cavit, Planeta and Jean-Luc Colombo, to name just a few.

Palm Bay started operations in 1977 by importing an obscure white wine from Trentino—a region many Americans didn’t realize was in Italy. That winery was Cavit, and Taub’s aggressive marketing helped put Pinot Grigio on the map in the U.S. Within five years, Palm Bay was importing 500,000 cases of wine annually. By 2009, the company’s portfolio represented more than 5 million cases.

Part of Taub’s success lay in a clearly delineated strategy: he looked for good producers and gave them the marketing and sales ammunition they needed in the American marketplace. Part of it also lay in the team he built. But a large part of Palm Bay was Taub’s personality, with which he infused the company. Even in his seventies, he was still brimming with new ideas. When he wanted something, he worked tirelessly to get it, occasionally smothering people with kindness.

As his son, Marc, Palm Bay’s president and COO, put it in a 2010 interview, “When my dad wants something, he just pushes forward. When people explain why it can’t be done, he just doesn’t hear them.”

David Taub was born into the wine and spirits business. His father, Martin, jumped into the industry three days after Prohibition ended, opening a spirits business in Jersey City. After World War II, Martin started a distributorship in New York because old clients Ernest and Julio Gallo needed a partner on the east coast.

David started his career working at the distributor, but soon realized that his passion lay in wine imports. David enjoyed finding wineries, developing relationships with them and promoting their products. In 1977, Martin founded Palm Bay, putting David in charge. Soave was a big seller at the time, and David felt he could find better Italian wines for the U.S.

In 1977, on a trip to Trento, he formed a partnership with the Cantina Viticoltori del Trentino, Ca’Vit for short, which Taub changed to Cavit on the American label. The Taubs’ history in distributing gave Cavit access to most major American markets. And soon enough, Americans fell in love with Pinot Grigio. In 1998, Taub formed a valuable partnership with Olive Garden and today Palm Bay provides a broad selection of wines to their list, including the chain’s house wines which are produced by Cavit.

Taub was a dedicated philanthropist, actively involved in charitable organizations such as the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, the American Cancer Society and the UJA Federation. Recently, the Taub Transplant Research Fund was established at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Taub is survived by his wife, Linda, sons Marc, Andy and Josh, and six grandchildren.

 

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