A Chat with LVMH Veteran and Volcan Tequila Founder Trent Fraser
For many wine connoisseurs, the love for wine is often marked by as a significant point or event in time that made a change in the way he or she drank and appreciated wine. For Trent Fraser, however, his love for wine was a critical part of his upbringing in Adelaide, Australia, a place known for its fantastic wines and amazing vineyards. With that said, it's no surprise that Fraser is the best in the business, with impeccable taste acquired throughout his life. Now, after more than 7 years at LVMH having the dream job of Vice President of Dom Pérignon, Fraser has now embarked on his biggest and most exciting venture to date, creating Volcan De Mi Tierra Tequila.
We caught up with this man about town and industry expert to hear more about what it was like starting Moët Hennessy's first only built from the ground-up brand and all the must-knows that make it so damn good!
The Tidalist: Tell us the Story behind Volcan
Trent Fraser: Volcan de Mi Tierra means land of the Volcano. There is a very large and prominent Volcano in the region of tequila that is in fact called "Tequila Volcano". When it erupted hundreds of thousands of years ago, it shaped the entire terrain and topography of this region. Our Blue Agave grows in Volcanic rock and soil. Bringing our story back to the land and terroir of this unique region, not only do we pay homage to this mystical power, but we celebrate the influence it has had on the land, region, and community of Jalisco.
TT: What sort of work and due diligence did you have to do to understand the world of tequila? Is it much different than working with wine? If so, how?
TF: I've personally been drinking tequila for a decade so I already had a good appreciation from a branding and consumer point of view. This is critically important to me as not only did I have a strong comfort level but an existing passion that was allowed to be explored further personally and professionally. Corporately we did a significant amount of due diligence, research and basically an observation of the category for many years prior which provided a deep dive analysis of all things Tequila and most importantly the opportunity.
While very different worlds, what's interesting to the wine comparison is that tequila actually does have a strong terroir component which people don’t realize. Terroir is basically all the natural surrounding elements that impact the outcome of the liquid, namely soil, climate, and topography. Wine is very much focused on terroir and we at Volcan are showing people a very similar approach to our production of Tequila. We very purposely blending between to two distinct regions in tequila, Lowlands, and Highlands. In the lowlands, you get a very sturdy, herbal and peppery style of aromatics, whereas the highlands its much more finesse, elegance, and floral notes. Winemakers are the experts at this and we following a similar path to ensure the development of an exceptional liquid.
TT: Describe the vibe of Volcan in 3 words
TF: Passionate and entrepreneurial …… or……. New Era of Tequila
TT: One thing that most people don't know about the making of tequila?
TF: Many don’t know that it takes 7 years for agave to mature before we can harvest. I never realized how lucky I was in the wine business to get a vintage every year of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.
TT: What are you most excited about for the future of your new venture?
TF: Honestly, I'm fulfilling a dream as its always been a passion of mine to launch a brand from scratch. So a big part of the excitement is the entrepreneurship and the actual journey of building something patiently and the right way. Of course, I have big dreams and ambitions for Volcan so building something not for the next 5-10 years, but rather for generations is the long-term reward.
TT: Can you provide 2 people and 2 companies that inspire you and the work you do and why?
TF: I actually absorb a lot of inspiration from those around me and two good mates, Will Guidara and Daniel Humm are prime examples. Their “make it nice” philosophy at both Nomad Hotel and Eleven Madison really epitomize the balance between a high performing but also enjoyable work culture. It’s a clear and fun vision that is immediately recognizable to their employees, that ultimately is rewarding for their entire team and own brand. I also admire Shinola’s branding evolution and the way they have brought themselves to market. They have remained truly authentic with a very pragmatic expansion plan.
TT: The Ultra-Premium tequila category is growing in this craft cultural moment. Talk to us about this popular category. Where do you see tequila headed in the future?
TF: Super premium tequila has been exploding for nearly a decade now but still has much more room for growth. It has evolved from a low-end shot category to a much more sophisticated and stylish offering. There are multiple layers to the category now that appeal to many different styles of a consumer. The heritage brands have led and pioneered for many years and paved the way for others to join. The more niche and craft brands have connected and opened the door to the trade and mixology world. And finally, the lifestyle brands have made it more fashionable and trendy. All in all the category has broadened tremendously but hopefully not to become diluted like many others.
While the lifestyle component continues to expand I think the biggest future is actually focused on greater appreciation and understanding. A greater demand and commitment to quality will be the future as a result and will ultimately elevate the position of the category. The US has been the catalyst for the growth but watch out for the jet-set cities that are fastly adopting and embracing tequila as well.