Words of Wisdom: Wine and Wealth

For centuries, wine has been vital to many European cultures. Today, people in the Mediterranean still view wine as an essential part of the good life. From one generation to the next, wine is refined and shared with family and great friends.

The Gianulias family understands this tradition well. Since 1926, Levendi has crafted premium wines in Napa Valley. We are honored to have two of Levendi’s founders, David Gianulias and Todd Rustman, join us on the Wind Surf as Signature Hosts.

The Barcelona to Rome voyage departs on May 8, and will feature a winemaking lecture and a tasting session onboard. Because Rustman is also a co-founder of GR Capital Asset Management, he will be giving our guests a presentation on wealth management during the sailing.

To give you a little taste of what’s to come, we asked David and Todd a few questions about winemaking and wealth management.


1. What is the origin of the name Levendi? Is there a story behind it?

The Greek toast “Levendi” acknowledges a hard day’s labor and achievement. It celebrates the fields, the rain and the sun that nurture our special grapes. Essentially, it’s a toast “to celebrate life.” And it is the philosophy on which we craft our wine.

2.What is your winemaking philosophy?

Winemaker Alison Green Doran has a background of family grape-growing, a keen eye for proper viticultural practices and a passion for winemaking. Alison has honed her craft into a distinctive style all her own—harvesting at optimum ripeness, and making sure she gets the “pop and jump” out of every grape. At Levendi, Alison has brought vitality and excitement to the development of each vintage. The result of her labors is embodied in the exquisite taste and velvety feel our wines deliver glass after glass—a testament to Alison’s dedication to the vineyards, to the fruit and to her passion for the perfect pour.

3. A lot of winemakers believe wine should be aged even after it’s bottled. What’s different about your approach?

A Levendi, we believe you have to be flexible in your approach to aging. Each wine and each vintage is so different. Our reds spend 20 months in barrel, then bottled, and finally we typically give the wines about 18 months to 2 years to settle in bottle. Once this process has taken place, then they are sent to market. Levendi wines are created in a fresh, fruit-forward style and we prefer that people enjoy our red wines within the first five years of release.


1. What is the most interesting or exciting part of working with your clients?

The most exciting part for me is take complex situations and life issues and distill them down into simple, ‘bite-sized’ pieces. In essence, to “reverse-engineer” a cost effective, risk/return efficient solution to a qualitative situation. For example, the complexity of a family’s income needs–especially in preparing a client for retirement or, ever increasingly, how to navigate different “buckets” on money on the cross-border front. The best excitement for me, “a solution looking for a problem” is to actively listen, find a couple of potential solutions that might work, work in partnership with the client to determine the best course of action. Then, implement and monitor! And, help ease the concerns of the client so that they can go on to focus on quality time with the activities and memories that they would rather be doing!

2. When searching for a wealth manager or investment advisor, what are some credentials a prospective client should look for?

I like this question–because I believe in passion. Historically, passionate people have really moved mountains, changed the course of history, had an impact. From Mother Theresa, Ronald Reagan, to even some memorable teaches in grade school–those people with passion have left their mark on our lives! For our wealth management business, I like to take tests and get certifications for our passion. In that regard, a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) remain 2 of the most desirable certifications. I do have more, but I love to take tests! (also have my real estate license, my MBA and my pilot’s license–and I am not done yet!) My annual commitment to myself is to lower the number of ‘things’ in my life that I am not passionate about!

3. What appeals to you about the winemaking business, as both an investment and an interest?

There has been so many magical times of crossing cultural barriers or even just philosophical differences, by just sharing a glass of wine together. As an investment, wine stands out more as an improvement to one’s quality of life. Truly, breaking open some bottles of Levendi and sharing it with friends–that is something we can all enjoy, discuss and tell stories over–simply magical. To quote those credit card commercials–”Priceless!” Often, my passion for speaking of abstract, econometric models, balance sheets, duration, convexity, alpha—well, these issues that are so exciting to our team and myself– sometimes are not so exciting to my clients and friends –who don’t spend their time dreaming of such things! But– wine, typically allows all of us to share some time with something tangible. Everyone can and should have an opinion about what they like or don’t like about a wine!! In the end, after every wine dinner or sharing of a wine experience, we always feel closer as a ‘family’ in this great world and life we have.

We look forward to learning much more from David and Todd during the voyage. Please join us onboard!

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