Peter and I met in February 1994 at a mutual friend’s wedding which I was attending with my four-year old son, Mathew. We spoke all evening and had many things in common including our love for Southampton, NY where he had just purchased a house and where I had been renting summer homes for the past four years. We dated over the next months until, due to a career change, I moved out of Manhattan. Matthew and I moved to NJ close to where Peter was living. Our relationship continued, Peter took me on my first trip to Germany in June of 1994. I now started my immersion into the German lifestyle and language. We went to Wiesbaden where Peter owned a home. I met his friends and I enjoyed the lifestyle of this beautiful spa city. I loved the atmosphere, the markets, the food and the calm. We drove on the autobahn, enjoying the countryside and visited vineyards on the Rhine. I was falling in love with the culture and with Peter.
Matthew when Peter and I met in 1994.
Peter was German, his ancestors emigrated from Scotland to Koningsburg in early the 1900’’s; Peter’s Mother Inga and Father Hans were born here. When the war broke out the families fled the area and met at their summer home at Kochel am see. This is where Peter was born in 1948. Peter’s mother and father moved from Kochel to Frankfurt in the mid 50’s where Peter’s father joined his brother in the liquor distribution company; they distributed Asbach Uralt Brandy in the Frankfurt area. The company was the largest distributor of Asbach in the region. Peter finished his school years in Frankfurt, joined the military and was stationed in Garmisch. After which he too joined the Asbach company. He worked himself up the ladder and in the early 80’s was promoted to Executive Vice-President and was asked to move to the US to run the Asbach distribution company out of NJ. Peter was the King of Asbach in the US bringing customers and distributors to Germany for trips to visit the distillery. When Asbach was sold to the then National Distillers in 1991 he started his own liquor company in 1992 called Niche Import Co. Peters focus was on German Spirits and German and Austrian chocolates. Some of his brands includes Kammer Kirschwasser, Verpoorten and Bismarck Corn. Inge passed away in 1967 and Hans in 1986. Peter has one cousin in Frankfurt that I keep in touch with.
When I moved to NJ, I worked in the corporate environment, which I left soon after, and started a house cleaning company so I could have more time with my son.
We spent our first Christmas together in 1994. Peter always wanted a train set but his parents couldn't afford to purchase the trains for him. I bought Peter a beginner set of Marklin Trains which he loved.
Peter asked me to do some graphic work for the Niche company, creating sell sheets to promote the Brands he carried. Soon after, during holiday 1994, an employee’s husband’s fell ill, leaving Peter to require additional resources at the office; he asked me to help with the chocolate department.
Matthew and I moved into Peter’s condo in early 1995. Working and living together certainly had its challenges but found that I loved the submersion to the German culture and the liquor and chocolate business. Matthew too, had an adjustment not only of having to share me with someone else but also to the German lifestyle. He soon adapted this lifestyle and started German school on Saturday’s for the next seven years. I tried to learn German, I went to school, I listened to tapes, I read books but was not successful. While I understand, I am challenged at speaking the language.
We travelled to Germany often, always for business but also sneaking in some time to visit friends and enjoy the culture. Matthew travelled with us, as well.
Wiesbaden, Germany May 2004
We held 50th Birthday Peter for Peter starting in Wiesbaden at the Ress family winery in Ruesdesheim the night of July 16, 1998 celebrating into the 17th. The next morning, we flew to NJ and celebrated on the 17th in Madison, NJ.
Peter and Terri on his 50th Birthday. Rudesheim, Germany
I was the chocolate Maven, thoroughly enjoying and expanding the retail and wholesale business. I went to trade shows, visited suppliers and hand sold the specialties throughout the country. We were the go-to company for German Spirits and German Chocolates. We started to add other countries to the Chocolate Portfolio, including Italy, Ireland and Colombia. We also had a consumer business which I thrived with. We did on-line sales as well as opened holiday stores three years in a row at a NJ mall.
In July of 2009 we were in Southampton celebrating my 50th Birthday and my sister Nancy’s 40th. We were expecting guests from all over for a weekend of fun. The celebration began on Friday night, on Saturday morning Peter did not feel well; he was confused. This was very unusual for Peter but I took it as having one too many schnapps the night before. I suggested he take a nap as we had a large event that we were hosting on Saturday evening. He continued to feel confused and was not able to give simple directions to friends. He did not want to attend the event on Saturday night but urged me to go. I went home early to be with him. The next morning at 6:00 am I brought him to the hospital.
We were very lucky that the doctor on duty was a Brain surgeon and after the CAT scan revealed “something there” he made immediate arrangements for us to be transferred to Memorial Sloane the next morning. We had the actual Birthday party planned for Sunday evening which I wanted to cancel but Peter insisted on the party continuing although he was staying in the hospital. I went back and forth from the party to the hospital bringing him food and cake.
The next week was a blur for me and for Peter. He was officially diagnosed with a Glioblastoma MultiForm. They did surgery and he spent his 61st Birthday in the hospital. Peter went through rounds of radiation and chemo and was starting to feel better, although very tired.
Peter wanted to take a cruise on the QE2. Starting off in Germany and then on to London and then the “Crossing”.
Peter and I on the QE2 September 2009.
When we returned, the business was heading into busiest time of the year, Christmas. I spent my time taking care of Peter, learning the liquor business and managing both the wholesale, retail and consumer chocolate businesses.
We made it through the season and travelled to tradeshows in San Francisco and Germany in January
While Peter was feeling better the scans showed some signs of reoccurrence. At that time, we spoke about selling the chocolate business and for me to continue with the liquor business as he felt the most growth could come with that segment. On April 1, of 2010 we sold the retail and wholesale business to Gourmet International.
We held onto the consumer business and I immersed myself into the liquor business. In late April, Peter was not feeling well, I called the doctor and brought him into Memorial Sloane in NY. They did additional scans and found that the Cancer had spread to the brain stem and spinal cord. He stayed in the hospital for two days, the doctors told us that nothing further that could be done. They estimated six weeks and suggested we contact Hospice. Peter said he wanted to go to Germany. We made arrangements to go with Matthew to Wiesbaden where we stayed for one week. As it would have been very difficult for me to handle arrangements in Germany, Peter said goodbye to the homeland and decided he wanted to be in Southampton for his last days. I brought him there where he was surrounded by my family and friends until he passed on June 8th.
Peter wanted a Memorial in NY and a Memorial in Wiesbaden before bringing him to the family plot in Kochel am see
We were all broken, but the business was calling me. I made a decision to sell the consumer business to a family member after which I did a whirlwind driving tour through Germany, Austria and Prague visiting our liquor suppliers
I spent the next three years traveling at least 90% of the time to Europe, through the US and promoting our liquor Brands. I felt as though if we had an investment we could grow that business; I did not have the money to invest myself. I started to talk to a foreign company and an arrangement was made where I sold all of my shares in December of 2014. I stayed on as the President of the company until September of 2016.
I spent the last months developing a new liquor company called Phoenix Wine and Spirits. This will become more relevant in 2018 hosting a few Brands. In June, I visited the Fancy Food Show and felt like I was home again. I developed a plan to start a new consumer business building on the past successes, learning and pivoting we formed Deutascheskaufhause.com LLC dba Europeandeli.com. I quickly put together a team including a Web Designer, a Buyer and an Operations Director and in less than three short months we were ready to launch.
Europeandeli.com was founded to bring hard to find specialties from Europe to the consumer, geared at “foodies” that have travelled through Europe and enjoyed certain foods while they were there, received gifts from Europe or who have lived in Europe or who have European heritage and grew up on Lifestyle Brands. We want to encompass the best Brands that have a story and a history.
This is my business, I have not inherited it. Like my husband did in 1992, I’m starting from the ground floor to build a marketplace where originality, heritage and the art of old fashioned customer service is not lost.
My other love is my three-year-old Granddaughter. Lucy Claire Nelson is now three years old and she is truly a joy. My son has a great job managing liquor brands for a large wholesaler. We adopted Foster, the year Peter past away. We did DNA this year that shows him to be 50% Rottweiler and 50% Golden Retriever. A big bunch of Love at 135 pounds.
Matthew and Lucy July 2014
I look forward to meeting you and sharing stories. Look for more Blogs about our Family, Our Brands and places I have visited.