850 Life: Chan Cox of Chan's Wine World, Destin

Taste Maker

Bourbon’s popularity in the 1970s meant wine was an untapped sales niche for Chan Cox, who decided to take full advantage. Today, he is the go-to guru for all things wine in Northwest Florida, with five retail stores open (Destin, Sandestin, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach and Miramar Beach) and three more planned. Cox has taught wine classes, penned wine columns, hosted wine tastings and even advises customers on building wine cellars.

The (850) Life

Taste Maker Chan Cox, Destin
Owner, Chan’s Wine World Originally published in the Apr/May 2010 issue of 850 Business Magazine

Bourbon’s popularity in the 1970s meant wine was an untapped sales niche for Chan Cox, who decided to take full advantage.

Today, he is the go-to guru for all things wine in Northwest Florida, with five retail stores open (Destin, Sandestin, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach and Miramar Beach) and three more planned. Cox has taught wine classes, penned wine columns, hosted wine tastings and even advises customers on building wine cellars.

An entrepreneurial spirit, Cox founded the Sandestin Wine Festival, an award-winning annual event now in its 24th year, and the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, which has raised more than $2 million for local charities.

The modest mogul claims that “experience is critical.” So is plain, hard work. And for this 62-year-old athlete, who competed in road races and triathlons, that includes daily exercise.

Forty years later, Cox’s glass is still half full. “Now wine is a passion. It consumes me,” he said.

Cox recently sat down with 850 Magazine writer Zandra Wolfgram to talk wine, traveling and relaxation, among other topics.

 

1. Key to success: I love to make things happen. To recognize an opportunity … to find a niche not pursued and do it the best I can. I find it very rewarding to look back and see things I’ve had a part in creating.

2. Best way to communicate? E-mail.

3. Wishing to be expert on: I am fascinated by technology. I didn’t grow up with computers, but I wish I did. My daughters think I’m from the ice age.

4. Favorite wine? What turns me on is that every single wine is different. It fascinates me. I want to try them all.

5. Tips on wine pairings: Wine is all about styles. It’s fun to go to tastings so you can identify a style you like. I, for one, don’t like a big, high-alcohol, sweet, ripe, oaky wine. I prefer clean, crisp, lower-alcohol wines that go well with food. It’s so subjective. What one person thinks is sweet, another person thinks is dry. It starts with finding a style you like.

6. Key to a good wine party: Find a merchant you can trust that can help you make wine-buying decisions and find the best values.

7. Morning person or night owl? My favorite time of day is 5 to 7 a.m.

8. Hero: Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about Teddy Roosevelt. We don’t have people like him anymore.

9. Fave getaway: The south of France.

10. Downtime: My horse farm off of Highway 20.

11. Hobbies: It’s changed. I used to love to play golf and compete in racing and triathlons. Now, it’s travel.

12. Best lunch date: My daughters, Cassie and Catie.