Mark Milton

Jo McGarry photo

Jo McGarry photo

President, Beverage Marketing and More Inc.

Where were you born and raised? Lakewood City, Calif., and then we moved to Pennsylvania and then New Jersey. I graduated from Ithica College, N.Y.

Did you move to Hawaii because of the food and beverage industry? Yes, we did. My wife, Theresa, and I moved here in 1990 to pursue our passion for the beverage industry. I had been working on the Mainland for a large company, Heubline, managing its wine business, and Theresa was working for Brown Forman. We thought it would be a great opportunity in Hawaii.

Since the 1990s there has been such a shift in the industry – so many changes it’s hard to mention them all. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen? I think it’s in the quality of wines people drink, and in the quality of beverages in general. There’s a huge trend toward premium brands and fine wines versus the little-known wines that people used to drink. People are drinking so much better nowadays, and the consumer understanding of wine has dramatically changed.

What’s your favorite beverage at the end of the day? It depends on the day (laughs). Sometimes it’s a really good cold beer if I’m thirsty. And right now I’m really enjoying some excellent rye whiskey and bourbons. And in wine, I love big red wines – love those big flavors. I also enjoy great pinot noirs.

You spend so much of your time in fine-dining restaurants. What’s your idea of a perfect evening? We live in Ko Olina, so we like to take out our golf cart to watch the sunset and have a glass of wine. That’s pretty special. And there are now some great fine-dining restaurants in our area, so we really enjoy them. We never get tired of Hawaiian-style fine dining.

Do you cook at home? (laughs) I did when we were dating! But my wife is a great cook, and she mostly does it now. I try to contribute, usually with the cleanup.

It’s holiday time – would you give us a couple of fun things to drink during this festive season? I think you can’t go wrong during the holidays with Italian sparkling wines. There’s one we love, Ferrari – they have a sparkling rose and their brut is outstanding. I also think Perle is an amazing sparkling wine, as is Guilio Ferrari, which is just a terrific Italian wine for the holidays.

Who’d be included at your perfect dinner party table? I’d like to invite Bill Foley, owner of Foley Family Wines. He’s one of the top 100 businessmen in the U.S. and is just an amazing guy. And John Gruden, the ESPN analyst and former football coach. I think he’d be a fun guy to have a couple of drinks with.

If you hadn’t been in the beverage industry, what would you have done? Probably, I would have done something in the financial market. I like working with numbers, analyzing what has potential and deciding what might be rewarding to work with … or maybe a football coach (laughs).