By Luke Phillips
The Holtville Planning Commission voted Monday to move forward with issuing a business license for Macgalies Wine & Spirits, operated by resident James Horn, but some conditions will have to be met.
Horn is currently looking for office space in Holtville to run book-keeping and records-keeping for a business he’s had in the works for nearly a decade. He plans to import fine wines from Southern Africa to sell nationwide.
Horn already has deals with wine producers in Paarl Valley, South Africa, an area that has been compared to the famous wine-producing region of Bordeaux, France, and warehouse space set up in Los Angeles, but wants to run his office operations out of Holtville.
It has been a struggle for Horn to get a business license in the city because his business is technically a wholesaler, which is not allowed in Holtville’s downtown business district. Horne took the issue to the Holtville City Council in May and has been working with city manager Laura Fischer and the planning commission to work around the technicality. Horn needs the approval of the city before he can move forward with an application for a license from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Department.
“All I want to have here is a desk, a computer, and a phone,” Horn said. “It’s been very, very complicated and taken a long time to figure out.
The planning commission voted unanimously to move forward with Horn’s license, assuming he is able to meet the conditions set forth including notifying the owner of his office space that he will be running a business that sells alcohol, and agreeing not to store or sell alcohol of any kind at the office.
Horn says he’s been working to set the business up for the past eight years, and the end is finally in sight.
“After all these years, I’m so close,” Horn said.
Horn says he will be importing only the finest quality wines and isn’t interested in the so-called ‘entry-level’ wines.
“I want to bring quality wines to the Imperial Valley,” Horn said. “I only want the best quality, so I can build my reputation.”
The wine will be imported from De Zoete Inval Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a wine producer that he has been working with for the past five years. Horn says he discovered the area, and it’s great wine, after three scouting trips to South Africa. He says it will be the first time wine from the region has ever been brought to the U.S.
“I’m trying to start a very large operation,” Horn said. “I hope to do well.”
Horne says he already has deals with several casinos and fine restaurants including the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas and several upscale eateries along the coast.
“They’re just clammering to get their hands on this stuff because it’s so rare,” he said.
Horn says if his operation is as successful as he thinks it’s going to be, he eventually wants to move his whole operation to the Imperial Valley, and with the newly built Highway 7 leading directly from the border, Horn says Holtville will be a likely location.
“I’d like to open a Type 9 warehouse, which is something that’s never been done in the Imperial Valley,” he said. “And I’d like to see it happen in Holtville. Why should it be in Calexico or somewhere else? Why not Holtville?”
By Luke Phillips