JTHS Council of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS - Jupiter, Tequesta, Hope Sound



Wine and Real Estate: Location is Paramount

by | May 15, 2017

By Chris Umpierre



Christopher Zoller has had a fascination with wine for as long as he can remember.

His parents taught him about the food’s importance (yes, it is a food). The Coral Gables Realtor’s parents served wine at every dinner and taught him about its nutritional benefits, international reach and flavor profiles.

“In real estate, it’s location, location, location,” said Zoller, who owns a 3,200 wine-bottle cellar after almost 30 years of collecting. “In the wine world, it’s terroir.”

Terroir is the Latin term that attempts to capture all of the environmental and cultural influences in growing grapes and making wine. According to terroir, certain wine varietals thrive in a certain location with a certain climate with a certain annual rainfall and a certain quality soil.

Zoller, the 2017 MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI) Chairman of the Board, sees many similarities between wine and real estate. Location is paramount, of course, but so is supply and demand. If there’s too much wine coming from one grape, the wine’s price will go down.

“Just like it takes a sharp Realtor to determine the best values in the real estate world, it takes a sharp oenophile to pick out the best wines,” Zoller said. “The wine collection process is similar to buying choice parcels. The best location will give you the best returns. In real estate, we look for the highest and best use. In dining, we look for the best food and wine pairing.”


An Oenophile’s Dream

Zoller began collecting wines when he moved back to Miami in 1988 after selling real estate in St. Thomas for six years.

He and his wife, Lee Galt, have a 3,200-bottle wine cellar. It is a wine lover’s paradise. The couple picked many of their wines during their travels. 

Once found primarily in France, wine is global now. Fun fact: Every U.S. state has at least one winery.

Winery tips and advice from Zoller:

● On Napa Valley vs. Sonoma County in California: “I prefer Sonoma County. It is a little quieter there and Sonoma County produces quality wine.”

● On the best wines to drink in Miami and the Caribbean: “Living down here in the subtropics and the heat, I like pinot noir for a softer red. White wines like a sauvignon blanc or pinot gris go great with our food here because much or our cuisine features spicier flavors.”

● On Oregon wines: “Wines in the Willamette Valley are spectacular.”

● On lesser known French wine regions: “We go to the Alsace wine region in France. It’s near the France and German border. They have amazing Rieslings and Pinot Gris. And try some from the Languedoc for great value.”

● On Australian wineries: “Australia makes wonderful wines. They are a little heavier but you have to give them a try.”


Learning from His Mother

Zoller developed his passion for wine and real estate from his mother, Leticia. Leticia Zoller spent 20 years selling real estate in Fairfield, Conn.

Zoller said his mother encouraged him to get into real estate. One day, she heard him negotiating a deal with a fishing supply company, and told him he should look into selling homes. While still a college undergraduate in Connecticut, Zoller got his first real estate license in 1973. In his twenties, Zoller served on the Greater Fairfield (Conn.) Board of Realtors.

Four decades later, Zoller has collected real estate licenses in four states (Florida, Connecticut, New York, and South Carolina) and one Caribbean island (St. Thomas).

His deep real estate background helped him secure a position at EWM Realty International, Inc. in Coral Gables, where he has worked for the past 27 years.

Zoller specializes in custom properties for South Florida commercial and residential clients. Zoller’s clientele includes local and international residential customers, investors and luxury home owners, small and medium businesses as well as large corporations. 


Miami: From Resort City to Global City

Zoller’s experience in South Florida gives him an interesting perspective on Miami’s growth. Since he moved back to Miami in 1988, the city has gone from a retirement home to a major global city.

Zoller marvels at the growth of local higher education. The University of Miami, Miami Dade College and Florida International University have made serious leaps in the last three decades.

Dadeland in south Miami-Dade County shifted from an almost vacant mall and Cadillac car dealership to a busy Metrorail stop with shopping centers, condos and businesses. Downtown Miami transformed from a 9-to-5 destination to one of America’s fastest-growing neighborhoods, according to Realtor.com.

Brickell, which is part of downtown, went from an isolated area to one of the most active real estate locations in the nation. Banks, bars, restaurants and skyscrapers are turning Brickell into a major city within a city. Today, Miami is home to more than 1,000 multinationals, 33 international banks and 77 foreign consulates.

“Miami is a city where land is precious,” Zoller said. “We don’t have the place to grow. We’re not like Atlanta or Houston where we can expand in 360-degree directions. We only have two locations we can go — east or west — and we’re full. Now, we go up. We’re becoming more of a vertical city.”


The Global Nature of Wine

Like Miami, wine is also global.

Zoller’s impressive wine collection shows you that wine can be produced all over the world.

But knowing how to pair the right wine to a specific meal? Now that’s a science.

Ask Zoller about pairing wine to food and he will describe how a fat, juicy steak with dark, deep flavors pairs seamlessly with red wine because it also has dark, deep flavors. The acidity of the wine helps refresh your palate while removing the steak’s fatty juices so you can take another bite.

Just don’t ask him to pick a favorite wine.

“It’s like picking your favorite child,” Zoller said with a laugh. “But if there were no other wines left on earth, I hope maybe just maybe there’s one pinot noir left.”





Name: Christopher Zoller

Board position: 2017 MIAMI Association of REALTORS® Chairman of the Board

Employment: Broker-Associate at EWM Realty International, Inc.

Achievement:  2009 MIAMI Residential Realtor of the Year

Did you know? Zoller previously worked as an actor in soap operas, TV commercials, and as an extra in movies in New York City. He also performed in Off-Broadway work.



Getting to Know Our MIAMI Leaders is a project by Chris Umpierre highlighting the 2017 presidents and chairmen of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS®. The leaders are: Chairman of the Board Christopher Zoller, Residential President Christina Pappas, Commercial President José María Serrano, Broward President Ellen R. Mitchel, Young Professionals Network Chairman Alberto Carrillo and JTHS-MIAMI President Lynne Rifkin.


Read all the profiles at www.miamire.com/MiamiLeaders

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