JVS Imports was founded two decades ago when Sam Filmus and his family began importing and distributing wines from Eastern Europe. The business then grew in two important directions. The first was the development of JVS as an importer with a national network of distributors for its products, and the second was the growth of JVS as a wholesaler in California.
Staying true to its roots, JVS offers a wide assortment of beers and wines from Eastern Europe, but Mr. Filmus and his lifelong friend and business partner Val Zhoglo have also cultivated a large (and growing!) portfolio of brandy, mezcal, vodka, scotch, rum, as well as popular American Craft Spirits – always staying true to the goal of bringing unique and distinct tastes from around the world to the US.
We are a team of dedicated and passionate individuals that come together in harmony to bring our customers a quality product at a reasonable price.
The true testament of what allows us to thrive is the knowledge, dedication, and willingness that our team holds to bring awareness to the consumer and variety to the retailer.
Sam’s career in the beverage industry began two decades ago when he founded JVS. His dream was to bring a taste of his heritage to the United States in the form of wines indigenous to Eastern Europe. There lie the roots of JVS’ portfolio– having realized his dream, Sam did not stop there. JVS has expanded to include beverage categories that meet the needs of both mainstream and ethnic accounts.
Sam is especially passionate about whisky, which he imports through his other company ImpEx Beverages. Sam excels at building relationships with partners of all backgrounds in the industry, cultivating a community of enthusiasts and mutual support.
Sam is a notorious workaholic, but on the rare occasion that he has a weekend off, he enjoys relaxing with his wife, kids, and (believe it or not!) grandkids, as well as spending time outdoors with his Golden Retriever, Skyler.
Val has been a part of JVS since 1999. It’s hard to believe that at one point, he couldn’t tell the difference between a Bourbon and a Scotch. Now, having paid his dues in the industry, Val has become an expert on wines, beers and spirits.
When his mind isn’t on fine wines and spirits, he’s thinking about the next improvement he wants to make to his backyard, his next motorcycle road trip, or planning his upcoming sailing adventure. Some of his favorite destinations have been in Mexico, Australia, the Caribbean, the Polynesian Islands and Desolation Sound in Canada.
Chris Uhde has been with the company since 2007. He oversees sales and operations of our Southern California Warehouse and is very active in the whisky community.
He is the Chairman of the United Scottish Society of Southern California and well known in the community as the Whisky Redhead. In his free time he likes to play soccer and spend time with his family.
Chris is a true ambassador when it comes to our whisky portfolio from Japan. Anything you may want to know, just ask and he’s happy to share.
Tim Grimes is a native from Los Alamos, New Mexico, but has been living in Los Angeles since 2006.
Tim joined JVS Imports in 2015 with over 10 years of bartender/ bar manager experience as the West LA Account Representative, covering territory from Maibu to Long Beach.
Tim loves what he does and is always happy to share new and exciting products and the stories behind them. He ives with his wife and son in Long Beach, California so if you see him around town feel free to strike up a conversation. It will be one you won’t forget.
Sales Representative - Silicon Valley, the Peninsula, lower East Bay and Santa Cruz
Mark is a rum connoisseur, cocktail enthusiast and lover of all things tiki!
Mark joined JVS Imports in 2017. His previous career included over 20 years in high tech in various engineering and management roles. Some of Mark’s cocktail credentials include being the 2nd person to obtain Master status in Smuggler’s Cove’s Rumbustation Society, being the 2nd person to complete Forbidden Island’s Kill Devil list, and, even though he does not live anywhere near Portland, he has completed Hale Pele’s Fire Drinkers list!
Mark is also the founder and inaugural president of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, founder of the annual South San Francisco Bay Area Home Tiki Bar Crawl and host of the annual Tikipalooza weekender in NorCal!
Executive Sales Manager
A true passion for spirits and the stories behind them has connected the varied roles Summer-Jane Bell has ridden in the wild west of the hospitality industry.
It all started with ten years bartending moving into four years as a brand ambassador for Tequila and Rum Distilleries and now four years (starting in 2017) in distributor sales for the epic JVS Imports portfolio.
Other enterprises running concurrently are a decade of volunteer leadership positions in United States Bartenders’ Guild, Co-founding the TrophyCocktail mobile app, and now Creative Consultant at Hello Stranger Bar in Oakland, CA.
Spirits judging for American Distilling Institute, San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Whiskies of the World has been exhilarating for her.
She’s taught seminars at numerous conferences including Tales of the Cocktail, Portland Cocktail Week, and Bar Convent Brooklyn.
Besides bar hopping and offering mentorship in her beloved bar community, she enjoys cooking, travel, dancing, and karaoke.
Territory Sales Representative, Sacramento Market
Travis joined JVS Imports in 2022 after 7 years in the Beverage Industry in varying roles from Bartender to General Manager.
In his most recent role he has been able to expand his knowledge of Rum and cane sugar spirits as well as agave. He has a passion for flavors from around the world and loves to explore new food and beverages.
In his off time he loves to spend time with his family enjoying the outdoors, riding motorcycles, and spening time in the mountains.
If you see Travis around town be sure to ask him about Tiki – both the culture and his cat.
Territory Sales Representative, North Bay
Julie joined JVS imports in 2023 after 4 year in the adult beverage industry.
Julie was born and raised in Bordeaux, France. At university, she studied Japanese, English, and wine & spirits. While working in wine imports in Hiroshima, Japan, Julie tried a lot of local drinks and fell in love with Japanese spirits . She completed her sake sommelier education and was hired at Kamoizumi shuzo in New Zealand in 2018 where she was in charge of the sales and marketing of a Japanese company beverages.
In 2019, Julie’s passion for high-quality beverages brought her to San Francisco, where she continues to expand her knowledge and share her love for craft spirits, wines, and sakés.
San Diego Market Manager
Ram is San Diego’s Market Manager for JVS. Ram joined JVS Imports in 2019 an alrready stalwart figure in the San Diego bar community.
Ram is the founder and owner of Boy Drinks World, San Diego’s own local cocktail bitters company. He also created and produces the annual Bartender’s Battle at Tiki Oasis which showcases Southern California’s bartending talent to the global Tiki community.
He has been a bartender, a bar consultant, a bar manager, a casino floor supervisor, a project manager, and an Army Infantryman but he has found his home at JVS.
When he isn’t showcasing the JVS portfolio Ram can be found riding his skateboard or surfing in the California sunshine.
Inland Empire & Orange County Sales Representative
Gerrit joined JVS in 2021 having been in the beverage industry since 2000.
With over 13 years sales experience he says he’s “excited to be working for a small business that’s in a position to help other small businesses”.
Gerrit is most passionate about whisk(e)y, simply put because after all “whisk(e)y is the water of life!”
Sales Representative - Los Angeles Market
Josh joinded JVS Imports in 2020. He has spent his 20 year career experiencing all sides of the beverage industry. He began his epic journey in various bars, restaurants, and working events. As Josh developed, he earned further responsibility managing cocktail programs, consulting new businesses, and placing in various cocktail competitions. After gaining recognition for his utilization of exotic spirits like Chinese baijiu, he was offered various ambassador and sales roles to engage both consumers and beverage professionals alike.
Josh is infatuated with every palate quenching experience, and extends his love in presenting to anyone interested in seeking the same through JVS Imports. When he’s not engaged in the Los Angeles Sales Territory, Josh is likely to be found cycling though the city, beaches, and distance rides as far as Santa Barbara.