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– havine 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, Skylar.
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.
Southern California Division Manager
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.
General Sales Manager
Robert joined JVS Imports in 2013 with a a passion for Scotch Whisky and other world Single Malts. Robert has honed his craft and expanded his knowledge base through his travels around the globe. He has truly found an affinity to Agave Spirits during his extensive travel throughout Mexico, building personal relationshops and learning the the history of their distilled spirits.
Althiough his knowledge of Agave Spirits and Single Malts is vast, to him it will never be complete and this fuels his obsession to learn more.
It is rare to see him not working on his trade. His masterclasses are not be missed as he tells the stories of the people behind our amazing portfolio and brings his own colorful humor.
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.
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.
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.
Sacramento Market Manager
Drew joined JVS Imports in 2017 after an extensive career in the spirits industry working with a variety of brands.
He is a founding member of River City Whisky Society and is also very passionate about Rum and Agave.
You may have had a chance to enjoy Drew’s Virtual Happy Hour in 2020, he had some great guests and insights to share.
He also hosts The Good Bottle Podcast, a monthly podcast covering todays headlines in wine, spirits, and beer and how they affect us.
If you see Drew out and about feel free to ask him about anything spirits related. He’s very passionate about what he does and happy to share his knowledge with you!
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!
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.
Orange County Sales Representative
Joe joined JVS Imports in 2021. He comes to our company with over 15 years of experience in the Hospitality & Liquor industries.
It all started with his first bartending gig at 19 and by 22, he was the Beverage Director for a restaurant group. Since then he has designed, ran, and consulted on corporate beverage programs such as The Rose Bowl, Pizza Press, and the Citizens Bank Arena. He also makes regular bartending appearances apart of The Mai Tai Mafia at Tales of the Cocktail, Tiki Oasis, and Bartenders Weekend.
Joe’s last position prior to joining us was with a non-alcoholic syrups brand where he was the So Cal Market Manager for 4 years.
When Joe is off the clock, you can typically find him spending time with his son, playing video games, or riding motorcycles.
East Bay Sales Representative
Brad joined the Northern California team at JVS Imports in 2021 after an eclectic career in a wide range of fields including construction, ballroom dance, journalism, biology and physics, as well as book and magazine publishing.
For more than a decade now he has devoted his passions and energy to the craft spirits industry. He most recently completed a three-year stint as Editor-in-Chief of Distiller Magazine. Additionally, since 2014 he’s worked as founding partner and distiller at Coastal Spirits Distilling (San Carlos, CA), a boutique craft distillery focused on small-brand botanical gins, absinthe, fruit spirits, and specialty liqueurs.
As a distiller Brad has developed spirits expressions for numerous brands and won dozens of awards. He is also a devoted home-cook foodie with a passion for smoked meats, curry, and cheese-making.
Inland Empire 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!”