Provisions owners Scott and Kala Large influence local drink
Scott and Kala Large, owners of Provisions Fine Beverage Purveyors
In the Brady Arts District, just behind Saturn Room and across the street from Brady Theater on Boulder Avenue, a warehouse sits—non-descript except for a striking, colorful mural made to look like a vintage postcard, “TULSA” emblazoned across it. From the 50s through the 80s, it housed the Tulsa Tobacco Company. Today, it is home to Provisions Fine Beverage Purveyors, owned by Scott Large, one of Tulsa’s most influential tastemakers in local drinking culture, and his wife Kala.
If you’ve worked in the service industry in downtown or midtown, you might recognize Scott, who’s been stocking Tulsa’s restaurants, bars and liquor stores with quality product for the last ten years, first as the founder of Thirst Wine Merchants and now as the owner of the fledgling Provisions. If you’ve ever had a cocktail at Hodges Bend, or a glass of Bergström Pinot Noir at Lucky’s, or a can of Alloy (Field Recordings) ‘Everyday’ Rosé from the liquor store, you’ve tasted his influence.
As is often the case in the food and beverage industry, the Larges fell into their field by happenstance.
“[In 2005] I was waiting tables,” Scott recalled. “I was at a wine tasting, and I met a wine broker. He said ‘I like the way you sound, you should be my new fine wine sales rep.’ And it just kind of happened really quickly.”
Not long after he started, the company sold to Glazer’s, a large out-of-state distributor. Scott immediately noticed a difference in the cultures between local and national distributors.
“When it was the local company, they cared [about the quality of the product], but as soon as the guys came in from Texas, it was like instantly they didn’t care. It could have been tennis shoes—it was just a product to push. Push it, push it, push it, and that’s just not me.”
While he worked for Glazer’s, Kala was writing a business plan as she finished college for a restaurant she and Scott hoped to open. But as Scott’s dissatisfaction with the new corporate culture of Glazer’s grew, he and Kala hatched another plan.
“I thought, ‘we should do this, we should start our own company,’” Scott said. “Kala immediately got to work on converting that original business plan to a wine brokerage. We didn’t really know what we were doing, we just kind of stumbled our way through it.”
They found business partners, and Thirst was born. The company quickly took off and for the next nine years they worked diligently to bring small, family-owned wines from around the world to Oklahoma, while changing the paradigm of how brokers related to the public through Kala’s savvy approach to marketing.
“No one had ever come out from behind the veil of the wine brand or the spirit brand to show that there’s a broker behind it… [Kala] started marketing our name to people.”
“I remember the first time we heard someone in a liquor store say ‘What’s the new Thirst stuff?’” Kala said. “I was like, ‘Yes! We did it!’”
One of Scott’s more significant finds for Oklahoma was an up-and-coming winemaker in Walla Walla, Washington—a wild-haired, rock ‘n’ roll tour manager-turned-vintner named Charles Smith.
“I literally cold called him on the phone, that’s how I got that brand,” Scott said. “I saw a bottle of Kung Fu Girl Riesling when I was traveling, took a photo of it, and called the winery when I got home. He answered the phone himself, and we just kind of hit it off.”
Scott started selling Smith’s wines to bars, restaurants and liquor stores in Tulsa and across the state. Thanks to the Larges, Oklahoma became one of Smith’s most faithful customers—so much so that Smith frequently travels to Tulsa to host tastings and parties, and several years ago named a limited run Malbec after his new favorite band, the Tulsa/Norman-based Broncho.
Since then, Smith has become an international celebrity in the wine world, a populist known as much for his larger-than-life personality as the quality of his wine. (He recently sold the Charles Smith Wines, LLC arm of his portfolio to Constellation Brands for $120 million.)
Two years ago, the Larges parted ways with their Thirst partners and set out on their own. They regrouped, found the warehouse, and opened Provisions in July of last year, specializing in small family-owned and boutique wineries and distillers. They currently operate with a very small crew—one warehouse worker, two salespeople, and Scott and Kala—but plan to expand at a steady pace.
In addition to 15 distilleries and a handful of high-end ciders and beers, they work with four import portfolios, including Rare Wine Company, one the country’s premier wine importers and retailers that represents nearly three dozen European producers and boasts perfectly aged wines, as well as a line of Madeira, which has helped revive production of the unique wine.
For a city its size, Tulsa has an embarrassment of riches with all things booze-related: a cocktail scene that’s fast becoming nationally recognized; several acclaimed craft breweries, with more on the way; and an unusually diverse selection of world-class wine on the shelves of our restaurants and liquor stores. The Larges have played a significant role in that.
What to drink, per Scott Large
Beer James E. Pepper ‘1776’ Historic Brown Ale • James E. Pepper brewed an American Brown Ale and aged it in bourbon oak barrels. It’s deep and dark, and could be mistaken for a stout. The taste is sweet with coffee, vanilla and oak notes shining through. The rye comes through a bit on the finish.
Mikkeller ‘19’ IPA • In cans! A whopping 19 different hop additions make this new IPA crazy complex without being bitter. Incredible.
Cider Shacksbury from Vermont • Dry and semi dry cans—one of the hottest brands in recent memory.
Tin City cans • Hitting the Oklahoma market last June, Tin City out of Paso Robles is going from strength to strength as their hopped cider is beautifully adorned with Nelson sauvin hops.
Spirits Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka • Winning the Philbrook MIX competition was just the start for this red hot American brand. Newly released Boysenberry is made from the only organic boysenberries grown in California. Certified organic, gluten-free and GMO-free grape-based vodka.
Letherbee Gin • An autumnal release that’s very sought after from Letherbee. They do limited runs of small batch gins in spring and fall. This year’s fall gin is influenced by beets, dill, salt, lemon and other herbs. Crazy delicious!
Wine Lost By Choice Red Wine from Rebel Coast Winery • From the minds that brought you Sunday Funday comes this crazy drinkable Zinfandel-based blend with eight different adventure/outdoor-themed labels in every case.
Txakoli Ameztoi • Pronounced “Chah-koe-Lee,” this Basque Country white wine is all the rage around the country for its brisk minerality and slight effervescence. Try it out of a Porron for real authenticity. So, so good!
For more from Joshua read his review of “Author: The JT LeRoy Story.”