Fun and Balance

  • Becoming a New Team Member

    When a new client hires me, it is an exciting yet stressful time for me. I have a lot of intrinsic pressure to provide value as quickly as I can, even though in the marketing realm, generally a slow and steady approach is what is needed. Figuring out the best way to provide some immediate value to the client is, however what I strive for, then I go back and apply the slow and steady concept.  When a client treats me like a team member, it is much easier for me to figure the best way to do this. I appreciate the many clients I have that do just that. 

  • Why Are We So Insular?

    ARGH! I have been rebelling against this for eleven years. Why, oh why, do we think selling wine and managing facets of tasting room operation (wine club, DTC, tasting room) is so differnt from selling & managing any other luxery items? Just like you can teach people about diamonds, you can teach them about wine. Yes, some will be better at it than others, just like in any other sales situation. Great sales staff are great at selling. Period. Two of the best people I've ever seen work in this industry came from, respectively, another adult beverage industry and from selling BMW's! 

    We imbue some mysticism into wine knowledge and the selling and management of wine. It's just not true. Now we have an incestuous industry, unwilling to look outside. So frustrating. If we invested in training (gasp!) I firmly believe we would have a better pool and an onboarding mechanism with which to bring competant (and even great)  people into our industry.

    This article below is pretty spot-on. My take-away quote from this for the wine industry is,

    "In other words, our insularity continues to isolate us from real talent."

    Please read!

    The Secret Wine Industry Impediment

  • Aerial Doctors

    When I first went to Rombauer for a journalist luncheon in April (I was invited! So cool!), I was introduced to a new way of looking at helping the vines though a process I hadn't known about. Aerial photograpahy, or Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), has been used at some of the "fancier" wineries for ten years or so, but I had never come across it. I was in awe of all the information they can glean from these heat-sensing, color-mapping photos. It's really cool. 

    Then I was reading in my most recent, summer 2018 On Wisconsin magazine (like a good alumna does), and found that at UW-Madison, a Biological Systems Engineering team are doing a similar thing to find ways to use UAV (drones) to find where pests have invaded the cranberry crops.  Seems like they should get together and share info!

    Here's my article from Wine Industry advisor.

    Technology Advances Winemaking Practices at Rombauer

  • Millennials & Varietals

    From this months Wine Spectator online, comes this concept of a no-varietal generation. Interesting enough that we in the wine business should probably take pains to think about and let it percolate in.

    "Red blends in particular, most notably those coming from California, have seen a boom in recent years, both in volume and diversity, as Wine Spectator sister publication Market Watch reports. In years past, blends might have been identified as a Cabernet-Merlot or Shiraz-Grenache; now they bear names like Apothic's "Dark" or "Crush" and Ménage à Trois' "Silk" and "Midnight" that hint at a style. These popular brands, in the $15 and under range, have developed a solid Millennial customer base.

    At a higher price point, and possibly attracting the older and more affluent subset of the generation, are wines like The Prisoner and Orin Swift's California reds, Machete and Abstract, which take a similar approach of not putting the grapes front and center. "[It] allows us the freedom to not be constrained by a single varietal, affording us the opportunity to make the best wine possible and maintain consistency from vintage to vintage," said Orin Swift winemaker Dave Phinney, who launched both brands before selling them, respectively, to Constellation and E. & J. Gallo, who have been expanding them. Phinney believes that while young wine drinkers do want to know the grapes, their focus is more on the quality of the wine, and that they're always willing to try new things."

    See full article

  • Will Stringent AG Rules in Napa Make it Untenable to Grow Grapes?

    Napa Ag Under Attack

    My newest piece for Wine Industry Advisor took me into a realm I haven't worked with before--the politics of agriculture. As a wine grape grower under contract, I should really pay more attention. As a hobby vineyard size however (still tons of work! No economies of scale), I follow the main tenants for Sonoma County and then let the hubby worry about it. Napa, however, is experiencing some interesting politicking on their AG front. An initiative to "protect" the oak woodland watershed is at the crux of the matter. Those “for” have had a lot of say, so this article was commissioned to present the “against” side. I found it quite interesting to do the research for it, and talk with the “against” people. It made me wonder just how far we could eventually go in Sonoma County.