January 2009 Archives

The thing about growing up with parents in the wine business is that it doesn't seem very glamorous. Dinnertime talk about inventories, sales results, wine scores, distributor problems, financial hurdles, upcoming business trips, water rights issues, crop loads, frost protection, the cost of barrels, or personnel problems are not very enticing to a youngster. Throw on top of that the 24/7 nature of the business and endless up and down cycles, and it's a miracle anyone ever convinces their offspring to sign on. I know, as this was how I was raised. And, it took years before my own parents finally convinced me. (Frankly, I don't know how the European families have been doing it for all those centuries.) Kim and daughter Taylor at the SAG Awards - Click to enlarge

Flash forward to 2009 and I'm in a similar bind with my eldest. She's an intelligent, beautiful, charming and self-assured young woman who would be quite an asset to our winery. And, she has one of the most important skills of all, the power of persuasion and negotiation. Boy, would I love to put her in front of the toughest wine buyer. “What do you mean, you already have a Zinfandel on your list?”

So, for my daughter's 16th birthday, I took her to the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It was the 9th year that our wines were featured exclusively at the SAG Awards and I figured if any wine event would entice her, this would be it.  Never mind that it's nothing like the real wine business.  Never mind that it only happens once a year. This was fantasy time. And, boy did it do the trick. Suddenly, mommy's job seems pretty darn cool. Maybe even something to consider for the future?

Hmmm, maybe we'll make it to the third generation after all. There's hope anyway. And, that's enough to get us through a few more years, if not decades.
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Tomorrow marks a truly historic occasion. It's a turning point in our family and a day of great celebration. We'll be entering a whole new era and I, like others in my family, am filled with intense pride, hope, and optimism for the future.  

I'll bet you think I'm referring to Barack Obama's historic inauguration. Wrong!  It's actually our daughter's 16th birthday. All in all, a perfect day to crack open some very special wines to honor such a memorable occasion. And, with inauguration day falling on the same day, a celebration is definitely in order.

A lot of people I know have more wine in their cellar than they know what to do with. They've been buying wine for years and slowly the cases have started piling up. (It's kind of like women's black shoes. No matter how many we have, we always need more!)  Frankly, most people forget to open these wines preferring to “save” them for a special occasion. Or, they fear opening them altogether, believing that they'll be disappointed, they won't be able to replace them, etc. These are all good excuses, but the problem with this notion is… well, wine is meant to be enjoyed!  Even Thomas Jefferson said, “Good wine is a necessity of life”, so why wait for that once in a lifetime occasion before uncorking something rare and unusual? Why not make today a more memorable one, by opening a treasure that has been quietly tucked away in your cellar, closet, etc.

With that in mind, we've slowly started drinking our older wines. I figure it's a good recession strategy and an environmentally responsible (with recycling and all) thing to do. We've gone through the ‘80s, flirted with the 90s, and are now dabbling with the early 2000's. We've had some winners, along with the occasional dud. But it's the anticipation and excitement that comes with opening something you've been saving that is especially gratifying to the eager wine lover. So, I say start opening those bottles and see what mysteries await. Don't worry if they're over the hill. Just crack open another. And another. After all, that's what you bought them for.

And once you've made a dent in your cellar, go out and buy some more. I call it the Wilma Stimulus Package.  Because what's good for your cellar is good for our industry!

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Who would have known that my last post would create such a stir? Obviously, what I was attempting to say and how several readers interpreted it, was off kilter. It goes to show you how vulnerable you become in the blogosphere. To some degree it's uncharted waters for us bloggers. (It certainly takes a thick skin and broad shoulders to weather this stuff.)

The truth is anyone who knows me or my family, knows that we care deeply about our customers, our employees, our neighbors and the good of the community in general. Despite the implications of my “neighbor,” I am not some self obsessed wine diva sitting on my throne looking down upon my competitors. The last thing I intended was to offend someone by sharing my recent wine tasting experience. On the other hand, I'm a “tell it like it is” person. And if I think readers can learn from my own experience, I'm going to share my thoughts. Isn't that the whole point of blogging anyway? To share insights, stories, and perspective for others to gain knowledge, entertainment and information. If it creates good dialogue, then all the better.

On a completely different subject, Mother Nature is playing tricks on us again. Yesterday's temperatures were in the low ‘80s. Today is gloriously warm again. How will this unseasonably warm weather affect the grapevines? It's hard to say and depends on how long it lasts. If it continues to be warm, bud swell could begin, signaling it's time for the grapevines to wake up. Then if we have a frost, those little buds are at risk of frost damage. So, while it sure feels good to get a dose of sunshine, I'm hoping things return to normal for the remainder of the winter months.

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Is it too late to say “Happy New Year?”  Naahh...Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you all had a restful and joyful holiday season. This year I vowed not to get caught up in the stressed out frenzy associated with Xmas. Instead, Santa sent us on a trip to Mexico where Wilma imbibed on numerous cervezas and a shot or two of tequila. (I find it's always good to cleanse the palate with non-grape based products from time to time.)

All in all, it was a great way to “check out” as the winery was essentially closed. Not a cellar rat was stirring, not even a mouse.

Shortly after, we had family visit for New Years. One of the things they were dying to do was go wine tasting. What a concept! Believe it or not, I rarely get out to do this anymore. It's a crying shame really, to live right dab in the middle of wine country and not take advantage of the many tasting rooms that are open to the public. I had a fascinating day and it gave me plenty of ideas for our own tasting room as well as solidified a few things I already know about Dry Creek Vineyard.


  OUR WINES ARE SO DAMN CHEAP! Honestly, people will NOT find better wines for the money in the surrounding area.  While out wine tasting, the least expensive white I found was $18. And that was for a mediocre Sauvignon Blanc. People can come here and have a FANTASTIC Chenin Blanc for $12. Same is true for the reds. I was on a Pinot mission so many of the wineries I visited specialized in that varietal. Pinot Noir tends to be pricier due to its finicky nature, but still one shouldn't have to get sticker shock to find a good one. On average, I had to pay $45-$50 for a good bottling. Again, and not to toot our horn too much, but we have OUTSTANDING red wines that range from $17-$30. And for the luxury crowd, our $40 Mariner blend and $55 Endeavour Cabernet Sauvignon are unbeatable.



  WE HAVE THE BEST TASTING ROOM STAFF AROUND! Not one place I went passed my “meet and greet” test. In other words, as a visitor, I expect to be greeted warmly with a friendly smile and enthusiastic host. I want to hear the history of the winery, the passion of the owners, the philosophy of the wines, and all the stories that make this industry and our product (wine) so special. I shouldn't have to drag this info out of them.  Yet, with just one exception (Arista Winery), this is exactly what I had to do. Unforgivable, in my opinion. And at one place, the guy behind the bar actually had the nerve to check his cell phone while I was standing right in front of him!!! Where's his pink slip?



WE HAVE ONE OF THE PRETTIEST WINERIES AROUND! Most of the wineries we visited were fairly new. While nice, some felt more like a Pottery Barn than a winery. And, one was stuck in a time warp, as if nothing had changed since 1978. While there are things I want to fine-tune, we really do have a lovely facility.  Thirty-seven years has given us a fine patina. Established shrubs, landscaping and gardens welcome our guests. Our Loire inspired architecture feels welcoming yet impressive. And the entrance proudly showcases all the years of passion and and hard work that have been put into making each and every bottle. I'm sure I sound biased, but after a long day of tasting I was proud to come home.

I can honestly say that Dry Creek Vineyard offers one of the most rewarding tasting room visits around. I always believed this, and now have the first hand experience to back it up. In today's economy, people expect unparalleled quality along with GREAT value. Well I say, bring ‘em on. We are the place to come! Drink Dry Creek! And, if you feel otherwise, I WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT!

P.S. I'd love to hear your suggestions for other “must visit” tasting rooms. After all, I have a New Year's resolution to uphold - more tasting of course!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

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The Merits of Meritage
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