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.

| | Comments (7)


hustler Author Profile Page said:
January 13, 2009 4:05 PM

You can't make an omelet without breaking a couple eggs.

hustler Author Profile Page said:
January 14, 2009 5:21 AM

You can't make an omelet without breaking a couple eggs.

JohnLopresti Author Profile Page said:
January 14, 2009 10:13 AM

It is true, from the other thread about the tasting room visiting expedition, much which is unsaid is part of the experience of each winery visited. It is a bit like tourism of many other sorts, understanding the architecture, the heritage, the vision of the owners.

I recall the chapel-like atmosphere in the barrel rack area at one winery with stately door on the cellar which seemed as if one human barely would move the doors' massiveness even with vast bars of steel ornately shaped into artistic hinges, yet, the doors swumg easily. I think the mix of American and imported oak cooperage added to the olfactory appeal, like the bouquet of a subtle pinot which unfolds progressively.

By comparison visits at a neighboring wineries' barrel storage areas, respectively, revealed one was much like a carriage house, dusty, more sun penetrated, the barrels all American light colored. Then there was the aged but still viable oversize cooperage at another winery with vast expanses of concrete floors on which sat shellac painted aging tanks imported from central Europe.

I admit, I am more an exploration attracted visitor than a vocal variety. Perhaps it is because it takes years, in my view, to educate the palate, and it is better to be reserved about discussing the merits of each vintage until one is well informed.

I knew some people who were in hospitality at one family winery, and were endlessly well informed, and charming; yet, I prefer to experience the organoleptic assessment phase without an overlay of excessively knowledgeable narrative from professional tasting-Barkeeps. Perhaps some day.

In these climate change days grapevine genetics tend to be the constant in a time of extraordinary shifts in weather. The buds in the vine have three parts; if budbreak occurs after the primary shoots emerge, there is the germ of a replacement shoot in the bud, but crop will be reduced. Similarly, the final germ will send forth a third replacement shoot should there be a second frost withering the prior replacement, but cropload reduction in the current season and possibly eventually longterm vine health begin to be worrisome, especially if we begin to have these regular spring temperature weeks during mid winter.

Warm hospitality, cool winters, plus mystique. Seem like an excellent blend; that, and we need more rain, looking like a third year of drought. Even a grapevine needs 16" of available moisture in the root zone during growing season, and we have yet to approach that magic threshold amount of precipitation. Maybe it is time to reevaluate new ways to reservoir irrigation water, to help normalize vines' stressful lives.

Mike Duffy Author Profile Page said:
January 14, 2009 11:05 AM

Hi, Kim. I would only be concerned about comments from people who have actually visited your winery, which the "neighbors" and D.Carson don't appear to have done. I would find their complaints more credible if they had.

I think it's commendable that you took the time to visit other tasting rooms and see for yourself.

I would encourage every winery to follow up with people who visit their tasting room, asking them "What was the best part?" and "What was the worst part?". A postcard with a feedback URL would work nicely for this.

From my (reasonably) objective viewpoint, the only "self-serving" part of your post was the first (on price), and I suspect that's what rankled the neighbors (either the $18 Sauvignon Blanc or the sub-$40 Pinot).

In fact, what the Russian River Wine Road ought to do is a "secret shopper" program for its members, which would give an independent view of what it's like in tasting rooms out there.

(that's a whole 'nuther post for you - what associations you belong to, and what they do for you (and the consumer)).

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
January 14, 2009 10:34 PM

I love these ideas, especially the customer feedback card. We've done that to a certain extent with our wines, by allowing people to write their own customer reviews, much like Amazon, etc. The "secret shopper" idea is also good and one that we've used in the past. It provides a completely objective recap of how people are being treated and can be enormously informative. The last time I hired one, we ended up buying all new stemware as a result of the shopper's feedback.

Carine Jelinek said:
January 15, 2009 4:11 AM

The tasting room is one of the best opportunities for someone to fall in love with your wine! For many people (especially those who tour wine country), wine is not only about the price or the rating, it's about the experience you have with the wine. A poor experience is a missed opportunity to turn someone from a tasting room guest into a "brand evangelist."

There's always room for improvement - but in this economy, strengthening your relationship with customers is crucial. And word-of-mouth is the best advertising anyone can get :)

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
January 15, 2009 8:25 PM

Very well said Carine!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kim published on January 13, 2009 3:49 PM.

Where Are All The Good Tasting Rooms? was the previous entry in this blog.

Time to Celebrate! is the next entry in this blog.

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