Like many businesses these days, we have several operating forecasts for 2009. We have the original plan developed back in early November. It was based on sales and production data from the previous year, along with projections and goals that we hoped to achieve for the upcoming year.
We were then asked at our last board meeting (l can not say enough about having a good board of directors-especially for family businesses!) to come up with some contingency budgets, just in case. (That was in late 2008, when there was still some debate that the U.S. economy was even entering a recession.)
Like our federal administration, I call them the Obama plans. I've divvied them up into several categories depending on the state of the union:
Budget A - If Obama Gets Elected (original plan and the most optimistic)
Budget B - If Obama Does a Good Job
Budget C - If Obama Does a REALLY Good Job
Budget D - If Things Go to Hell in a Hand Basket (This is also known as the we can always drink up our own wines plan.)
On any given day, I'm not sure which budget we're operating under, since business is a bit inconsistent. Some days it's rocking and rolling with lots of orders and strong sales. Other days, it's not. What I do know is there's a paradigm shift occurring which is affecting all facets of consumer spending. From cars, to clothing, to wines, people are searching for products that offer good bang for your buck. In the case of wine, the new sweet spot is $10-$20, which according to recent Nielson research data, is the only wine category currently growing. (Thankfully, the majority of our wines are priced in this category.)
So, what does this all mean? Value is in now in vogue. After years of out of control wine pricing, it is now cool to be affordable. Frankly, I feel like our ship has finally come in. (Excuse the nautical pun.) Ever since our first vintage in 1972, we've had a reputation for wines that offer solid value. And, here's where I've got to tip the hat to my old man. My father preached value since day one. Long after the winery was a rousing success, Dad still drove a modest Ford Reliant K car (ugh!) and avoided flagrant displays of showiness or wine snobbery. In hindsight, this frugal mentality was rather unpopular and may have held us back from achieving the cult status reputation to which we vintners all aspire. However, Dad was content to run his little winery under the same guiding principals that propelled us from the very beginning: Make Great Wines and Offer Them at a Fair Price.
Today, we're turning heads once again. Because, value is back in vogue thank goodness. Now it's a question of getting the word out every way possible. I figure this blog is a good place to start.