February 2011 Archives

Take a close look at this photo. I mean a really close look.

See it?  The camaraderie. The satisfaction. The look of mutual agreement. It's the look of collective agreement...of shared visionClick photo to enlarge - Dave Stare & Don Wallace...of pride and respect...of multi-generational collaboration.

We've worked hard to cultivate this look. Me, I'm a master at it.  A whiz really. Because, I'm the glue that keeps this whole place together. You laugh, but it's true.  (Frankly, I deserve a Medal of Honor for surviving the periodic warfare that occurs in a business where the management are also family members related to each other...)  

Now that I've got your attention, let me gloat. We have been at a crossroads with the wholesale side of our business. The resignation of our national sales manager, the person responsible for the sales of our wines through the 3 tier system, recently opened up an exciting new door. As a well-loved member of our senior management team, we were sad to see him go.  However, as with all things, change can be good. Especially when it creates an opportunity for new ways of thinking and new business strategies to evolve.

After lengthy research into our options for handling the future of our national sales (Do we hire a replacement? Do we promote from within? What is the best option for the future??? What is the best option for the family???) we've decided to partner with a new wine sales company called V2 Wine Group. Founded by respected industry veteran, Dan Leese, we are excited and proud to be part of this growing and innovative venture. Dan's background is extremely impressive. And he has surrounded himself with equally impressive people, including his wife Katy. Together they are building a national sales organization focused on bringing high quality family owned wineries to the marketplace. They will be managing our network of U.S. distributors and representing Dry Creek Vineyard's wholesale interests nationally. In addition to our wines, they also represent longtime neighbor and friend Toad Hollow Winery, Steelhead Wines, and several small negociant brands. What makes this opportunity so positive is that when it's all said and done, we will go from having just a few sales people managing our national sales to 8 people, so we are doubling our "feet on the street". We will also have a key accounts specialist calling on the PF Changs and Legal Seafoods of the world...an important and growing segment of the American restaurant business.  

The decision to do this did not come lightly. And, we made sure to do it as a family, so not one person could blame the other, if things went awry.

I took this photo shortly after we made our decision. And that's why I wanted you to see it. It was a very special day and hopefully, the first of many, many, more.  I've entitled it:

Yes, We Can Agree!

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Ok, maybe it's a girl thing. But there really, truly, is something magical about being at the SAG Awards, representing our wines to all Click photo to enlarge!those stars. Ironically, I'm the last person who should be impressed with the who's who of Hollywood. Heck, I can't even identify most of the celebrities since I go to the movies about once a year and rarely watch anything on TV besides 60 Minutes. Nonetheless, our 11th year as the official wines of the SAG Awards was just that, magical.

From the glittering lights and flashing cameras, to the frenzied excitement of walking the red carpet, it's a surreal experience. I proudly chatted up the winery and mingled with the crowd while teasing the paparazzi with my big bottle...and I mean literally as you can see from the photos. The exposure was great, thanks to a very dear publicist friend who took me under her wing for a day. Without her, I would have been lost. With her, I was transformed from just another Sonoma County vintner to a glamorous wine diva... Ah yes, hard work does pay off.

AllClick photo to enlarge! in all, it was a great show. I had interviews with a variety of television and print media outlets, met a number of influential and interesting personalities, and got a lot of great photos and memorabilia to add to my collection. My favorite is Ernest Borgnine, who at 94 years old won the Lifetime Achievement Award. But most importantly, I added new fans to our extended winery family. Because when it comes right down to it, that's what matters most.

A recent email from the head of the Producer's Guild of America summed it up best:

"I loved your SAG Awards Cuvee. How can I get more?"

But I still have a lot of work to do. Angie Harmon didn't know that Zinfandel is red. Celebrities, (like others new to wine) almost always Click photo to enlarge!automatically ask for Chardonnay. And, Napa is by far the better known wine region of the state. I don't know how many times I corrected people on this last point.  No, we are not in "NAH PAH"; we are in "SO KNOW MA!"  

As for LA LA land, I'm not sure I fit in. My lips aren't poochy, my eyes are showing signs of age, and my culinary tastes veer toward savory and satisfying as opposed to slimming and slenderizing. (Something about air bread and H2O just doesn't do it for me...you know what I mean?)  Besides, I can't get used to the "you know who you remind me of...?" phrase that seems to automatically pop out of people's mouths when you meet them for the first time. What's wrong with just being me?

The weekend was filled with plenty of laughs as I sipped, slurped, and gawked my way through the streets of LA. Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. I will be forever grateful!

My new BFF's.....

Click to enlarge - Dennis Haysbert & Kim Click to enlarge - Ernest Borgnine & Kim Click to enlarge - Kyra Sedgewick & Kim
Click to enlarge - Tina Fey & Kim Click to enlarge - Christian Bale & Kim Click to enlarge - Melissa Leo & Kim
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Today marks the beginning of my 4th year as a blog writer. When I started Wilma's Wine World, I never imagined the direction it would take, nor the impact it would have. Back then, I questioned my voice. I questioned my ability to write in a meaningful way. And, I questioned whether or not anyone would really give a damn. Today, I have over 15,000 visits per month, scores of loyal fans regularly email me and comment on my posts, and more importantly, I've found an outlet to recount in an honest and straightforward way, the trials, tribulations, and tales of a lifetime spent in the wine industry. I've debunked myths (no we aren't all pinky waving trust fund kids like some would think!) and I've probably told more than I should about our business and the wine industry at large...but then again, I've never been one to mince words or misrepresent myself.

It all started over lunch and a glass of wine with Jim Laube. As I passionately shared my vision for the kinds of wines he could expect to see from us, my excitement mounted...and so did his. I told him about our struggles as a family (not all, of course) and our vision for bringing the winery to an entirely new place in the world of wine. I talked about my pride in my father's accomplishments as well as my vision for where my husband and I would take the business. I talked about the people we would hire. I talked about the vineyards we would plant. I talked about the shift in mentality that we were slowly but surely shaping from within our organization as we reinvented ourselves for the future.  We then tasted our newest releases, reflective of the many shifts we had made since taking over the business: drastically reduced production, enhanced winemaking techniques, appellation driven wines, a focus on 100% Dry Creek Valley fruit, new barrel programs, new winemaking equipment, new packaging, etc. As our lunch progressed, I found myself also telling him about how difficult it is to do all this while keeping family harmony. (Generational transitions are never easy, hence the pitifully low success rate in this country.) I recounted the joys, the struggles, the frustrations, and the enormous amount of resiliency it takes to be able to go home at the end of the day and say "I love you" to the person or people who just drove you crazy at work. I told him how far we had come, and how far we were going, no matter what, no matter how long it would take. And, that's when he said, "You need a blog."


So it was with that advice that I embarked on my “blogdom”.

Click graphic to enlarge

158 posts later, I am still blogging. My voice has been “found,” and I'm even contemplating a book. It might take a while… but someday I just might make it happen! In the meantime, I will continue to plow along one post at a time…brainstorming for topics, editing my writing so I don't piss off too many people (think of the subjects I haven't yet covered… why do winemakers think they're God? How come distributors say one thing yet do another? And one that continually eats away at me… who made wine buyers so big for their britches???)

As I ponder these subjects, along with many others swirling around in my curly haired head, I'm reminded of the words of the late great Erma Bombeck:

“If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it.”

And that, my friends, is the real ticket to success in the wine industry.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2011 is the previous archive.

March 2011 is the next archive.

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