November 2012 Archives

There aren't too many pats on the back at the top. Not too many "well dones", "great work", or "thanks for a job well done". It's just assumed that the boss man, or in this case, the boss lady doesn't really need positive reinforcement like the rest of the troops. Thankfully, I've always been extremely self motivated. I get my kudos from watching projects come to fruition, receiving feedback from our customers, and reading wine reviews that are positive. Helping my staff develop and watching teamwork in action is also a big warm and fuzzy feeling for me because I know I've made a positive difference in the lives of others.

So when it was brought to my attention that the legendary James Laube, Senior Editor of Wine Spectator, mentioned my name in a December 15 article on the Class of '72, my heart burst with pride. It was just six years ago that I sat down with him to share my vision for our family winery. I told him where The Husband and I wanted to take the business and the improvements we were making to bring our wine quality and business practices to an entirely new level.  In fact, that's when he encouraged me to start this blog - to chronicle the life and times of a "wine country insider".

Wow. Now, he's acknowledged the work we've done by actually including Dry Creek Vineyard in his story--the only winery from Sonoma County. Furthermore, he feels we make "an assortment of excellent reds and whites". I'm immediately inclined to share it with my Pop. Because deep down inside, we're all trying to get our parent's approval, right?  I'm no different. I hope he'll swell with pride as much as I am right now. feels good. Rest assured, I won't let it go to my head though. I'm not like that. But just for a minute, as I prepare for Thanksgiving, I'm feeling mighty happy and proud. And thankful - very, very, thankful.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And, I hope someone tells you "well done" too!

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For about three years now (or maybe it's been longer, I can't keep track) we've been thinking about crafting a new wine.  This wine would be the sister wine to our Bordeaux-style blend we call The Mariner.  This would be a white blend produced using Bordeaux grapes, most likely Sauvignon Blanc with a firm dollop of Semillon.  The whole thing makes sense to us given our passion for Meritage wines and blending, plus white Bordeaux would be oh so delicious and fun to have around the winery.

With the abundance of this year's harvest, we think now might be the right time to create this wine.  So, this past week, our team sat down to taste through a dozen different White Bordeaux or Wilma tasting white wines - click to enlargeWhite Meritage blends from around California as well as several from Bordeaux, France.  What we found was quite interesting and dramatic - wines that ranged from incredibly appealing to a wine that literally smelled like bilge water.  We broke the flight into six different wines and tasted blind, as we always do.  Overall, I was impressed with the line up - especially one wine from Napa that was 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillon.  It was really one of the better white wines I've tasted in months.  It's purity of fruit; its balance and finesse were all very impressive.  It was truly a stand out wine.  In that same flight was a god-awful wine as well - one that did in fact smell like bilge water.  Now, I don't go around smelling bilge water every day but good grief this wine was bad.  I often wonder - what are people thinking?  Do they know their wines are THIS bad?  I'd hate be the one on the other end of the phone fielding customer service calls for this plonk.  Anyway, the next flight of six wines was good, although not quite as memorable.  There was one wine, again, which shall remain nameless that was a standout for all the WRONG reasons.  First, it was not a good wine.  Secondly, it was $66 dollars and sporting a CALIFORNIA appellation.  Now that takes some serious guts (or something else) to charge that kind of price for a white wine with a California appellation.  Again, I've got to wonder - what are people thinking? 

As always, these tastings reveal so much to me.  Namely that our wines are truly delicious and so well priced.  We're not sure yet which direction we want go with this new White Meritage which leads me to my final thought - what do you think about us producing a White Meritage?  Do you think it's a good idea?  If you could name this wine, what would you call it?  I'd like to hear your feedback.    

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Throughout the year, we've been talking a lot about our 40th anniversary. It has been a big focus of our marketing efforts and has pretty much dominated 2012. But, I realized in the middle of the night last night that I haven't bragged much about it on this blog. Plus, I haven't shared with you the cool new video we made highlighting the occasion.

First, let me say-I'm really proud the winery is celebrating 40 years of family winemaking in the Dry Creek Valley. We have been through a lot (and I mean a LOT!) so this milestone is very near and dear to my heart. I literally grew up at the winery, as did several other people still in our employ, and we've seen the wine industry grow from the growth and glory days of the 80s and 90s, to the slug fest of international competition it has morphed into nowadays. I've seen the dreaded neo-Prohibitionists be replaced by a nation of wine-friendly folks with a fascination for the grape. Tourism and tasting rooms have become big business. Distributors have become wholesale behemoths with far too many brands competing for far too few slots on the retail shelf and restaurant wine list.  Winery travel is still essential. Good press and high scores are helpful. Producing high quality wines is non-negotiable.

But the real key to success is the ability to stick it out. Persistence and patience are vital. And at the end of the day, it has to be a labor of love. You simply have to make wines you are passionate about sharing with the world. How they end up on the dinner table is the hard part.

Oh yeah, and a good dose of humor helps too.     

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2012 is the previous archive.

December 2012 is the next archive.

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The Merits of Meritage
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