Great wine comes from great grapes. harvesting those great grapes in order to make those great wines, at the perfect time is hard work. Most folks have no idea how that’s done. Thanks to Jason Wallace from one of the wineries we proudly represent, Del Rio Vineyards, from the Rogue Vally in Southern Oregon – you can experience harvest time, without the back breaking work. maybe next time you sip some Del Rio wines you will have an even greater appreciation of the amount of work and effort that goes into a good bottle of artisanal wine. Cheers!
Life should be viewed as an adventure and I believe way to may of us are focused of the goal, instead of just letting go a little and just plain old enjoying the ride. We don’t know how long we will be on this earth and planning for down the road and retirement is obviously a great idea, but what about now? today? Just live! Have some fun.
I love wine, all about wine, the wine business, good food, great restaurants and feel blessed and grateful that I get to do something that I love to do on a daily basis, have a blast along the way and make some money. Wow?! Right? I say hell yes…
It’s been a hard few years since I can say business has been good, but after the lats three months, I can say that again for the first time since the fall of 2008, as the financial crisis and recession began. Since then it has been lots of blood, sweat and tears. Things aren’t perfect, but is life ever? Take the good with the bad and pray the good way outweighs the bad. That’s I feel so blessed and am so thankful.
First and foremost, we all have our health. Business seems to have finally turned the corner nicely. Our two young bucks are adding to sales and helping me grow the business again. We have some amazing suppliers and partners, many with saint like patience, but it seems to pay off for us all in the long run. Finally I am thankful for the amazing and mystifying world of artisanal wines that keeps my interest peaked daily and makes me strive to learn more and become even better at what I do.
There are still some of our customers that remember the old Lava Cap wines and label, as we take the newly arrived wines around over the last few weeks. I had the opportunity to taste a few of the current releases from Lava Cap Winery a few months ago and loved the wines. Clean, well made and well priced, especially so for California. That’s part of the beauty of wines from the Sierra foothills…The 2010 Chardonnay is French barrel fermented and aged, yet so well balanced with great acidity. The 2010 Cabernet is structured, with some dark berry fruit, lush and well balanced. Rad Grapes material for sure…
It was a rather quick decision about six weeks ago to start representing the wines in NY, as the busy season was approaching, but I believe a good one in the end. Our California portfolio is kind of thin, especially so with price point wines and starting out with some Lava Cap Chardonnay and Cabernet for the fall was a no-brainer. I describe the wines as no excuses, full-throttle California, just with some great balance and acidity thanks to those cool summer El Dorado nights.
Our first wine order came in two weeks ago and today I already had to re-order. We’ve also had the chance to taste a few of the other Lav Cap wines like the Sauvignon Blanc and the Petite Sirah, which we may be adding in the Spring.
Lava Cap Winery is situated about 45 miles east of Sacramento, just 5 minutes off Highway 50 in the town of Placerville, El Dorado County. The American River runs right by the winery and I hear the fly-fishing is top notch too. We already love the wines and I for one, cannot wait to visit and wet a line. Cheers!
A couple of days ago, while in the middle of downloading a WordPress update for the blog, everything froze. Bzzz! There was a fatal error and well, the website has been down since then, until a few hours ago. It sure is good to have capable and competent friends. Thanks Jon for helping me get things back up and running again.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole steam of events issues from the decision, raising one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meeting and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream yo can do, begin ti. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
My favorite entrepreneurial motivational quote. One which has kept me going through the darkest of days with my business and oh so true. Read it again…if you persevere, learn and keep that passion, you will be amazed how the pieces end up fitting together. I am…
We’ve been representing and selling wines from Fiddletown Cellars since about June 2012, starting out initially with just the Old Vine Zinfandel. Fiddletown is what may the the smallest AVA (American Viticultural Area) in existence, but it is a truly unique micro-climate that produces amazing wines with very distinctive terroir. It helps that Joe Shebl is a very good winemaker, but most all good winemakers will admit that the vast majority of the hard work, in producing high quality wines is done in the vineyard. The Fiddletown Old Vine Zinfandel was immediately accepted as a favorite by a wide swath of our customer base and we have never looked back.
Since we brought on Fiddletown into our portfolio we have gone through the three vintages, starting with the 2009, selling through the 2010 and now the 2011 vintage. The consistency in quality has been superb, especially at the price point. So what makes this Zin so special? The Fiddletown AVA is basically what looks like a small valley “bowl” at about 1800 feet of altitude at the foothill of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Amador County. The micro-climate is hot during the day, with ample sunshine to help ripen the Old Vine Zinfandel grapes, concentrating the flavors and sugars, while fully ripening the grapes with what is usually a long growing season. Zinfandel is usually very high in sugar when fully ripe, which in turn usually makes the wines big, bold, juicy and high in alcohol. Many times high alcohol Zinfandels tens to be unbalanced due to their lack of acidity, but not Fiddletown and that’s part of what makes it so special. Balance comes from having good acidity with all that fruit and alcohol. The way that Fiddletown provides that is by balancing the very hot, long, sunny days with very cool, dry nights.
The “bowl” that is the Fiddletown AVA, at the foothill of the Sierras helps concentrate that wonderful acidity that gives the wines it’s balance, with very cold nights. The daytime heat concentrates the fruit, juice and sugar, while the uncommonly cool (for California) night time summer weather gives the wines superb balance, so much so that even at alcohol levels of 14.% and even 15%+ percent, you cannot smell or taste the “heat” from the alcohol…you certainly feel it eventually though. Having such big, bold & balanced Zinfandels is the way the wine should be, but most of the Zinfandels in the market today are not as well balanced and not anywhere near as flavorful, although there are obviously exceptions beyond just the Fiddletown.
Last fall we added some Fiddletwon Barbera to the mix and although not nearly as popular as the OV Zin, we have had some great feedback…I have to admit, that the Barbera may just be my favorite out of the bunch…well, at least until I tasted Joe’s Petite Sirah – Holy Cow! Joe Shebl visited us a few months back to work the market and brought a few surprises with him – a few bottles of Fiddletown Primitivo and some Petite Sirah that he made for the first time in rather small quantities to gauge feedback. Well, they are both great wines, but the Petite Sirah is freaking ridiculous – I call it candy for grown ups and it’s beyond delicious. You will just have to pick up a bottle to experience it. I bought as much of the Petite Sirah as I could…hopefully Joe makes more wine next vintage.
In the short period we have been representing Fiddletown in the NY market, we’ve become the 2nd distributor in the country by volume. We continue to build on that success. Giddy up!
Wow…this is pretty big actually. The Wine Library is a very successful and large NJ wine retail operation that has been shipping wine to a lot of NY consumers, which is against NY State law and irking lots of NY based wine retailers….Looks like the NY State Liquor Authority is done looking the other way. No mas…
New York Alcohol Authorities Order Wine Library to Stay Out of Their State
State Liquor Authority sends cease-and-desist letter to prominent retailer; sign of an organized crackdown on retailer shipping?
New York State’s alcohol regulators have told the Wine Library to stop sending wine to New York customers. Earlier this month, the State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) issued a cease-and-desist letter to the prominent New Jersey wine store and national retailer, directing it to immediately stop selling and shipping alcoholic beverages into New York state.
I don’t spend as much time on Facebook as I used to, but I do find Twitter much more approachable, since I spend a lot of time on the road and I can keep up easier that way. I’m pretty active on Twitter and the tweets do cross post to the Rad Grapes page.
If you are on Twitter, are so inclined and wish to keep up with Rad Grapes, what we do and also keep up with the NY and NJ wine business scene, I urge you to follow me on Twitter; @RadGrapes – you may find wine new recommendations interesting, find a favorite new restaurant with my help or just learn something new and useful about wine. You are also welcome to Tweet at me…
I’ve been at this wine sales thing for almost 25 years and it’s still extremely difficult to get into the OND frame of mind, while we are in the middle of the summer doldrums. For those of you not in the wine business, OND is the wine business reference to our busiest season, as in October, November, December – otherwise known as the 4th quarter. Summer business is dead compared to most of the other months of the year. July & August are by far the slowest sales months of the year, due to all the vacations and heat; when the mercury hits 90+, even I am thinking more beer and lemonade than wine and so are seemingly many other folks. Even September takes some time to pick up, so I am more in a relax, golf and fish frame of mind at this point in mid-August, but I know better once we get to August 15th, given the years of experience…
What am I talking about? In order to reap the benefits of a busy fall season, there’s a ton of work that goes into prepping, making the presentations, following up and selling the wine. The OND season is only as successful, as we are in making the sales, pouring at all those in store tastings and making all the new placements. Even though the wine sales and business doesn’t pick up in earnest until mid-September, the time to start getting organized, contacting customers, making those tasting appointments and making the sales presentations is now. Being on the import and wholesale side, we have a much longer lead time into the season than do our retail and restaurant customers for a few reasons. The most compelling one is that our customers can order wine and get next day delivery. Ordering more wine from France, New Zealand or Argentina takes just a little more lead time for us…weeks, if not a couple of months worth of lead time, so that’s why we start now. Honestly, my standard pitch this time of year is to remind customers that September is almost here….like two weeks away, so let’s get the ball rolling.
I had a quick planning and meeting on Friday with the sales staff. George and Nik loaded up on cases of samples and are rearing to go. I’m feeling somewhat excited about this fall season, since going into the fall season last year, I was the only one selling – a virtual one-man band. Since then, we hired George late last fall and most recently added Nik (a fellow Serb, I feel compelled to mention) to the sales team. I know we can get so much more accomplished with 3 of us selling, than i ever could have done on my won, no matter how hard I worked at it. The toughest adjustment for me going from dead summer to busy fall is planning our wine shipments and inventory. Sales have been improving the last year, but they are still up and down quite a bit month to month, which still makes me hesitant to order too much wine as we head into the busy season, lest we get stuck with too much inventory and supplier invoices. The economy is improving, but slowly and in fits and starts. At the same time, we could experience a good pop in sales with the new additions to our sales team contributing a good chunk of that growth, which put the onus on me to make the right decisions and build inventory as needed in a timely fashion…
I asked the guys to give me their personal sales goals for OND the other day. If our team can get even close to our individual monthly and seasonal sales goals, this season may prove to be perhaps the best one yet in the life of Rad Grapes and will mean moving a lot of freaking grape juice. Given the fact that this Spring we added about 30 new wines to our portfolio, from France, Austria, Argentina and the West Coast, that we have yet to fully sink out teeth into, we have many fewer new wines coming this fall than in years past. I just feel that we have a nice little portfolio and we have to work on building sales with the portfolio as is, before taking the next aggressive move to add more good wine. The bonus is big; if we can pull off a great fall season, we just may be able to afford distribution in NJ as well, starting next year.
All that being said, the summer is basically over for me. It’s time to roll up my sleeves and git ‘er dun…The only real break from now until Christmas is a long Thanksgiving weekend. Otherwise it’s long 6 day weeks from here on out…wish me luck, won’t you? Cheers!