Wine and football

End of summer is nigh & football season is here. As a long time NY Jets fan, I have had the enthusiasm beaten out fo me over the years and have become rather cynical about Gang-green. I honestly do not see any upside for the Jets as long as Woody Johnson owns the tea,. He’s a football-clueless, meddling owner than has literally committed franchise malpractice and alienated most of the long time hard-core fan base. The Jets are a freaking dumpster fire. If we win a game it will be thanks to our defense. I’m not going to sweat it…either way, its good to have football back.

The old tailgate crew is not getting any younger and we’ve all admitted that what makes going to the games so much fun is the tailgate, the company, the food and yes, the wine. Since the triplets are heading to college next week…gulp – we have several weekends we will be away visiting the girls for the school’s respective parents weekend. I’ve analyzed the Jets game calendar, my professional and social calendars and realized I can only make 3 Jets home games this season. I’m really gonna have to make these damn tailgates count. Life is too short…get out and enjoy it. Going to Dave’s tomorrow night for the Jets vs. Detroit pre-season game. It’s like practice for the real tailgating.

Enjoy the eclipse…

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Reinventing the wheel?

There are many parts of our lives where we see progress made towards the more convenient, more useful & more sustainable. That continues…physical newspapers are disappearing, just like pay phones & toll booths. Yet there are some things we thought were gone for good, like maybe 35mm film or vinyl records and yet… There are parts of our progress where we may come to the realization that reinventing the wheel maybe wasn’t the best idea. Sometimes old school is the best way for a plethora of reasons. The new movie “Dunkirk” was filmed on new Kodak film. Sophia Coppola used it for her latest flick. Disney just signed a film contract with Kodak for the next few years. Kodak just re-started manufacturing 35mm slide film!Film is making a real comeback. Vinyl?! It’s rocking man. Sales way up so much so, that Sony just started stamping away again. Vinyl kicks compressed digital music in the nads man. My old Technics turntable is still cutting edge technology 40 years later.

I tend to be old school anyway, for the most part. I’ve played vinyl and shot 35mm slides, along with digital for years. Why? Because an ASA 64 slide film blows away clarity, color depth & saturation most any digital camera can compose. I’ve played vinyl and cassettes for years, along with CDs and still do. Where am I going with all this?

Wine sales. I keep on seeing people trying to reinvent the wheel and still don’t see why. What makes our business so damn cool is that what still works best and always will is going to visit your customers, pouring them wine & asking what do you think about that? There is no way an email, a fax or some scratch and sniff catalog can in any way shape or form substitute the personal physical visit and personally pouring the wine for your customer, watching his or her reaction and having a chat. That will never go out of vogue. Never. I see more and more sales people out there a little lost, some seem to have knowledge and orientation, but for the most part I see the old art of selling wine disappearing due to the distributor consolidation we are seeing – they want order takes, not actual trained wine sales people. You have to show up, bring good stuff, find out what your customer really needs, be motivated, diligent & be good at following up. Remember. Old School. Don’t forget your corkscrew, notepad & pen. Cheers…

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Wine distribution consolidation continues

Just this morning I read the news that R&R, as they used to be known is merging with Allied in NJ, pending FTC approval. If approved & I’m starting to wonder why it would be, the new company will own over 2/3 of the NJ distribution market. How that will benefit consumers is beyond my understanding. I started Rad Grapes over 12 years ago when Southern bought Lauber Imports and since then the consolidation has only accelerated. The distribution is so consolidated I do not see how anyone benefits as it continues, certainly not wine shops or consumers.

The largest distributors can no longer grow sales, so the only ‘growth’ metric seems to be mergers, which only benefit the insiders. At the end of the day this presents even more opportunity for smaller distributors since the big distributor consolidation always leaves some smaller wineries with no other options in certain markets. but to look at partnerships with smaller wine distributors. We shall see how this newest NJ move pans out…

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Move to Suffern office is complete

Pfew…moving is such a bitch! Rad Grapes has officially moved into our Suffern, NY office on Lafayette Avenue. That being said, we are in the midst of our second family & business downsizing in as many years. With the triplets heading to college in August we are forced to economize. As part of that, we have closed our Wyckoff office after a little more than 12 years, in order to consolidate all operations into our Suffern, NY office.

The arduous office move is now 99% complete. It has been a very stressful, physically and mentally demanding couple of weeks, trying to keep business running while we moved. Now that all the servers, computers, websites, blogs, files and furniture have been moved and re-settled, my attention focuses back on wine sales almost exclusively until late June…that’s when we are moving the family again to a new abode, we have yet to find.

Hopefully after this next house move we can enjoy some of the summer, get the girls shipped off to college and settle into our new ’empty-home’ lifestyle. Don’t really know what to expect, but I’m sure we will adjust.

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My full plate

The next few months are going to be rough. Lots of personal and business changes coming. You think you have it rough? Ok…

First step is to close our Wyckoff office and move all operations to Suffern. Second step is to find a new place to live by June – stage 2 of downsizing plan. Third, the girls need to decide 100% which college each has picked, as initial deposits are due by May 1st. Fourth move to new house (working on that, as mentioned). Then we have some summer downtime before hauling triplets off to college. End result will be an empty house by summer’s end…somewhat anti-climactic. Although the two of us will need to get used to this next phase of our lives sooner or later. Party time?

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New wines for Spring

I find it hard to write this today, after just digging ourselves out, as I look at a foot and a half of fresh snow in my yard from yesterday’s Nor’easter, but alas it must be done…

Having parted ways with several existing suppliers last year, some voluntarily and some not, I’ve been on the prowl looking for wines that would fill the holes in our portfolio. Sometimes you just get lucky…I found a number of great wines to add for Spring; Le Jardin en Fleur Touraine Sauvignon Blanc and amazing Vouvray; The Furst, delicious off dry Alsatian Riesling and very tasty Pinot Noir; a couple of fun wines from Camargue – the Rhone Valley Delta and a really tasty Prosecco. Also looking forward to tow new Rose wines, one from Provence and the other one from the Rhone. Looking forward to the new wines arriving in April and will get samples to start tasting with my customers right away.

Besides the new April additions, I have made a commitment to a Portuguese winery from Alentejo to start representing their wines in NY come the Fall. That’s about it. I feel that the Rad Grapes wine portfolio will round out rather nicely once all the new wines have been added. Once there, I may just want to hold off on adding anything new unless, I run into a truly exceptional wine that we may be able to use. You never know, but my gut is telling me to coast for now…too many other things on my plate perhaps?

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Playing around with Linux

Some of you may already know that I’ve been a tech geek for a long time…since my Radio Shack TRS-80 back in 1979, I’ve always kept up with computers, PCs and new technologies. I still manage 99% of Rad Grapes and all of our family IT needs. I’ve been best versed in Windows with some experience with OS as of late. My Windows experience is mixed and I don’t like Apple computer hardware or the fact that there isn’t a server set up like with Windows. Well, what other options are there?

Fast forward to a nerve racking experience with my home Dell laptop over the last few months and its a new dawn. With what seems like Microsoft basically trying to forcibly install Windows 10 upgrades on its customers, I actually managed to stop said upgrade mid process on my laptop. That in turn completely corrupted the Windows Update Agent so the computer has been unable to download any security updates for months. I tried every fix imaginable. Tried repairing my Windows 7. Nope. Reinstall Windows 7. Nope. CLEAN reinstall Windows 7. Nein! You know what?! I felt like tossing my laptop through tyhe window! Fuck you Microsoft!

I’m one determined SOB. I’ve done some research on Linux in the past and after my Windows laptop fiasco, I was like, “you know what?”…Ubuntu bitch! Clean installed the Ubuntu operating system completely erasing Windows on said laptop. I saved all the needed files to copy onto new operating system. Now that I’ve been playing and testing with Linux for the last 24 hours at home, I freaking love it! And it’s free!!! Don’t know what took me so long…I’ve been working on my Ubuntu laptop, updating website and blog, emailing stuff to office, remotely logging into our server, surfing the web and its great. Very intuitive, easy to use operating system. Who knew?

Now I’m doing research on Linux Small Business Server platform. If my feeling is correct, the next computer upgrade I do at Rad Grapes may be from the pain-in-the-ass costly Microsoft Windows platform over to Linux! I’ve got quite a bit more to learn, but I’m very excited about the prospect, as a tech geek. Rad Grapes may just well be running on Linux in the next couple of years.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

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Happy New Year

First of all, good riddance to 2016. Tough year on so many fronts, from sales to the Jets, to politics.

I have many exciting things to look forward to in 2017 and I’m looking forward to getting the ball rolling with wine off course. In becoming somewhat more pragmatic in running the business, we parted ways with a number of suppliers last year and added some incredible new wines. Making sure that your suppliers are on the same wavelength as you are and thoroughly understand what you do and support you is utterly essential in being able to survive and prosper long term in what has become a more competitive business than ever.

Being able to rekindle the relationship Elixir and bring back amazing wines like Vina Amalia and Bodega Bouza were the highlight on 2016. I’ve also added a number of other amazing wines from Elixir, like Ch. Fourcas Dupre and Fernandez Gomez is a bonus. As we head into 2017 I will be adding the Jean Sambardier Beaujolais Villages from them next month.

Some other new wine additions to look forward to in 2017 are a great Nero D’Avola, some classic Serbian Prokupac, the Petite Sirah from Lava Cap and…you never know. I’m always looking for the next gem…

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Lots of changes…

Chchchchanges…for the better. It’s been a busy few months for the glorified-one-man-show, as we enter the busy Holiday season. Lots of road time and working 6 days a week, leaves little time for else. A few Jets home games have been my R & R. The fishing has been non-existent as we are in a serious drought and river water levels are ridiculously low, so I don’t fish to avoid stressing any surviving trout. Well, about those changes…

So happy to have Bodega Bouza back in our portfolio. They make the best Tannat on the planet along with some other great wines, especially the Albarino. I’ve also added a really tasty Chianti from Il Muro “The Wall”, how apropos…Working on adding 2-3 new producers in the Spring as well. At the same time I’m culling a few wineries for different business reasons – the main one being I have other wines that sell way better. Rad Grapes is unfortunately parting ways with Fiddletown Cellars, Labor Wines and HB Wine Merchants with the 5 producers we’ve carried from them. All great wines, but like they say, “we’ve decided to go in a new direction.”

Part of the issue I’ve been having is being out of stock at times, of wines I should not be out of stock on, since they sell so well. At the same time I have these other wines that are tying up cash-flow in inventory, as they’re not moving as well as they had in the past and they’re also costing me extra in terms of inventory expense. It’s basically keep what is moving and beef up inventory on those items, while culling wines that don’t perform. Common sense. In the meantime, I’ve been working on adding a few wines in categories we could really use. Some fun stuff as always, stay tuned…

One other thing I’ve been doing is targeting some new accounts and trying to rekindle relationships with a few old customers that fell off the radar. Both have actually gone well. Life is so  much about timing…

Sales have been better, than the slow-ass summer, but nothing to write home about until this week. I’ve been getting reports from my retail customers that the entire election week and especially so Election Day, were extremely busy. Drink away America.

 

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Everyone needs at least some time off…

Call it what you will; time off, vacation, R&R…for us mere mortals it is not always easy or possible, even when we are willing to take any significant time off. However…most of us, even the workaholics, like me – It’s ok, I really love what I do – have the need to wind down and get away from the regular day to day, to give to body, mind & soul some rest.

I prefer doing that with a bunch of long weekends, instead of lets say two weeks off. I own a business and that has yet to be feasible. Taking time to fly-fish when I can, going kayaking or just spending time at home relaxing, is especially needed if you work long hard hours. In the end you will always end up being more productive when you rest your body, mind & soul.

To that point, I’ve been on the beach down at Long Beach Island – LBI for a couple of days and it is amazing what a calming effect the ocean has on you. It doesn’t hurt that I got the chance to do soem serious fishing for fluke & blue fish on Friday & Saturday on Rony’s boat in Barnegat Bay. Hooked several 2 foot plus blues. What a fight! Talk about recharging, apparently we have a huge BBQ order coming for later. Don’t worry, I’ve the wine side covered for all the adults, Lava Cap Cab,Dos Fincas  Malbec & Bouza Tannat. Manly-men BBQ wines. Cheers!

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