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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This Rose craze…

You may reading or hearing about the rise in popularity of Rose, or you may be just unwittingly contributing to the recent craze just by drinking and enjoying some Rose wine. What’s going on? Why has Rose become so popular?

I explain it as a generational perception dislocation. Until recently most Americans older than 45-50 had the inherent perception that most if not all Rose was like White Zinfandel, as in sweet. As many ladies or guys that enjoyed or were introduced to wine drinking with White Zinfandel, it also turned off what I think are several generations, like boomers and Gen-Xers to Rose. Most, I said. Back when i started selling wine and for a number for years it was an uphill battle selling too much fry Rose from anywhere. Well what do you know? Those age groups, have been slowly converted to the dry-side and is certainly part of where the growth in sales comes from. The other is Millenials. They are the most adventurous wine drinking generation I have ever seen, especially so in this ‘globally saturated’ NY wine market. That is a good thing for wine drinkers with an adventurous palate. Try anything! Rose? The selection is most wine shops is staggering. 15, 20 maybe 25 different Roses from all over the world. Years ago selling just Provencale Rose was tough. Now if you have good juice at a good price, it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

That leads me to talk about shortages of Rose. These wines are usually not made in huge quantities. Those producers that released early in March are running out. That leaves room for us, since we tend to add Roses later than a lot of other people, literally waiting for ‘Rose weather’. The advantage to that is that at this time of summer when our customers start running out of a Rose or two, we’ve got inventory, usually well into the Fall and can come to the rescue. I must add that I refer to our Roses as #BRoses. Refreshing, delicious fruit, with amazing acidity, good structure AND length. I hate wimpy Roses…

Here’s what we have in stock now guys:

2015 La Villa Real Tempranillo Rose – La Mancha, Spain

2015 Del Rio Vineyards Rose – Rogue Valley, Oregon

2015 Domaine Bel Eouve – Coteaux D’Aix en Provence, France

Rad Grapes wines aren’t everywhere, but can be found all over NY state…if you can’t find something shoot me an e-mail or call.

 

 

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Old friends coming back…

A few years back, and for several years Rad Grapes represented the Vina Amalia wines from Carlos Basso in NY. The line we originally sold included the Vina Amalia Malbec Reserva and the Vina Amalia Cabernet Reserva. These were not wines that I imported, but bought from and importer to distribute in NY. The quality of the fruit and winemaking is fantastic. One of the disadvantages (and not always) of buying wine from other importers to sell, is that they can sometimes switch distributors and not for lack of sales either…like a political thing or a new general manager comes in and poof…well that’s exactly what happened to the Vina Amalia wines. We lost them…

Long story short, the distributor where the wines went didn’t get the job done. Nothing close to what I had sold. I was asked to take the wines back AND a few years ago Carlos Basso and his son Adolfo have added a number of new wines. Not only did we get the Vina Amalia wines back, but added to the mix are the Dos Fincas Malbec, Dos Fincas Sauvignon Blanc and the Dos Fincas Chardonnay. Bonus.

You know of my belief that 90% of what makes a good wine is the vineyard and quality of the fruit. We got that. Finca La Amalia where the Vina Amalia Malbec Reserva comes from is also the source for Dos Fincas Malbec fruit. Located in Altamira, San Carlos, south of Mendoza this 40 acre vineyard is planted 100% to Malbec. Warm days and cool night give the fruit great balance and expression.

Finca Los Montes Negros is located at over 3700 feet of altitude in Los Arboles, Tunuyan, Valle del Uco Mendoza and is planted to a total of eight varietals spread out over 200 acres of vineyard. Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay for Dos Fincas also sourced from there. Amazingly clean and balanced fruit across the board. The fruit is all hand picked! I also like the fact that the oak used is all French, making the wines tasting like much more classical examples of the varietals. Great for sipping and even better with food.

Tasting is believing. Search the wines out…

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