As we come up on nearly 6 full years in operation with the wine club, I find myself doing a lot of reflection. What's stayed the same, what's changed, what do I find myself liking more than I expected, and what do I find myself dreading that I have to do each month? In truth, most days I wake up proud to still get to do this. It's always been a lean operation, with plenty of ups and an equal amount of low points.
I set out to sell two new wines each month, and with a few exceptions in 2021, we've done that 69 out of the last 72 months. We've worked with nearly 100 producers, releasing over 150 wines in the process, meeting incredible people and enjoying fantastic wines in the process. This was the business plan I put in front of prospective investors in 2016, and it's an accomplishment I cherish six years in.
We discovered an untapped world of corporate partnerships and private label opportunities, something that started as a low-cost effort for cash flow and the chance to get in front of people as a company that had no marketing budget to speak of. We've worked with over 50 corporate clients, some of the biggest companies in the world, and have seen that side of the business grow nearly threefold in the last 2 years.
On the less fun end of things - I've separated with a business partner, survived frivolous lawsuits, weathered a pandemic, worked with contractors who oversold and underdelivered, and nearly run out of money more times that I care to remember.
This past month I moved out of the apartment I've lived in for the last 5 years (a happy move, hi Monica <3), moved my inventory to a warehouse in Sonoma, and set up for bottling in a new winery space in Richmond. Money is still tight, but I love the direction we're headed in with Tourist, and the end of the year is always our busiest season in the corporate business.
I was never obsessed with tasting wine as an academic endeavor. I appreciated the process, I appreciated the places, I appreciated the people and I appreciated the stories and the history. That's still the case. I'm not great at getting my accountant her inventory numbers on time, or getting through my to-do list every day (I think I need to set more reasonable expectations). I also wish I did more writing and story-telling like this. So I will. If you enjoy these kinds of thoughts from me, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a note, let me know what you think, and if there's anything you're curious about that you might like me to expound upon.
There are also wines to enjoy this month, but thank you for bearing with me for the stream of consciousness that was coursing through me as I bottled the latest Rosé last week.
We've worked with Micah Wirth a few times, repeatedly buying his Alexander Valley Rosé of Zinfandel. He had a bit more, but he also had some 2020 Dry Creek Valley Rosé of Mourvèdre from the Unti Vineyard. Unti is up there with Tablas Creek and Bonny Doon and Mount Eden and just cool as hell old-school producers who've done things the right way for a long time. The Rosé is about 75% of the Alexander Valley Zin we've done before, and 25% of the Unti. What I was amazed at was how this addition transformed the wine. It went from a pale clear pink to a sort of hazy, peachy salmon. I found that the fruit popped a bit more in the glass, and that the acid (while still clearly there) softened just a touch. It's a thrill to work with fruit from Unti and to work again with Micah, and I hope you enjoy the wines.
If you've known me for any amount of time, you know that I have a very soft spot for both Kenny Likitprakong and Lolonis Family Vineyard. We've sold several bottlings made by Kenny off fruit from Lolonis, and have sold two bottlings made by Lolonis themselves. We first released this 2019 Redwood Valley Valdiguié in August of 2020, and it's a treat to revisit it two years down the line. Valdiguié is a bit of an oddball grape, with under 1000 acres planted in California, but it's been steadily gaining in popularity among newer producers in the last 5-10 years. Kenny makes Valdiguié, Michael Cruse makes Valdiguié, Broc makes Valdiguié, there are several Valdiguié-based Pet Nats out there... you get the picture. It appears dark in the glass, but tastes nothing like it looks. Clocking in at 11% ABV, the acid is still ripping, and notes of tart cranberry and pomegranate pop off in the glass. I enjoy it with a nice chill. As ever it's an honor to work with Kenny, and I hope you enjoy this wine as much as I do.