Very excited for our December release and a strong end to what has been an informative and at times challenging year for the business. In COVID times we leaned heavily on the necessity of virtual get-togethers, especially with our corporate partners. I had anticipated that continuing to grow in 2022, but I think there was a collective fatigue around the idea of drinking wine with your colleagues over Zoom. Chalk that up as a miss. IRL get-togethers came back in a big way late this year, much to my blood pressure's relief.
We skipped the wine club three times in 2021, after never missing a month since October 2016. This was due to several compounding factors. The 2020 harvest was largely short on red fruit due to smoke damage from huge wildfires throughout the west. Small producers went into that harvest cash-strapped and already planning to buy less fruit than normal because the restaurant industry and tasting rooms had largely shut down since March of that year. What wine did get made needed to be sold. The interesting white wines that usually get made because a winemaker has a pet interest in a grape were no longer available to me, and the red wines I'd always been able to source were no longer available. Wineries dug into past vintages to maintain cashflow in the absence of their typical production volume and so
Combine this with a global supply chain shortage. Buying glass was suddenly a challenge. The American supplier I'd worked with the last several years had no inventory, and Chinese glass was now more than double its previous price and four months out of inventory. Nevertheless, we're still here, and we haven't missed a wine club release in 2022 :)
We launched Tourist this year! It still feels young, awaiting its first chest hair and its first proper adult hangover. But I'm hopeful for what it can become. I made the mistake of paying someone I believed to be a friend for too long for vague, undelivered creative services on a misconstrued retainer in bringing it to life. I didn't get remotely what I paid for, but I love the name, so let's thank him for that.
We're not without high points. I did my first influencer collaboration with a famous drag queen and its success exceeded my wildest expectations. I closed a deal with Google Catering on a cold email. 2023 is looking up!
It's been a long week and it's only Wednesday, so I appreciate those of you whose attention I still have as I write this at 10:55 PM the night before orders run. I love this business. I love the wines we get to release, I love the places I get to travel to in finding them, I love that we've finally got artist collaborations going, and I love the success we've had in bringing the monthly release parties back to reality. It's been a long several years for everybody, and I thank you for choosing to support me in these times.
Our white wine this month is a 2021 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc from Petar Kirilov of Kukeri and Meadowcroft Wines. Petar was born in Bulgaria and trained in winemaking there, before moving to California in 2003. He's worked for Meadowcroft since 2008, and launched Kukeri in 2013. This wine looks like lemonade in the clear glass. It's rich, with a nice dose of acid, but packing enough citrus and melon to keep it in balance. Sip this with fresh halibut or Dungeness crab over the next couple weeks and you will not be disappointed.
Our red wine is a 2021 Cienega Valley Cabernet from Ian Brand with fruit sourced from the Siletto Family Vineyards. I seem to have a weak spot for Cienega Valley, but the wines speak for themselves. Ian's reputation precedes him as the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Winemaker of the Year, and I'm always humbled to work with him. This is old-school California Cabernet. Lower in alcohol, higher in acid, lighter in tannin, and a bit more rustic than the oaky sweetness you might expect.
We're collaborating on labels this month with San Francisco-based abstract painter Will Valle. I met Will at an Art for AIDS charity event where I was pouring and he was donating a piece. He enjoyed a glass of wine, and we discussed the possibility of trading tennis lessons for a piece of art. We've yet to seal that deal, but I love the rawness of his work and I'm thrilled with how the labels turned out this month. Until weeks ago, Will worked full-time in tech while maintaining his art habit on the side. If you're in the market for filling a large wall in your home with a beautiful piece of locally made abstract art, get in touch with Will!!
Thank you again. It's a privilege to call this my job. I hope you enjoy the wines and I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Sending love to you and yours.