“State of the Winery”

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Ok, last week I promised to give a “State of the Winery” address but… well… time flies and here we are a week later. The good news is that here is what you all have been waiting for, but the bad is that time flies and now I have one less week to get my work done before the end of Winter!

As of today we have all of our wines except three — Zinfandel, Barbera and Gewurtztraminer — available for sale which is amazing given that we are almost to our first birthday and we just can’t get completely caught up. Just to let you know, the Zin and Gewurz will be available by the end of this month, and the Barbera will follow shortly after — for the first time in our short history we will have every wine we make in stock!

I think will let you know that this year’s California grape harvest was a bit down; that, compounded with last year’s increase in oil cost drove up the price of the grapes, and therefore, the grape must that we purchase. Fortunately for us we have grown sufficiently that we were able to get some discounts on our grape products, and compounded that with some savings on corks, labels and bottles — we’re hoping we can hold our prices steady at least for the first half of 2009 and most likely until this time next year.

One issue we ran into last year was that we just couldn’t make wine fast enough; since Winter isn’t a very busy time for us, however, we’ve been remedying that issue. We have started to build a sizable inventory, and that combined with the fact that we purchased 8 new tanks this year, should allow us to keep most, if not all, of our wines available all year long!

Also this year we have really improved our ability to produce more wine at a faster pace. Before you think it — No,  making wine “faster” does not mean a loss in quality —  What I am saying is that we’ve gotten much more efficient at bottling, labeling, filtering, and racking the wine. We now can bottle an average of 75 cases a week and if necessary, 100 cases a week. This is a really good thing — last year, there were many times when wine was ready to bottle but it took us 2 or 3 weeks to finally get to it. Now, we can just ramp up and get it done and move on to a new batch of wine. This year we also hope to bring in some new equipment that should help our efficiency even more. Our equipment wish list includes a new 4 or 6 bottle filler, a new wine pump, hopefully a pneumatic corker, tanks to replace all of our buckets and carboys, and a new alcohol tester. Hopefully we can get at least a few of these by the end of the summer — it’s amazing how much easier a job is when you have the right equipment!

Well that sums up the “State of the Winery” — as with most topics, there is tons more I could talk about, but for now I think that gives a pretty good over view of where we stand. I hope to be able to give an update in June, which is the time when we start to use our inventory of wine. Until then, I am sure I can come up with some other great topics for you all to read! Remember please buy lots of wine but more importantly please drink it resposibly!!!!

– Mike.

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