Sunday, September 5, 2010

Three Year Blogging Anniversary!!

Today marks my third anniversary as a blogger! Three years. Wow. Three years ago my husband, Joe, and I had just moved back to Boonville. I was finishing up my last few months at Wilson Daniels (doing some commuting from here to St. Helena!), and re-focusing our energies on Foursight and our new lives here, including my new job at the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association and Joe's at Londer Vineyards.

Three years ago to the day we were picking Pinot Noir grapes (we're a few weeks behind this year) and I was doing my first blog post on the harvest. Follow this link to see post #1 of my blog.

It's been an amazing three years. Amazing. We've surpassed many of our goals as a winery, but there are some, admittedly, that we've fallen short on.


In three years, we:
- Are moving into our third release of wines from our vineyard, made exactly the way we want them to be
- Launched our brand with a Web site and a blog, then later a twitter and facebook account, and now our first series of videos (which can be seen here on the blog and on our facebook account)
- Every single one of our wines that have been submitted to the press have either scored 90 points or above in a publication or have gotten a gold medal or, even better, double gold at a competition
- Got Ozzie the lab -- now the most famous member of the family by far!
- Worked our way through the Wine Institute's sustainability program for the vineyard, improving upon our practices each and every year
- Moved into the vegan market with wines made without animal products
- Opened our tasting room four days a week and started outfitting our winery in the back (we're picking up the baby ozone machine this week!)
- Joe and I got married and took our honeymoon in New Zealand for three weeks
- Have poured at probably 25-30 various wine events, as far away as New York and as close as Mendocino
- Launched a wine club -- Eight High -- for our die-hard customers -- and promptly started throwing parties
- Sold wine to the state of Pennsylvania (they came to us!) and expanded our local distribution
- Have been featured in articles in a wide array of publications, from VIA magazine, New York Magazine,  the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat to Destinations -- an Air New Zealand travel magazine
- I quit my job and Joe was promoted big-time
- We got invited back to our second Wine Spectator New World Wine Experience -- one of only five brands in Anderson Valley to receive this honor

Given how busy the past three years have been, I'm sure I've forgotten more of what we've done than the stuff I actually remember.

Lessons I've learned along the way:
- Financial management of a winery is a bitch. haha. No, seriously, filling in sales numbers into spreadsheets is a tedious but necessary task that takes up an amazing amount of time.
- Inventory NEVER matches up. I think bottles of wine end up the same place as those missing socks from the dryer. Narnia or somewhere.
- Don't underestimate the power of either Mother Nature or the destructive force of the U.S. economy. They can both make you want to cry or laugh triumphantly, often all at the same time.
- If you're genuine and nice and you provide people with a good experience, they'll come back again. And again. And again.
- Don't go into the tasting room in a bad mood. Ever. You might as well call in sick.
- As soon as you get out your lunch, people will magically appear at the tasting bar, every time.
- Sometimes you have to give discounts. It's not the end of your brand image, you'll be fine, just don't do it too often or too obviously. I've even given a discount to a lady who was a little tipsy and fell into a cactus next to our parking lot. I still laugh about my cactus discount to this day. But, it made her happy and we didn't get sued.
- In many instances, you'll have a brilliant idea that could create great buzz for your brand, and you'll never have the right insurance to do it safely. Stupid litigation-happy country.

Here's a blogging lesson that I've learned: it's a great way to keep people you know and customers up-to-date on your happenings. However, the vast majority of people who read wine blogs are already in the wine business. Hence, if you blog for consumers, your blog will not be the most popular or widely read blog out there. If you're okay with that, keep doing what you do and keep enjoying it. I know I do.

Thanks to everyone who reads my little rants and raves on the world, whether it's here or via facebook or a few of the other sites that have picked it up. I love hearing from you, so keep commenting and letting me know what you think. I do appreciate it.

And Happy Blogger Anniversary to me!!

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