Friday, August 26, 2011

Bottling - 2010 Semillon and Pinot Noirs!

This week was bottling week for our 2010 Semillon (with ingredients listed!) and our 2010 estate Pinot Noirs. It's another busy, hectic time during the year -- one that's both stressful and exciting. The stress comes from the myriad of things that can go wrong, and the excitement from seeing another vintage shepherded safely into bottle.

One thing that I've learned: winemakers hate bottling. I think it just puts them in a bad mood. With all the moving parts and the unpredictability factor, it can certainly be nerve-wracking. Questions abound, like: "How much wine will we actually have?" Or: "Is the clarity, sulfur level, etc. good?"

For those of us who have to order the supplies, it's always interesting. You can certainly think you ordered enough of something, only to find out you botched it, or, even worse, the printer or the printing house did. Just last year the printing house we were using had to fire the employee who counted the labels -- our rolls of labels listed the right numbers, but they were short. The guy in charge wasn't making sure the count was spot-on. This year, we were sent the entire wrong set of labels but luckily had enough time to return them and receive the correct ones. We also had our warehouse load pallets of the wrong glass onto the truck. Luckily, we checked before we drove it all the way from Santa Rosa back to Boonville (about an hour's drive).

Mistakes from receiving the wrong glass, labels, corks, capsules or foils to simply missing the deadline for the boat to ship them from Europe are common. Talk to anyone who works a bottling line, and they'll tell you horror stories from winemakers bottling with the wrong vintage on the label to putting Malbec in the Syrah bottle because the hose was hooked up to the wrong tank.Oops! If those aren't bad enough, imagine getting 3/4 of the way through bottling only to run out of corks. Then you have a partial tank of wine now exposed to oxygen (not good for it) and no closures for your bottles. And bottling lines aren't cheap, nor do they always have a free schedule to come back tomorrow and finish up.

Luckily, our bottlings this week went smoothly. There were a few hiccups, but nothing majorly concerning. Big thanks to our friends who came up to help us work the line. And now we can rest for a few weeks while the 2010's are all in bottle and we await the 2011 vintage.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Persistence Sucks

One big lesson that I've learned from launching a new business, and launching a business in what seems to be a never-ending recession, is that things don't always align with your expectations.

I don't mean this in a bad way -- we launched our first wines to amazing acclaim from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, The SF Chronicle, Wine & Spirits ... and I could continue. We attended some amazing, exclusive events, and build a great wine club with people we love hanging out with. It's just that 1+2 don't always equal 3. Sometimes you get 1.5 and sometimes you get 5.

I've also learned that persistence is vital. And I hate that word. To persists means to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, especially in spite of opposition, remonstrance, etc. Not exactly the most exciting or inspiring word.

Persistence is vital because, when you aim for 3 and get 1.5, you have to readjust and continue on. We've had way more than our share of success since our 2006 launch, but I've feel that one of the most valuable things that I've learned is how to deal with rejection. When things don't go our way, I've learned to keep pushing forward, moving toward our goals and readjusting our strategy to get there. It's not easy, but I think it comes with the territory.

Everyone wants instant success, but it doesn't happen that way for the vast majority of people. We all go through that moment where we realize we aren't going to be millionaires by the age of 30 after all. It's pushing on, being good at your non-million-dollar-salary job, and loving life that is the accomplishment. And maybe we'll make that million by age 40 instead. :) I mean, one can always hope.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Foursight in the News & A Wild Animal Visit

It's an interesting life up here in Boonville. As I was working away a few minutes ago, a bobcat leisurely sauntered right through our front yard, stopping to smell some plants, then moving on into our neighbor's vineyard. Unfortunately, I couldn't capture one good photo through the glass. Our dog was so mesmerized he forgot to bark.

I have to give the little guy points for being tough, though. We saw him last week, being chased by a doe protecting her fawn. He was headed the opposite direction and didn't even seem to see the deer, but she still went after him like any good overprotective mother. He looked terrified once he realized that he, weighing in at around 20 pounds, was being attacked by a full-grown deer! Luckily, he escaped through the fence to safety.

Beside the wild animal sightings, I've been gathering press clippings from the wine industry publications Foursight was featured in this week (links below).

Why are we in the news? Foursight is the first winery in Anderson Valley to label a wine with ingredients (one of just a few in the state, really). We're also one of the first in the nation, if not THE first, to list on the label that the wine is suitable for vegan and vegetarian wine drinkers. We were also mentioned because of our involvement with The Wineries of Downtown Boonville -- a group promoting the four tasting rooms within walking distance in Boonville (Facebook page:

Rumor has is that we're also going to be on the VIA magazine Web site in October, plus a few we can't divulge yet!

Here are this week's articles:

Wine Business Monthly

Wines & Vines

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Houston, we have color! Just in a few blocks of the Pinot Noir this week, but at least we're seeing some progress out there. I think there's a celebration in order!

Veraison is when the grapes turn from green to purple and finally begin to ripen. Typically you can then predict an average number of days from veraison to harvest. This year, we're all very hesitant to put a number on it, but are hoping to pick by early October.

As always, we'll see!