March 8, 1999
I'm prying my head off the table with a soup spoon! We are exhausted. Pat is in bed resting--recovering. Barrel tasting has become a bigger event than Passport. About 1900 people came here this weekend to hear and see Woodstock. We sold 173 cases of 1998 futures. Last night Pat, Kate Susie and I went out to dinner. As I sat down at the table about 7 Pm, I announced that I had not sat down for two days. Susie piped up that of course I had--I did sleep Sat night. I did lay down Sat night, but I did not sleep much and that technically was not sitting down. For 48 Hrs I ate standing up, I drank standing up and I served wine standing up. I guess I did sit down twice when I sat down on the P_ _.
March 10, 1999
We're still trying to recover from the weekend's activities. Besides the great response we had this weekend, we've also taken in many new orders from forms printed off the web site. Back in June of 1998 when we first put our order forms up on the Internet, we were offering 1997 Zinfandel, Estate Cuvee, Carignan and Petite Sirah for $16 a bottle, and we received only a few orders. But in the past six months or so many businesses - including ours - are experiencing a great revolution in the way sales are conducted. Even though most of our orders still come from forms picked up here and copied to friends (referrals are still a great amount of our business) or faxed in to us, an increasing percentage of sales are now from forms printed off our web site. As almost all of you know, we are going to initially offer the 1999 futures at $11.50 a bottle ($16 for Aca Modot) through only the Internet for a month or so beginning on April 23rd. But we still expect to make a postal mailing shortly thereafter to our past customers who are not following our web site. The question is: In the next couple of years or less, will the Internet be the almost exclusive way of ordering and procuring sales?
March 11, 1999
I've failed to mention that Brendan showed up this weekend with one of his best friends, Adam. Adam was a great help to me Saturday since we worked at the same table and he covered for me when I needed a break. Brendan, of course, was also a great help and was working the "Cuvee" table. Since we were so busy, I didn't have a chance to find out what he thought of his pouring session. Brendan reported for work the previous day - Friday - and worked until 7:00 in the evening drawing off two cases of wine per barrel of the six wines we were serving for the weekend, twelve cases in all. Since the 1200 people who came through here on Saturday consumed over 3/4 of that, Adam and Brendan had to come back Sunday morning to draw off another case of each wine, six cases in all, to insure we had enough wine to get us through the entire day on Sunday. Most of the time Brendan accomplishes a great deal of work, with an enthusiasm that can never be matched. But I have to temper the fact that with that enthusiasm, he does like to communicate with whomever is near and also digresses by making many trips to the music system changing various discs. As I've mentioned before, he's almost like the son I've never had.
March 12, 1999
Pat and I do almost all our buying of consumer goods with credit cards. As a matter of fact, all my excursions to Costco are credit card transactions. Many of the customers who come through the winery are unprepared to purchase our wine with cash or personal check. Sometimes this involves a trip back to their car for a checkbook or a promise to purchase the wine by sending a check when they return to their residence. Also, a great deal of our wine distribution requires a shipment to another state. The cost of the shipment is usually processed with a credit card number through our shipper. Since we are contemplating bypassing our shipper, who is a middleman, and thus trying to save our customers some money, we are also considering the establishment of a credit card processing service. This would include the convenience of using a credit card at the winery and probably the use of a credit card over our Internet site. It appears that taking into consideration the expense of the equipment plus the transaction fees involved, the cost to us will amount to 30 to 50 cents a bottle. Pat and I have talked about this and feel that the best way to assume the additional costs would be to raise the price of our wine by 50 cents a bottle, but also give a 5 percent discount to anyone who would be willing to continue to pay with personal checks. Therefore, as an example, even though I have promised to sell our 1999 wines for $11.50 a bottle (except for the Aca Modot at $16), we would have to charge $12 but then could give a 5% discount, which would result in a price of $11.40 a bottle if paid by check. Does anyone have any feedback on this proposal?
March 13, 1999
A number of people who stopped by for last weekend's Barrel Tasting commented on how much they liked the Garlic Potato Soup and asked for a recipe. I promised to put one up on our web site, so here goes. Keep in mind that we knd of just threw this together and the cutting and chopping was the most difficult thing about this recipe -- and of course unless you're cooking for 1000 people, you'll have to downsize it a bit --.
100 lbs. of potatoes, about 1-inch cubes
Put everything in a big stock pot and cook until the potatoes just begin to get kinda mushy. Turn off the heat and serve with 45 loaves of french bread!
Next year, we'll try to get a family-size recipe together to hand out
that weekend, but as you can see it's a very basic potato soup recipe that
can be modified or supplemented by any creative cook. And as many of you
know, Dave is the actual cook in our household, so I just found the recipe
and orchestrated the preparation. He actually did the final seasoning and
cooking -- with the help of vineyard manager/barbecue man Steve Ryan and
our good friend and now soup kitchen expert, Arlene Piacente. Thanks to
all, we found that "too many cooks do *not* spoil the soup."