July 09, 2010

Continuing adventures...

My head's spinning from everything that's going on in my wine world these days. I have a page long to do list for Vincent Wine Company tasks that's a little intimidating in scope but kind of cool because this is exactly what I want to be spending time on. Pardon me as I process out loud, so to speak.

First and least fun, I got through all the licensing paperwork for the city of Portland, the state of Oregon and the feds. Now I'm renewing my LLC, filing quarterly payroll reports even though I have no payroll, and dealing with something that came in the mail about monthly tax of some kind or another. I'll figure that one out soon enough. Don't get into making and selling wine if you think it's all fun. In some weird way, I'm still enjoying anything that's contributing to moving forward in this project. That will fade I'm sure, but for now it's all good.

Really, my issues start with bottling the 2009 wines later this summer. We're designing labels, which are done but I'm still waiting for web ready jpegs to share with you all. Then there are the printer bids for the labels, the bottle suppliers, cork suppliers, capsule suppliers, the data for the labels themselves, and plans to do final blends for the two bottlings I'm planning. Most of the 2009 wine will be an Eola-Amity Hills AVA blend of Pinot Noir, with a single barrel of Zenith Vineyard Pinot Noir serving as the "reserve" level wine. I'll do a blending trial with friends next week to taste through all the barrels critically and really see what we have. I don't expect any surprises, but it's still a good exercise to go through. Then we'll blend, run the final alcohols and pH for the wines and see how the sulfur dioxide levels are. By the end of August everything will be in barrel.

People always say it's a lot easier to make wine than sell it. So I also have a ton of things to do to get the word out about these wines. We're working on a banner graphic for a new website for Vincent Wine Company, which I'll announce as soon as I can. That banner will also go into an email template, which we'll use to send out a futures offering on the 2009s later this month. Get on the email list to get in on the special pricing with that offer. Email me at vincentwines[at]gmail[dot]com. I'll also be setting up a Facebook page with that banner graphic, so once we have the banner (soon, right?), lots will be happening. For email, we'll use MailChimp, which seems pretty low key and downright cheap.

But enough about 2009, that's so last year. What about 2010? There's weather to worry about, winemaking supplies to get and harvest plans to make. Oh my gosh, the weather's been crazy this year. We had a very early start to the growing season with mild winter weather and budbreak at the end of March into early April. That's a couple weeks early or more. Then spring, one of the coldest and wettest on record. From two weeks early, we're now maybe three weeks behind on flowering. That usually happens in mid-June. The pinot vines locally are still finishing up flowering here on July 9. With 100 days or more from flowering until harvest, we'll need nice October weather to have everything go well. No need to clear the schedule much in September. We won't be picking too early. Of course, later harvests like 2008 and 1999 can make for excellent quality. We'll need to get lucky and have the usual October rains hold off, for the most part anyway.

Still, I'm in high gear getting ready for harvest. There are barrels to buy, barrel racks to buy, fermenting bins if I can find a good deal, and whatever else I'll need for harvest. There's also the good advice to make a fermentation plan. Even if you don't plan to do to much when making your wine, it's good to map out what you think or hope will happen, so at least you know when you're totally winging it. Things can get crazy at harvest, and minds can wander. With that in mind, I find I need to get mentally ready, whatever that really means. Basically, I try to go into harvest with a clear mind and normal heart rate. There's so much you can't control and my goal is to not control things so much. So I focus more on controlling myself and seeing if the grapes can do their thing. Call that marketing bullshit if you want. It's really how I approach all this.

That's not everything, but I'll spare you the rest. Indeed, this is all great. I'm so excited about this project. It's just a little crazy, just a little bit crazy. That's the way I like it.

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