Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Help I've fallen in my vineyard and can't get up!

In addition to Stefania Wine, we also run Two Gringo's Vineyard Management. Two Gringo's is really just a sub-company that we manage the vineyards we produce grapes from for Stefania Wine. I've never advertised Two Gringo's past a link on the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Page and a small website.

Still, every year I get 25-30 calls from people looking for help with their vineyard projects. Mostly these calls are pretty easy to say no to. They are looking for help outside our area, or they want something specific done like changing posts out in the vineyard. If the vineyard project doesn't fit into the long term plans for Stefania Wine, I just refer them to someone else.

I also get calls on large projects 20-30, even 100 acres. Again it's pretty easy to turn down. Stefania Wine is going to make small lots from specific vineyards until we have our own estate vineyard. Producing 20,000 cases is not what we are after.

Every now and then though a call comes in for a site and a situation that really makes sense, and we'll take on a new project. Usually just one new project a year and it fits in with what we are already doing.

I also get emergency calls sometimes, and I just love growing vines so much, that I can't say no. Last summer Stef and I went down to San Martin for some emergency consulting on a small family project that was struggling with over vigor and Powdery Mildew. We couldn't save the crop for them last year, but we got them back up on their feet, and they phone us now for help and guidance. I suspect they'll get a good crop of 2-3 barrels this year.

I got another call like that yesterday. A homeowner with a one acre Cabernet vineyard in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. He's got two year old vines and he doesn't know how to prune. I couldn't help myself. Not only is it almost too late to prune, but if he does it wrong this year, he'd be better off to rip out the vineyard and start over than try and correct the problem next year. It's a hard concept for most people, but with grape vines fixing a problem can take just as long as starting over, 2 or 3 years.

So we sent out a note to some close friends and put a little crew together for Saturday, and I hope we can save this little vineyard. It might not be one we keep long term, but I really think one successful vineyards in the hills is one less McMansion, and that's worth it.

The volunteer crew will get some home made Osso Bucco, and a lot of great wine as a reward too, and any excuse for a party ain't bad either.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Newsletters Out

Our first Newsletter, Spring 2007, just went out. We've been busy these past few weeks with so much office work it's been hard to believe. As I sit here now, Stef is printing out order forms, which will go out next week, and trying to make the label printer work.

Something easy to forget in this entire endeavor is that it is a small business. Books need to be kept, order forms printed, mail sent out, forms completed and 100's of other tasks that go with running any business. We joke a lot about being the 'Accounting Department' and 'Shipping Department' as we sit in the office at home.

This weekend though we'll be back out in the vineyards doing spring work, and Monday looks like we are set for bottling. It will be really nice to step away from the desk and get outside, or into the winery and smell the smells.

It's not all drudgery though, the nice part about being at home.... We just opened a bottle of wine to sip on while we work!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

All the Details.

I can't imagine that the second release could be as hard as the first. As we're a week away now from sending out Allocation letters, almost every thing is done.

We're really hoping that this first time is the hardest, because it's been hard. Some big details we're still working on :The bank hasn't set up our Visa-Mastercard processing yet, we're really not 100% sure that the printer can handle 150+ color letters (we had to by a printer two weeks ago). I need to finish the newsletter, but really at this point those are small things.

There have been dozens of little details as well. It never occurred to me to send out confirmation emails for sign ups until a couple weeks ago, so I've just started doing that. I had to come up with a point system and I just did that this morning. At least I know a lot of these tasks will be one time deals.

Still it will be nice to get a few sunny days and get out in the vineyard and do some real wine work. The rain seems to be catching up, and I think we'll have bud break in a few weeks, and the focus can go from the office, to the vineyards.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Save the Date

April 21st, from 2pm-5pm.

Our Release Party! We'll be at Unwined to celebrate the official release of our 2005 Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah. Mail orders will start to go out the week before that, so you may get your wine before the 21st, but this will be our official party. We really wanted to have it close to home and the view from the front of the wine shop is very close to the view on our website and the one we'll likely use on our 2006 bottles.

The details are not finalized yet, check back at our site and the Unwined site as we get closer to the date. There will be snacks of cheese and small tapas. We'll also have our wine available to try by the glass plus 2-3 other wines we like to try as a 'flight'. We think the cost will be $10 or $20 per person and both we and Unwined will have tickets.

Unwined will also have a small amount of our wine to purchase that day at $35 a bottle. It's very likely to be the only retail sale available as it looks like the rest of the wine will be sold directly by mail order and go to a few select restaurants.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bottling Date Set.

The question Stefania and I have heard more than any other is: "When will you have wine?". I think I even remember one of the neighbors asking that as we were digging holes in the yard to plant our first vines six years ago. Now there's a date. Monday February 26th we'll be bottling our 2005 Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah.

Everyone should be able to watch live by following the cam link at

We'll both be there through the day.

The wine will need to rest for a bit after bottling, then we should start sending it out in April and May. We'll have an official release in mid April and a party somewhere in San Jose to celebrate. More details coming soon!

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I've had a few questions asking if we are going to offer magnums or half (375ml) bottles.

We're not going to have half bottles this first year. It was price prohibitive to have them. With such a short production run, switching over the bottle line was going to add a big cost to half bottles and they would have ended up having to be priced at $25 or so. With 400+ case scheduled for the 2006 vintage though, we should be able to start offering half bottles next year.

Magnums were a little easier to do. Basically those are hand filled and hand corked, so the bottling line does not have to be stopped and switched over. We'll have six magnums total of each 2005 wine.

We're not going to offer those for sale. We'll keep a couple for ourselves and the other four will be given out as gifts. Right now I'm coming up with a 'rewards' point system. Something like Sea Smoke uses, giving their customers points for each purchase, length of time on the list and referrals. I'm also thinking that if people fax or email me receipts from restaurant or retail purchases, I'll include points for those purchases.

The four magnums will then be a gift to our best customers. It seems like a very small thing we can do to say thank you.