Last year I had a series of postings about our results and business planning. I started with an update on the state of the wine industry that I mentioned our Q1 results in. I then followed up with our Q2 results in another post.
Those two generated a lot of conversation with regular readers and followers of the blog so I wrote two more pieces. One about our business planning and then a follow up when the plan was complete.
Stefania hasn't totally finished closing out the books on Q4 and 2010, but she's close enough to get me a few numbers to share. We finished the year with record revenue from wine sales (I track vineyard revenue too, but separately). We were up 61% in total. I had predicted a conservative estimate of up 40%, but thought 60% might be possible.
Wholesale sales were up 283% from 2009. I guess I was right. We could do a better job than the distributors I fired in 2009, 283% better. Everything was a new high for us in 2010, direct sales, wholesale and total.
At our meeting in September we had three options for 2011. One was to finance and build out a complete new winery operation. Option two was to build out a partial winery operation, keeping crush and fermentation at Chaine d'Or and moving storage and bottling to a new facility. The third option was to focus on debt reduction and paying ourselves back some of the money we've invested so far.
For right now we're going with option three. Stef is now getting a paycheck and we're committed to paying me back for all expenses I have in 2011. We'll use that to pay off debt we've used so far to finance the winery. We'll reevaluate at the end of Q1 and Q2 as usual and things may change if sales keep up at that high level.
The low crop levels in 2010 were a big factor. We would have been out of room at Chaine d'Or if crop levels were normal in 2010, but because they were so low we have enough room there in 2011 to meet our plans. That's taken some of the pressure off the need to expand. We also were not crazy about taking on another $60k-$100k in debt.
We'd like to see if we can get in a position by next year where we can finance that amount on our own or with a small group of private investors. The banks we've talked to are most interested in tying a loan to real estate and we're just not anxious to tie the house to the winery at this point. We think we could do better offering a real good rate to private investors in small amounts, so that's more likely what we'd do.
In any event we're excited that 2011 will be a good year.