Thursday, December 28, 2006

"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup" or "Will work for cheese"

Sometimes it can be difficult working with a star. But after "signing" almost 30 books, Rosie is still pretty down-to-earth.

If you don't know, Rosie is featured in the new book, "Wine Dogs: USA Edition." It's a wonderful book filled with great photos of winery dogs across the United States, including Rosie and several other Michigan wine dogs.

She held an official "booksigning" in October, shortly after the book's release. We bought a washable stamp pad, and Rosie "signed" with her paw mark. After each book-signing she was rewarded with a cube of cheese (her favorite food -- as is says in the book).

Since then, she's signed books upon request.

But so far, she hasn't let show business go to her head.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sugar Snow

Coming up with interesting wines is one of Holly's passions. She especially loves playing with the French Hybrids because they blend so beautifully.

Today she's in the cellar working on a strange and interesting dessert wine. Last winter we were given maple sap by some friends, the Moores. It wasn't a lot -- just enough to experiment. Holly made wine out of the sap and it's been aging since then. Now she's experimenting with it -- sweetening it with maple syrup (rather than sugar).

It's interesting (and very different) stuff -- light and somewhat sweet. I'd pair it with a light, creamy dessert or even with a pungent cheese (the way you'd pair Sauternes with Roquefort).

I think we'll call it "Sugar Snow" -- a name that suggests the old-fashioned candy made during sugaring, or even the weather conditions that start the maple sap flowing -- and serve it chilled.

It still needs to age, so we're not sure when we'll introduce it. Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Getting Our Wine Out Into the World

We get lots of requests from our customers for a place to purchase our wine closer to home. It's something we'd like to do -- have at least one wine shop in each city within a few hours radius of the winery. That way customers can pick up a bottle for everyday occasions, rather than having to wait until their next visit to the winery. And it'll help get our name out to those who haven't yet visited the winery.

Of course, with our size, selling wine to shops creates a few problems. As most of our customers know, we have a hard enough time keeping our wine in stock at the winery, much less other locations. And because we're so small, it doesn't make sense to go through a distributor. So we're distributing it ourselves.... well I am.

I've had varied experiences in dealing with wine shops. Some come to us and make the process wonderfully smooth and easy. But for most, it's more work dealing with individual small winery owners rather than a distributor. I can understand that -- I deal with the same thing purchasing items from individual artists for the winery's gift shop.

A few have been incredibly difficult to get to. I'll get a request from a customer for us to contact their favorite wine shop. I call and call and call, drop off wine for them to taste, and they never bother to answer calls or respond. I set up appointments and the buyer is not there when I arrive. And I never know how much to push. Do I need to call them again? Or do they just not want to bother dealing with an individual winery?

Yesterday, we added Dusty's Cellar in Okemos to our list of retailers carrying our wine. They were lovely to deal with. We had a customer in common who wanted some of our wine for Christmas. Within a few days, we had several wines in their shop, including the Staccato she wanted. I left more wine for them to taste, and hope to expand their selection soon.

So our wine is now available in Jackson, Clarklake, Flint, Grand Rapids, Okemos (Lansing), and Suttons Bay. It's my first New Year's resolution of 2007 to expand to Ann Arbor, Detroit, Toledo, Kalamazoo, and anywhere else our customers request.