Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's Conference Time Again

The grapes are dormant, but the winery conferences certainly are not! Because March is a quiet time for grapes and winemaking, it seems like just about everyone schedules a conference now.

This year we're doing a marathon.

First is Crystal Mountain - the annual conference run by the Michigan Wine Council. It's a great way to get together with other winery folks from around the state. The sessions are always useful and the behind-the-scenes socializing is a great way to get to know everyone better.

Unfortunately we'll have to miss the biggest social time -- the parties AFTER the reception on Thursday evening. Several wineries & winemakers traditionally throw blow-out parties in their condos. It's a fun evening and a great opportunity to try lots of Michigan wine! But this year we're leaving right after the reception because we fly out of the Lansing airport first thing the next morning for Albuquerque.

The second stop for Holly and I is the New Mexico Vine & Wine conference in Albuquerque. We are both presenting two sessions there. Holly will be talking about (and pouring samples) French hybrid wines and fruit wines. I'm talking about winery marketing and events. We're so looking forward to attending this conference and visiting some New Mexico wineries afterwards.

The last stop is Valley Forge, PA for the Wineries Unlimited conference. We've always heard that this is a great conference -- lots of information, lots of vendors. We are finally making it there this year. It was so inexpensive to add it as an additional "leg" to our plane trip, it seemed silly not to do it...

We'll be two tired girls by the time this marathon is over...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Reflections On A Year

I began this blog just a little over a year ago. Our first Mardi Gras Festival hadn't happened yet (where Holly and I spent the afternoon wondering if the building would burst at the seams, we had so many party-ers).

I was still working at the museum. But my "job" here was also pretty much full-time. We were starting to suspect that I'd have to make a move eventually -- I couldn't continue at that pace forever. And I knew that I wouldn't be able to give each place my full attention as this job grew and grew.

I left the museum in April, thinking it would be easier to do just one job. Well, yes, it's been a little easier. I'm no longer trying to focus on two sets of events, two budgets, two of everything. But as soon as I arrived, we (make that mostly "I") added lots of extra tasks -- more events, more wholesale outlets, our new tasting room in the Dexter Cider Mill, that sort of thing. It's been a busy year!

My job change and its resulting changes within the winery have been the been most dramatic changes this year. But all that is really just a part of our steady growth since opening in late 2003. This fall we made far more wine than we've ever made before. Holly's used pretty much every inch of space in the cellar and on the cement apron outside. There's wine stacked up everywhere!

At this point, we deal with growing pains everday. But that's a wondeful problem to have!

Our 2nd annual Mardi Gras Festival is scheduled for this coming Sunday. We should be better prepared for the crowds. We've rented a heated tent and porta-john. I'll make even more food. And the Dixieland band should be perfect for the occasion. It promises to be a great party.

And it's been a very good year.