It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written about life in my wine-drenched world. The 2013 harvest and crush was stressful, exhilarating, satisfying and altogether exhausting but sweetened by the help of two amazing friends, Diana and Chente. Post-harvest had a few moments of rest and recuperation, but only a few …
Last year at this time I had no wine for sale. My new beauties were all resting in their barrels and there wasn’t much for me to do but play with the dogs and explore the valley, chatting with other winemakers and developing my palette for Guadalupe Valley wines. This year, however, I have INVENTORY! I bottled what was in last year’s barrels to make room for this year’s wine and now have finished bottled wine everywhere in my house. The living room has cases stacked four high, five wide. A whole wall in my bedroom is dedicated to cases of finished wine. My hallway is lined with cases of labeled and capsuled wine that is ready to sell. Not being one to sit on my heels for long, I knew I had to get back into marketing and sales or drown in my own creation.
Thankfully I have a brilliant marketing guy on my side. Yep, you know him. He lifted heavy crates of grapes during harvest, built my front porch tasting bar with his son, Jack, and has created a style guide for Valley Girl Baja Wine that has lent polish, sophistication and a touch of glamour to my branding. London born, Chente has elevated my marketing efforts with his eye-popping graphics, attention to detail and phenomenal sense for design.
Having top shelf labels and a vision of what VGBW could be is not enough in itself however. I’ve got the drive and the dedication to take my developing wine business to the next level but do I have the experience? I’m a Liberal Arts major, kids! Business? Boring! I’m pretty sloppy when it comes to accounting to be honest with you. Money comes in, money goes out. That’s my Zen approach to bookkeeping in lieu of keeping a ledger. Fortunately, without consciously intending to I managed to make friends with a retired accountant who has tons of experience with start-up companies. My buddy, Tom’s got the background to speak with authority on what makes a business strong, and a firm grasp on what keeps a business moving forward and thriving. Plus he likes wine, and though I drive him crazy with my multi-focused experiments and shotgun approach to making money, he manages to keep me on track. I fondly refer to Tom as my Business Manager, and he … well, he puts up with me!
However when thinking about marketing in this highly competitive economy it’s possible to be completely overwhelmed. There is so much to learn in this day and age regarding marketing via the internet for instance. I recognize how essential a cyber-presence is to nearly every aspect of my burgeoning business, from building anticipation to direct sales, from developing the mystique of VGBW to simply reaching out and keeping my friends and acquaintances in touch with new releases, new products, new events and new information! Thank goodness for my tech gal, Donna. She astonishes me with the breadth and depth of her knowledge. I try to keep up and really “get it,” and she is a terrific and very patient mentor. Other times I’m more inclined to gratefully hand over the tekkie tasks to her and let her work her magic. Though Donna is not in the foreground of the business, she is a critical genius in the background, revamping, streamlining and working out the kinks on my website as well as coaching me in search engine optimization and other goodies I need to know. I love having such a smart, savvy woman on my team!
Speaking of smart, savvy women, I’ve got a new associate on the VGBW squad! My friend, Paula, has joined me on the winetasting tour circuit and is taking groups around Valle de Guadalupe. She’s lived in the valley for over six years so is familiar with the back roads and is completely fluent in Spanish. Her long career as a flight attendant has groomed her perfectly for working with people from all walks of life. She is well-informed, fun to be around, an immaculate professional and appreciates the passion that winemakers share, and the pleasure of introducing people to Mexican wine. The reviews and feedback I’m receiving are off the charts and I’m thrilled to have Paula on board.
Now that I’ve been getting steady inquiries off the cruise ships for winetasting tours, I’ve contracted with a wonderful Ensenada taxista. He is very serious about his work and very reliable. I’m tickled pink to be working with him. Bienvenidos, Ruben!
My education as a winemaker is ongoing. I would love to study oenology at the local university, UABC, someday. In the meantime when I have a winemaking question, I turn to my more experienced winemaking friends. The Magnussen’s at La Lechuza winery have demonstrated unflagging support. And I often turn to my friend and neighbor, Renato, of Legado Sais. I know from both Renato and the Magnussesn’s I’ll get straight talk, and maybe a lecture or two. They always make time for me and I’m grateful for their guidance.
But all of the above would be a moot point if I didn’t have the support to keep a new business afloat till it gets on its feet, so to speak. Dear Friends and Devoted Fans of Bacchus, as you know, my previous gypsy lifestyle did not line my coffer with coins. Last year I begged, borrowed and …. well, you get the idea. I scraped the money together for my first batch of wines. Happily a dear friend of 20 + years paid attention to my absolute determination and took an interest in my new endeavor. Two years ago I’d told him I was going to move to Mexico and that I wanted to plant a vineyard. I still haven’t planted those grapevines, but with Jim’s unflagging belief in me I’ve got a head start on building a credible wine business.
Don’t for a moment think I’m going to get all mushy on you, but seriously … looking back on the events that have unfolded in my life since moving here to the wine valley in May 2012 takes my breath away. When I give my soul a good searching I discover that it all gets down to love. Love of life, love among friends, love of the vine, of the wine, of the creativity within us, of the hope that we can create the life we want, of the fellowship we share, of belief in each other, love of the trust we endow one another with, of the inspiration to begin each day on our own terms. My team developed around me organically and in its own time and I am fully in love with my burgeoning VGBW family and the budding thing we are creating together.
I thought this post would be difficult to write (it wasn’t) … but I knew I wanted it to be about my friends, old and new, who have become a part of Valley Girl Baja Wine.
Woooo Hoooooo! And here we go …