December 2018

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and we want wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season!


The fires in California have been devastating. With the loss of life and property so wide spread, it is a true disaster. In California the fires earlier in the year were in sections of California that didn’t affect a large segment of the population and there was a certain amount of complacency. But, the most recent fires in Malibu and especially Paradise have embedded a large part of the population with haze and smoke. For over a week, the entire San Francisco Bay area and the Northern Central Valley dealt with the smoke pollution. 

Thankfully, these fires did not occur during the growing or harvest season and will hardly affect agriculture. The rains are now upon us. It has cleared the air and relieved the potential of more fires in the near future. Hopefully, the rains will continue through the winter and prevent drought conditions.


From a Forbes article by Thomas Pellechia, the wine business market research and consulting firm BW166, LLC  recently reported that in the twelve month period ending in October 2018, total wine sales in the U.S. rose nearly 5%, of which almost $48 billion accounted for domestic wine sales, an increase of 4%.  What is even more important for wineries throughout the country is that DtC (Direct to Customer) shows significant growth. In that growth, second place are red blends that sell between $30-$59.99/bottle. Most of the upward wine buying trend had been in the under $20/bottle for quite some time, but this latest report indicates that steady economic growth over the past few years may be behind the development of wine buyers with more disposable income willing to spend up. In fact, red wines priced $30/bottle and up account for 80% of DtC blended red wine shipments. 


For more than twenty years, we have been attending Winery Conferences all over the country. As yet, we have not made any plans for the 2019 year, other than attending for a day to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium here in California. Over the last few years, new business at these conferences has diminished. It is always a great pleasure to see our customers at these shows, but it is just too early in the year to discuss their upcoming needs. Also, we find that most of our new business comes from word of mouth, the internet through our website, and winemakers who move to new positions and their wineries are growing or they move to a new winery. 

Last year we visited a lot of customers in a trip to the Mid-West. It was a wonderful and joyful trip that let us visit a customer’s place of business and discuss their individual needs. We like this scenario very much. Maybe a trip to another part of the Country could be panned this year. Please let us now your opinions.


2018 proved to be the biggest shipment year to wineries all over the Country. This increase is to tonnage, number of wineries, and dollar volume. Even though shipments for home winemakers decreased, our total volume increased in all categories. 

Most grapes ripened later than normal during the 2018 season. We had cool weather in late August and most of September. Sugar levels actually went down for a few weeks or remained the same. This delayed sugar development but had a wonderful consequence-- the grapes developed beautiful flavors and colors. 

We kept pushing harvesting as maturity developed and were lucky to have picked most grapes before the rain in early October. There were some days that harvest lasted into early evening but it proved to be an excellent strategy. This allowed us to store “delicate” grapes without any difficulty and create efficient shipments with the later Cabernets. Cabernets were almost the only grapes we had to pick after the rain. We waited a week after the rain to harvest them and they proved to be outstanding. 


As many of you have experienced this year, Ally is becoming the primary coordinator and communications person for the company. I could not be more pleased with this development. I could sense it in the attitude of the customers who now realize that the business has great future. We can grow together.  Thanks, Mike and Ally