Now that it is 2015, I look back at 2014 as perhaps THE most eventful year in my life.
In December, 2013, I can unflinchingly say that life looked dismal. Though the winery was fumbling along in the right direction, there was NO WAY it could support a salary. Hence, I continued to pursue marketing consulting to pay my way. And the engagements were fewer and further between; frankly, this was because my heart was in Halleck Vineyard. So the bills were piling and my house was suffering from neglect, lists of deferred maintenance items cascading.
If you add that a great love had become toxic, looking forward was not pretty during our family Christmas holiday in Tahoe in 2013. I was practically comatose.
But I never lost faith, not even for a moment. I have always believed that the Universe is working for us. Though we might not see or feel it, we are all heading toward the light. This is about love and joy, folks. Though pain is inevitable, suffering is optional ;-)
So providence hit on the slopes. While enjoying a vintner lunch at Schaeffer's Camp, a private club at the top of the mountain, one of our Wine Club members asked a seminal question, prefaced with a statement: "Ross and Jennifer, I taste wine professionally, enjoy it regularly, research the market, and keep a respectable cellar. Your wines are among the best I have EVER tasted, now for years. Why are you not bigger?"
The answer was humbling, and I spoke it in embarrassment: "Because I don't know how."
Our guest had a simple response to my raw disclosure, "That's what Advisory Boards are for".
It was that afternoon, on the slopes of Northstar-at-Tahoe, that life started to change in geometric proportions.
Looking back on 2014, in the first 60 days, I assembled a Board, wrote a business plan, wrote a marketing plan, worked with a Board member to develop a complex financial model for management and projections, drafted a subscription agreement, and raised capital.
Then we executed for the rest of the year like nobody's business!
I am thrilled to say that we hit or exceeded all our aggressive projections, making our investors, Board, families, friends, and ourselves VERY happy. Everything worked in our favor. This is an important point. I have worked very hard in the past with dissimilar results. Many stars aligned for us: the economy, the boutique and luxury wine markets, the attitudes of our investors (all wine club members), and our passion for the work. Had any of these, none in our control, not aligned, the results would have been different. We are grateful.
So let's look ahead at 2015. We have more than critical mass in our Wine Club. It has grown substantially, so we are producing fun and frolic monthly, hoping not to saturate.
This year I have lots of travel planned:
Utah, Hollywood, CA, Nevada, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Sun Valley, and New York City.
The big trip in November is Cuba. It's in the works now, but this is my second year of planning. I will have dates, prices, logistics and a final itinerary next week.
On top of that, we have parties at Halleck Vineyard, Cycling and Paella, Steak and Oysters, dinners at Picco, Nick's Cove, and other local haunts, and will be doing barrel tastings by appointment. We will be opening library wines as special treats.
Suffice it to say, we have the jets on.
And we've the wines to back it up. We'll release 5 new Russian River and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs! :
Our 2014 Saralee's Vineyard, Dry Gewürztraminer is also on its way. We may have enough of the 2013 Little Sister Sauvignon Blanc to make it through the year. It's always better with some age. And we're excited by the potential of our latest project, Kuleto Estate Pinot.
So with unbridled optimism and our deepest gratitude, we welcome you to Halleck Vineyard. Please visit us this year. Bring family and friends to enjoy our community!