She Said, He Said
She said, “I’ll take two new French oak barrels for 2011 harvest.” He said, “What’s wrong with the barrels I bought you last year? I’m not buying all new barrels every year, you know.”
She said, “But you don’t understand a diffusion curve.”
He said, “You don’t understand the word “budget.” I intend to make this damn business profitable someday.”
She said, “I’m ready to expand. Let’s add a Russian River pinot. By the way, here’s the contract.”
He said, “You can’t expand in a recession economy. You don’t even have a single local retail outlet.”
And so it goes. My unfettered enthusiasm to expand the pinot fiefdom body checked by fifteen years of entrepreneurial expertise. I don’t even have an intelligent reply, since it’s true. I just sort of ignore the bottom line. My husband dangles sales incentives like he’s convincing a cantankerous toddler to eat spinach. My dream of growth and new fruit acquisition is incumbent on my worming my way into the local marketplace. He’ll consider my vineyard expansion program after I sell more wine. But I just can’t seem to shake the summer blah’s.
It all started with my “2011 Sustainable Harvest Improvement Timetable,” also known as S.H.I.T Expansion. Within days of moving to town, I’d already lined up vineyard meetings to scout out sites and expand our offerings. I really clicked with one family owned operation that both sells their own fruit and also manages a bevy of other well-known vineyards around the county. They kindly offered to work with me, to make my one-measly-ton-of-fruit plan a reality. It was all good until he asked if I needed my husband’s permission first. “Of course not,” I rakishly replied. ‘I am the winemaker, and he just writes the checks.” Which was just about when I was vaporized by a thunderbolt from heaven. The next day I had to backpedal and rescind my handshake deal. I couldn’t expand until I’d sold some wine in Sonoma. “Maybe next year,” I told him. I tossed in some homemade biscotti for his efforts.
Since moving to Healdsburg, my proclivity for neurotic expression through REM sleep has intensified. In my latest recurring nightmare, every restaurant in Sonoma County refuses to buy Bruliam. After all, we live at the cross roads of the Dry Creek, Russian River, and Alexander Valleys, where restaurants have hundreds and hundreds of world class wines at their disposal. Wineries outnumber eateries by about 10,000-to-one. Competition is fierce, and I am the bacteria on the flea on a mangy, stray mutt. When I sheepishly admitted to a local winery conglomerate owner that, “yeah I make a few hundred cases,” she thought my aspirations were ‘cute.’ How can I possibly take a stand?
Back in San Diego, at least I was cool. Fair enough, I’ve never been “cool,” but at least I was a novelty. I had an angle. I was a SoCal girl making wine. That was enough to get me in the door at San Diego’s finest dining hot spots and watering holes. Up here, just about everyone makes wine. Even my bank teller “makes a few jugs” in her garage. I’m pretty sure that if I can just score a meeting with a beverage manager, I’ll convince her to take a case of my juice. Maybe I can just tell her that I sold Bruliam to a guy whose cousin used to live next door to David Hasselhof’s hairdresser. The Hof. That’s compelling.