Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays!

We had a lovely (and quiet) Christmas at Grace Hill Winery, and we hope yours was good too.

We had a huge crowd come out last weekend on the 20th, which was so fun and so gratifying, but a little overwhelming. We sold a record amount of wine (not too tough in your first year). But mostly we enjoyed the chance to share our wine with so many people. Thank you all so much! And for those of you who were so patient with us when we got busy, thank you again. We were really blessed to have friends who pitched in to bring out more wine and give impromptu tours when Dave and I got swamped in the tasting room.

When we closed up a little after 5, we realized that we never had lunch, and never had the chance to even think about it. A friend who has much more experience in retail than we do later gave us advice about how to sneak in some nourishment on such crazy days. "Keep a granola bar or something quick around at your desk, because you never know what a day will bring." I think we have a lot more retail advice to get from her, because clearly this is an area outside our experience. But we will get better, and next year we will hire some help!

We sold out of our Dodging Tornados wine, as well as our Red Barrel Reserve, so now we only have the White Barrel Reserve and the Cabernet available. But Dave spent yesterday in the cellar, getting the 2008 wines in place for bottling in the spring. We hope to have a full complement of wines back by April. Now we are looking at the other details, like how many pallets of bottles to buy and how many labels to order. And I am pulling together numbers for all my end of the year reports for the government.

We will be going to the annual meeting of the Kansas Grape Growers and Winemakers Association in Emporia in a couple of weeks. It looks like it will be a good meeting, with a solid agenda and some fun times too. Grape and wine meetings are generally much more fun than medical meetings, that's for sure!

We will remain open by appointment for the rest of the winter. So if you need some wine, give us a call.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"In the bleak midwinter..."
Actually, although we are now covered in snow (way more than predicted), it has been anything but bleak around here. We are having a great month!

Our talks at the Sedgwick County Medical Society (with wine) and the East Side Rotary (without wine) went really well. We seemed to be able to share our excitement about the winery, and it was so gratifying to see people get excited about it as well.
We have had a lot of traffic the past two weekends, and the party for the Whitewater Memorial Library was especially fun. The food was excellent! (Thank you, friends of the library- you were awesome!) Wine sales have been better than we expected. OK, we had no idea what to expect,but still they have been better.
And then on Sunday, in the Wichita Eagle business section, we had a beautiful story published about us and the winery. You can read it here, I hope: We have received lots of calls and emails as a result, from people all around the country. Some are old friends, and others are people who got interested in our story. It has been amazing and humbling to see how many people are cheering us on.
So, if you are anywhere near Whitewater this Saturday, stop in between 11 and 5. You don't need an appointment, and we would love to let you try our wine and see what all this work has produced!
(By the way, Dodging Tornados Silver is sold out.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

OK, so it's December. I didn't get around to posting in November, even though a friend reminded me that time was running out. It seems like there is always so much to do this time of year. And blogging requires a certain amount of thought, I'm finding. I always thought newspaper columnists had it easy, but now I'm not so sure.

Anyway, the big news is that the 2007 Cabernet is now available, and it's really good! This Big Red Cab has plenty of Big Red Fruit with a long finish that should keep even the most discerning eonophile happy. It has enough cherry and raspberry flavors to withstand its 15.2% alcohol and enough tannins to allow one to lay it down in the cellar for a few years and see continued improvement over time. It spent 12 months in new American Oak before being bottled just 4 weeks ago. (Description by Dave)

We had a great open house on the 22nd of November- a lot of people came out, and we had so much fun! We are looking forward to being open the next 3 Saturdays, and are especially excited about the wine and food pairing event to benefit the Whitewater Memorial Library on Saturday evening, December 6th. (Call or email for details- tickets are still available).

We will be talking about the adventure of the vineyard and winery at the Medical Society meeting tomorrow, and then at the East Wichita Rotary on Wednesday. Public speaking is not what we are trained in, but somehow our enthusiasm for what we are doing makes it a lot easier. We do get excited talking about all the things we are doing, and especially why we like making wine so much. Although the three themes of the wine business seem to be

  • That was more work than I expected,
  • That took longer than I expected, and
  • That cost more than I expected,

we still have to say that we love what we are doing, and we hope to continue to grow grapes and make wine for a long time.