It is a new year and for me a time to recommit to wine writing.
Last year, I became the tasting room and wine club manager for McFadden Vineyard, was elected to the board of Destination Hopland, selected to serve as the Secretary of DH, and spearheaded some mildly successful marketing initiatives for the area I work.
I also continued to help others with their marketing efforts, social media and old school.
I was concerned that working for one winery while writing about others might be a conflict of interest.
I wrote an intemperate piece, thoughtlessly artless, and found out how small the community I work in is.
I was busy, conflicted, and writing became less fun as I realized the power of my words to inadvertently hurt.
Things change. My term on the board of Destination Hopland is nearing its end; I have just one more Hopland Passport to help make better for 16 wineries before being able to focus on making events much better for just the one winery I manage.
When I took over my tasting room, I had never managed – or worked in – a tasting room. I had a lot to learn. My first event, just weeks after starting, saw a 22% increase over the previous Spring Hopland Passport numbers. By the time Fall Hopland Passport came around, I had a little confidence and we had the best increases any winery reported. While many, if not most, wineries were down in revenue, McFadden Vineyard enjoyed a 150% increase over the year before. December’s sales for wine club, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve saw the best December ever.
Am I satisfied? No. I am happy with what the entire team at McFadden accomplished last year, but I believe we can improve our numbers this year through constant attention to working smart. I have spent the last two days doubling our messaging outreach, after taking almost nine months last year to do the same.
Virginie Boone just reviewed a slew of wines I submitted to Wine Enthusiast magazine. Our whites, ranging from $16 to $18 a bottle, scored 87 to 89 points each. We have an 89 point wine available at just $11.70 to our wine club members this month.
After a period of dormancy, Destination Hopland has begun engaging people with a more constant messaging, increasing communication each direction by a factor in the thousands.
Things are running well in my professional life and I have no projects due for anyone else.
I have the time, and more importantly I have the desire, to write about wine again. I hope I am able to write about the wines and wineries in Mendocino County’s Hopland area without sounding like a shill.
I also have come to terms with the fact I am read, well read even. I started writing and posting to another blog years ago, random rantings, fairly anonymous, and I really enjoyed the ability to say whatever I wanted without filter.
Obviously, I narrowed my blog’s focus and became a wine writer. When I don’t write, search engines deliver hundreds of people to read pasts posts every day. When I do write, my numbers kind of freak me out. I still imagine myself writing for my own enjoyment, I don’t really think about an audience – or certainly its size, and that is the one change I have to make…at least as long as I work in such a small community.
I’ve always been a cheerleader for the wine industry, I would rather not write a story than write a negative one. It is easy to write positive stories, there are so many as yet unwritten.
That’s my goal this year. To write more, to share my thoughts with little filter – just trying to remember to stay positive, and along the way hopefully you’ll find yourself accidentally entertained, or educated, or both.
Note: this post was written in the gym at Ukiah High School where my 6’2” son Charlie is practicing with the rest of his freshmen basketball team before tomorrow’s game against Cardinal Newman. Go Wildcats!