May 31, 1999
It's been six days since we've made a posting. Most of the reason for this is that we have been changing our Internet Service Provider (ISP). Since we have two ISPs now (we want to keep the old one for a while to make sure we don't miss any messages, etc.), it has been hard for us to determine which ISP is servicing us from day to day. This will be the first diary entry that we will try to upload to Best.Com, which is our new ISP. Hopefully, everything will proceed as it should.
I finally picked up the rest of our 1998 labels on the 27th. Overall, we are very happy with them. But since our new labeling machine is not up and running yet, I have had to hand apply labels to a few cases of the late and dry Sauvignon Blanc. We've also had to spin the tin on to the bottles with a tabletop single-bottle spinning machine, which is slow and difficult to perfect. Tomorrow or the next day, we should have the new machine operational. It is a luxury that I can't at this time comprehend. I did confirm that the filler and corker is "on the water" - in other words, it's somewhere between Italy and New York. It could arrive in New York as early as this week, then have to clear customs and be shipped to California. The best scenario would be that it could arrive here by the end of June. At this time, my best estimate would be that it will take us five full days to fill and label 3300 cases of the 1998 wine. I haven't thought far enough ahead to decide whether that will be five straight days or a day or two at a time. What's great about having your own equipment is that I will have the luxury to take my time and make sure it is done right this year. My desire would be to start in the first week of July and hopefully that will happen.
As most of you have noticed if you have been on our web site under "Buy," we have dropped our offering of 1999 futures as of this time. Our best estimate is that we have sold as much as 1400 cases of 1999 wine at this time. With this initial offering, we were hoping to sell somewhere between 1000 and 1200 cases and produce about 3500 cases this year. In other words, we were hoping to sell about one-third of what we expected to produce. Since I have mentioned that the crop will yield less than "normal," my estimate now would be that we will be producing between 2900 and 3000 cases. As I've said before, I do have the possibility of purchasing more grapes from neighbors, but at this time I've made a decision not to purchase Cabernet grapes this year. Specficially, it appears that I may be able to produce 820 cases of Zinfandel, 455 cases of Estate Cuvee, and 415 cases of Petite Sirah. I will be dropping the production of the Carignan to 275 cases and the Aca Modot to 265 cases. Since I will be purchasing Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Zinfandel from the best three vineyards I have found, I will be able to produce 540 cases of Neighbors' Cuvee. I am also still anticipating 200 cases of dry Sauvignon Blanc. This totals 2970 cases. Except for the Neighbors' Cuvee and Sauvignon Blanc, the other totals are only estimates and will depend a great deal upon what the harvest will actually bring for Coffaro Estate Vineyard in the fall of 1999. Tomorrow or the next day, I will elaborate on what has already been sold and what might be left for sale after harvest.
June 1, 1999
Yesterday we posted the number of cases we hoped to produce from the 1999 harvest. I thought it might be of interest to also post the number of cases of 1999 wines we have sold through our pre-harvest offering. Bear in mind that at this point, these numbers are only approximate as we haven't actually had the time to enter the orders in the computer and are estimating orders that we haven't yet processed at all.
But it appears that we have sold approximtely 350 cases of 1999 Zinfandel.
Our distributor has been promised 216 and another 50 cases will be distributed
by us to local retailers. That will leave somewhere around 175 cases to
sell after harvest. The others break down as follows:
With our distribution commitments taken into consideration, we have sold over half of our production during the five weeks of the offering. As I've said before, I hate imposing limits and probably still will be standing by that policy when sales are again offered in September.
Since it appears that we will have less than 1200 cases for sale later this year after the wine has been made, Pat and I have a difference of opinion as far as participating in some of the events of the coming year. I actually enjoy being open for events such as Winter Wineland in January, Barrel Tasting the first weekend in March, and Passport the last weekend of April. Pat feels we won't have enough wine to sell to make it worthwhile to participate in these events. Each event requires 10 to15 cases for serving or approximately $2000 worth of wine and also requires a great deal of preparation and of course additional expenses for food and service. My feeling is that these events are like a celebration for both our past and new customers. I really don't want to have to close down as some wineries have and either sell through a mailing list or distributor, only. I really enjoy talking with my customers, old and potentially new ones alike.
June 3, 1999
I was just out in the winery a few minutes ago having my usual two nightly double espressos (yes, I can sleep after two doubles -- less caffeine, in case you hadn't heard), and decided to load up 24 half bottles of Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc on the new labeling machine. In one minute and 45 seconds, I had those 24 bottles tinned and labeled. This is a luxury I still can't comprehend. Even though the machine cost $27,000, at times like this it seems to be worth every cent!
Tomorrow, Steve Ryan, Caterino and 2 to 4 other workers will come out to assist me in planting approximately 2100 new vines. Within two weeks, we should have approximately 160 Cabernet Sauvignon, 200 Mourvedre, 650 specially-grafted Coffaro clone Petite Sirah, 280 Shiraz clone, and 300 Zinfandel that were specially grafted from the Lane Ranch. In the year 2001, we should have our first small crop from these vines. Last year, we planted some Petite Sirah and we should have a small crop from those vines next year. So within four to five years, we should have enough grapes to produce all estate wines again. My plans are still to produce only 3500 cases for our own label, and after we complete the replanting (which should take about 10 years), we will be selling approximately half of our production to local wineries.