January 2013. While watching the 800th college Bowl game and NFL football play-offs for the last two weekends, we have simultaneously been cleaning out the “wine info” shelves in the basement - throwing out years of labels, release notes, pre-printed envelopes and promotional material into the re-cycle bin. We had methodically saved all the extra labels from each vintage, both the expensive, lovingly hand-made labels created from hand-made paper on a letter press for the HL bottles, as well as the rolls of the commercial, pressure-sensitive front and back labels for the E II (prior to the 2007 vintages of both Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon) and recent Two Old Dogs labels. You never know when a bottle would break and leak, or in California an earthquake may occur, and entire pallets of stained bottles would need to be re-labeled! But while taking end of year/first of year inventory in our tiny Home/Library cellar of older vintages, we had to laugh at the idea that we would ever need more than a few dozen labels of each vintage, as that’s all the wine we ever have left! 4 bottles of the 2001 E II Cabernet Sauvignon (our first release of another wine besides the HL from our vineyard), 6 bottles of the 2001, etc.; 11 bottles of the 2005 E II Sauvignon Blanc (our first white wine release), 8 bottles of the 2006, etc.; 12 bottles of the 1997 HL Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (our first release and only 50 cases produced!), 14 of the next vintage, 18 of the next! Not enough to even collect dust!
Jennifer once worked, in the late 1970’s, for a tiny local winery whose owner was ecstatic when the last bottle of each vintage was finally sold, thrilled to be rid of the wine and have it sold out! My how times have changed. We have since learned, after our production finally grew to over 200 cases, to save 20 to 30 cases of each vintage (if we can catch it in time), so that we could have enough to re-release and create three or six bottle mini-verticals, years later, to offer to our best clients. It’s also fun to gather with other winemakers, as we did last summer, and taste through the last 8-10 vintages to see the effects of climate changes and the small tweaks made in winemaking which, with the underlying similarities from the same vineyard grape source, make each vintage truly unique.
So now we are happy to collect more wine and less labels, and, instead of paper memories collected in a box on the shelf, remember the vintage in a glass. Here’s to a New Year with less clutter and more wine!