David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 8
February 18, 2001 to February 24, 2001 

Monday February 19,  2001 

I am starting to think about what we are going to do regarding our 2001 offering. The good news is the prices will be about the same. I know most of you have noticed that Zin prices have been creeping up to $25 to $35 a bottle. I know some are lower (many of us in the Dry Creek area) and some are higher in all areas. We are selling our bottled wine to discounters now to keep our prices down. Many people are saying I am hurting my reputation, but I don't care. I feel if I make good wine my reputation will eventually follow. 

Our power has gone off three times today. Thank heaven for propane. That is the only thing that works. Many of you might not know, but without electricity we don't even have water.  That's because we are in the country.  We must have a pump to produce water; and when the electricity goes off we have no water. Dinner was fine though. I just used our gas stove to sauté some Pork and made some rice to go with it all with propane. 

I love the Academy Awards and, as many of you know, most movies. Most of  the great movies made before 1960, I saw by myself. It was great late in the evening in the 1960's to see Academy Award winners on our local channels. This was before greedy people decided that they might be able to make money on these movies in other ways. I have tried to inspire Pat and Kate and Susie in these old movies, but it is rare that they look at one with me and far less often that they enjoy my offering. I really want them to appreciate what I like, in order to share my feeling, but I am starting to realize that they are unlikely to appreciate, in the same way, what I see and hear. 

In the last several days I have started to watch "Dances With Wolves" in DTS. WOW, WOW, WOW. Like some of us I have been underestimating Kevin Costner lately. BUT I am trying to appreciate what he did in 1990. I am convinced now this was one of our great movies. I am only half way through this time, after seeing it for the first time, at least 8 years ago. The movie starts off OK, but then you say it can't keep me interested, but it does. 

Thursday February 22,  2001 

I know that at least 90% of our customers do not watch this website. You who are keeping track do have an advantage of sort when I mention new offerings, but tonight I would like to ask YOU, my most valued customers, to help me decide what I should charge for my new offering of our 2001 Futures. 

Believe me I have agonized, for two months, over what I should charge. Prices have gone up on premium wine so much that it puts pressure on me to raise prices also. Actually we have raised prices every year, but it seems that after our initial yearly offering each year, we have gone up slower over that year. As a matter of fact, we are charging $15.50 now and were charging $16.50 last year at this time. That has meant that per bottle our prices have remained the same over the last several vintages. Sure we have made more wine so that means we have had more income overall even if some of our expenses have gone up. If you look at my estimated costs along side Brendan's article on the $100 bottle of wine, I still make money at over $10 per bottle. 

As most of you reading my diary know I try to be as honest as possible. I have been a little uncomfortable recently about the pricing of my Aca Modot. Also the Block 4 pricing has bothered me to a lesser extent. Sure it costs me more to make these two wines. Block 4 costs more because of the constant sampling that is required of the this area of the vineyard besides other intangibles, and the Aca Modot costs more, now that we are using more oak, but seriously: The Aca modot costs us no more than $2.50 per bottle more and the Block 4 costs no more than $1.00. 

My costs have gone up dramatically over the last three years because of the purchase of equipment and now a new press and building. If I had to factor those costs into this years wine prices, I am sure I would have to raise my prices by atleast $5 per bottle. But actually if I project these costs over the next 20 years you can see I only have to account for 20 cents a bottle. I know some of you are concerned about the condition of our economy, but I can assure you we are doing fine. Actually I am the one concerned that some of you, because of the drop in the stock market, will have less disposable income. I hope the income you do decide to spend on wine will include some of our product. 

What I am asking is of course what should I charge for my new offering? The quandary is if I want to lower my prices on the Aca Modot and Block 4, for about $2 per bottle, I must compensate by raising the prices of the other wines. I need suggestions. 

My suggestion is to offer the Block 4 in April for $15 and the Aca Modot for $16. The prices on the other wines will be around $13 or so. Also we will offer a discount for checks this year at the beginning of April in an initial offering to save money for those of you who do not need to use credit cards. As usual there will be no restrictions or allocations and as I have said before don't worry about hurrying, there are only so many of you who will pay for wine before it is made. 


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Friday February 23,  2001 

I have so many responses to yesterdays diary that I won't be able to e-mail back to all of you. Here are a few general comments to clear up a few things and state some facts: 

Our 2000 wines last year in April. started off at $8.50 for Sauv Blanc and $18 for our Aca Modot. We did not offer the Block 4 until later in the year. All the other wines were offered at $12.50 whether a credit card was used or not. At least 90% of the orders were placed with a card. 

Actually it costs us more to make non-Estate wines, because we have to pay for the grapes. 

I would like to add more Block 4 grapes to my Estate Cuvee, but I like drinking a variety of wines. 

I do not offer a discount on case lots, because I don't want to penalize those who buy less. 

We offer wine on a first come first served basis, because I feel that is the only fair way. I always hold back a few cases of a sold out wine for those who are bold. 

The price of our Sauv Blanc will remain at $8.50 for our initial offer of 2001. 

Another reason to keep our prices down is that a great percentage of you must have their wine shipped. 

The demand for our Aca Modot and Block 4 is great. They sell out quickly. I do not need to lower the prices on those wines to sell faster. I do not believe in raising prices because of demand. 

Many of you are concerned that I am not planning for my retirement and for the costs of college for my two daughters. I am not worried. If I stop expanding, I will stop building and buying equipment. There will be plenty of money to spend even if I raise my prices only to keep up with inflation. I am not retiring!! I will never retire!! I hate vacations and I love what I am doing. 

Some of you think I want to lower my prices on all my wines because they are too high. I am just considering selling all the reds at about the same price with a slight premium for Aca and B4. I must also consider inflation. So the bottom line is that we will go up about 4% overall. Now the ringer is that if I  receive more checks instead of credit cards I can make up some of that 4%. 

We only make 100 cases of Block 4 so I am concerned that wine will sell out too fast so I am considering that I should charge the same as Aca Modot. 

Tomorrow I hope to present my plan for the sale of our 2001 Futures. 

Saturday February 24,  2001

Earlier about 6:00Pm tonight I wrote the message that follows. It was removed for several hours because my lawyer advised me I may be in violation with my credit card agreement. Some times I do not understand lawyers, but their intentions are good. They try to protect us from all unforeseen possibilities. I was told I can not charge a surcharge for credit cards, but can grant a discount for cash sales. Now at this time, I don't necessarily agree that I was proposing a surcharge for credit cards in my diary entry to follow and indeed I thought I was proposing a discount for cash sales. As most lawyers he is trying to protect me, but as I have implied, this proposal is only a starting point. I will review what I have suggested, and what he has advised, and I am sure it may be modified somewhat. BUT IN ORDER TO KEEP MY DIARY UNEDITED I PRESENT AGAIN WHAT I WROTE EARLIER THIS EVENING: 

I am now going to present my new plan for our 2001 Futures offer. I could change my mind somewhat, but I have given this a good deal of thought. 

On April 1, 2001 we will post on our web-site an announcement of our impending sale of our Futures. Those of you with e-mail will receive the same announcement. No offers will be accepted at that time. There will not be an order form posted at that time. On or about April 1 we will have by mail an order form sent to everyone who has bought from us since 1998. The price for Block 4 and Aca Modot will be $16.50 (down $1.50 per bottle). The price on other wines (we don't plan on producing a Pinot or Mourvedre in 2001) will be the same as last year or $12.50 per bottle. Only checks will be accepted with this form. On April 13, 2001 an order form will be posted on our web-site for credit cards only. The prices will be $17 for Block 4 and Aca Modot and $13 for all others. That amounts to an increase of 3% overall to us. No one will be able to process an order over our site without a card #. We will probably have little time to answer all your E-mail requests. We will not accept phone calls for credit card numbers. We will not accept mail orders with credit card numbers. We will accept personal appearances for orders at our winery. Unfortunately I know this will not please all of you. The initial offer will end on May 31 and we will then go back to our old method. I am sorry, but during the initial several weeks each year at this time we have found that we just don't have the time to service all of your many requests. Pat and I would have to hire a full time employee and of course we would have to raise our prices. But worst of all that employee would have to put up with me and I would have to put up with them ([:-)).....



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