David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

February, 2009 

Tuesday February 3, 2009

We have uploaded some changes to our order form. We have put the 2006 Tannat on sale for only $18 ($12.60 for Vintage Circle). We are also selling our newly bottled 2008 Fresco Rose for $18. I have made my decision on the blend for the 2008 The Ultimate Cuvee. Even though we won't have it in the barrel and blended until April I want to give everyone a chance to purchase it now. The 2006 and 2007 The Ultimate Cuvee sold out in a few months after offering them. Those of you who have purchased wine in the last few years will receive an e-mail tomorrow. Matt's new wine Quip is already up on our website.

Wednesday February 11, 2009

I have found more things to spend my money on. As I have said I love spending money and that is what our economy needs. I am though going to be cautious and wait to see how our sales go in March, April and May. 50% of our sales come in during those months because we participate in two events (The Russian River Barrel Tasting, first two weekends in March AND the Passport to Dry Creek Valley on the last weekend of April). Of course we will also offer our 2009 Pre-Harvest Futures, probably on March 30. My costs are soaring for Bottles, Labels and Screwcaps, but combined they amount to only about $1.20 a bottle. Two years ago the cost for those three items was about 25 cents lower. Salaries have gone up and we are now offering medical insurance to our employees. That has tacked on another $1 a bottle to my costs. On the other side we have been receiving custom bottling fees from the Wine Guerrilla which has actually offset the rise in bottling materials. On the downside our sales were off about 5% last year, mostly in the last 4 months. Overall our cost per bottle if I include custom crushing income is up about 25 cents. I was planning to raise my "Futures" prices by at least that amount but with the Economy I plan to hold my 2009 Pre-Harvest Futures at the same price we have been charging for the last several years. That would be a price of $15 for most of the wines with $17 for the Aca Modot and Block 4. Of course Vintage Circle members are charged $2 less. By the way almost all our Pre- Harvest Futures are sold to Vintage Circle customers.

As you may remember I think Cash Flow is all that matters. If our costs are up but our custom bottling fees offset them, I can keep my bottle prices at the same amount. As long as I am buying all I want I don't need to make a profit. The problem is that my sales have to keep up with my expenses. What comes in must go out as far as I am concerned, so I am waiting until April to decide on new toys. 

Now on to the new toys. I have a new local customer who has a solar energy company. Of course he wants me to put in more solar. Barack Obama wants me to put in more soar also. Right now we do have solar panels that service our main house which uses the most power. Our winery and guest house does not have solar. I think this is a great idea assuming my sales hold up.

The other toy I am interested in is a new piece of equipment that will do many tests on our wines during harvest and into December before we set up for blending. As some of you may remember I have looked into many products that can calculate the amount of sugar left in our wines during and after fermentation. Not one of those products worked well. We have a local wine lab that can do these tests with results in 24 hours (I would rather have the tests back in minutes) but the cost is $20 a test and could be more this year since every year there has been an increase in the fee of $1. We have 200 barrels, so if I tested all of them, my cost would be $4,000 for just a sugar test. It would be nice to do multiple tests at several times during the fermentation. The sooner I know when the wine has no sugar left, I can top off the barrel and add a little SO2 to keep the wine fresh and preserve the most fruit as possible. There are many other tests that I would like to do and this new instrument called the Astoria Discrete will do all of them in minutes at a low cost. In past years we have only tested the wine in a few barrels and assumed the other similar wines would test the same. We have been successful but I would like to produce even better wine by topping off and adding SO2 as soon as possible. The only problem I have is that the Discrete will cost me over $30,000 and the Solar could cost over $50,000. That is why I will wait until April to be sure my sales hold up. 

Friday February 13, 2009

I tried a bottle of our 2006 Tannat last night compared to our 2006 Sonoma Cab and our 2006 Dry Creek Cab. The only one of those I have been consuming at dinner has been the Dry Creek Cab so I was pleasantly surprised when tasting blind I really liked all three wines. I actually thought the Tannat held up well compared to the Dry Creek Cab while the Sonoma Cab was balanced but did not have the tannin of the other two. When both of those cabs are open at our winery, we sell both of them at the same rate. Now that we have the 2006 Tannat on sale for only $18 ($12.60 for Vintage Circle customers) it is a great bargain.

We have people call us every month and state they have been neglecting to order wine from us for months and have been putting it off because they forget. Of course when they do finally call we make a special effort to make them satisfied with our service. Because of these calls and many other calls relating to a Wine Club I have again been trying to figure out if we should offer wine every so often to people who don't have a great deal of time to order over our website. That may include a shipment of wine that has not been specifically selected by the customer and thus sent out and followed up with an e-mail. I was wondering what some of you thought? If we decide to offer a Wine Club in addition to the Vintage Circle, we will be sending out a card and e-mail soon. 

Friday February 20, 2009

I have been thinking about the Wine Club but I also have been thinking of another way to reward customers. Starting on April First we will be offering an extra 10% for those customers who purchase 4 cases of wine a year from us. As far as the Wine Club is concerned we are going to set up a shipment of two bottles of wine every two months. It will correspond with Matt's wine Quip. At the time of each Quip we will announce the wine that will be delivered for the next time in case our customer prefers not to receive the next shipment. We will offer $5 shipping for any of the Club orders. Also any additional wine ordered at that time will also qualify for shipping at half our cost. Those customers who prefer to pick up the wine at our winery will be charged No sales tax. By the way California sales tax will go up by 1% on April first to 8.75% at our winery. I may have to do some fine tuning but you should hear more details soon on my diary and we will be sending out e-mails and cards in March. 


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