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We are all currently in a situation where we must adapt to rapidly changing conditions.  While this was initiated by a biological threat, the human reaction to it has caused changes that cascade through every corner of society.  And like most human reactions and responses, not all of it is logical or fact-based.  However, that does not change the fact that we must adapt and move forward as best we are able.

Our own early response to the loss of our primary wholesale market, restaurants, was to create our Spring Lock-down Nepenthe offering which was a huge success for all involved.  We appreciate the generosity everyone showed and how much of the wine they shared with friends and family. The word of mouth referrals to others stunned us with the much-appreciated support of our small winery; and the screaming deal we offered helped ease the pain of sudden lockdown and life disruption.  With the re-opening (before the current re-closing) of many facets of commerce (not to mention the coincidental depletion of the Nepenthe wines) the screaming deal had served its purpose of easing everyone’s pain a little.  There have been many sad faces over the end of the Nepenthe offer, though.  The good news is that every July we offer something somewhat akin to that:  Zinfandel Futures.

Many of you that are new to us have not experienced our Zinfandel Futures offering, which has been its own quietly screaming deal since our first vintage in 1991.  This is how it works: You get to purchase a case of Zinfandel before it is bottled at a really good price and then it is released the following spring. It was one of the key parts of our being able to kickoff this winery project in the first place providing much needed cash flow to purchase bottles, labels and corks. We have continued doing it every vintage since as a thank-you to our direct customers who have been our most loyal supporters these many years.  If you’ve not experienced our style of Zinfandel and you loved the Nepenthe wines, especially the Pinot Noir, I think you will find our style of Zin in your wheelhouse.  Not jammy, heavy or high-octane like the mode of Zins these past decades, ours is more restrained and has balanced the angles and rounds in a similar manner as our Pinot Noirs.  I usually pour the Zinfandel before the Pinot Noir in a tasting, which says everything about the styling.  Here are user reviews for those new to us.

Another adaptation to changing conditions:  Going topless.  Hang onto your Mardi Gras beads, though.  In March, just when the shutdown was descending, we placed an order for more red custom capsules (the foil tops that cover the corks) to be delivered in July.  We were then informed by the capsule company that that they would now require full prepayment for custom capsule orders due to the uncertainty of the business climate.  Me:  ‘You’re kidding me, right?  30 years of reliable payment and you’re treating us like we just crawled out from under a rock?  Cash-flow is suddenly hard and now you are telling us to finance your operation including your profit 120 days in advance?’  Them:  ‘Yes.  It’s our new policy.  The corporations that supply raw materials to us have asked for prepayment’  Me:  ‘No thanks.’

It made me think.  Capsules are the only dispensable part of the package.  At $0.27 per bottle for a decoration that adds no other value, I’d rather continue putting that into quality corks.  So we’re going topless beginning with some of the 375’s of 2018 OMV Zin and a couple of new releases here (2016 Sasha Syrah and 2017 Kick Grenache).  In the future, we will have our ‘S’ brand logo on the ends of the cork to make our topless bottles easier to find in cellar racks.  I wish I could say that it was purely ecological motivation that pushed me there.  But it wasn’t.  Perhaps, someday we might go back to using capsules.  I wouldn’t bet on it, though.  However, our Chardonnay will sport capsules for many years due to the minimum order for custom capsules being multiple times our production, we have years’ and years’ worth of supply.

You can download the complete newsletter here: Adapting