Winter Work

Eddie moving the 2009 Tannat to barrelsIt's the dead of winter here in Sonoma, which usually means overcast with temperatures in the 40's to 50's Fahrenheit -- which it is today (with a tip of the chapeau to my friends in the Northeast, frolicking in another 18" of new snow). We have had a relatively wet season so far; not yet enough to fill the State's reservoirs, but enough that 2010 won't be a "drought year."

It's the slowest time of the year for us. We are moving a few lots at the winery. The crew has started pruning and cover crop management at the Estate vineyard. And I am putting 2009 behind me and planning for 2010. In fact, thinking about 2010 has me awake early this morning, when I really wish I was hibernating like a bear.

Planning 2010: Getting the vineyard in shape. Working hard to get contracts early to sell excess fruit, mostly Syrah -- until the market for these spectacular wines improves, we grow more than we want to bottle. Moving the winery -- just across the parking lot, but there is much to do. Bottling 2007 Rhône wines, 2008 Pinot and 2009 Rosé. SELLING more wine -- much more.

And there's the five-million-dollar question: are we going to be able to sell enough wine this year to stay afloat? A couple weeks ago in his blog Steve Heimhoff asked the questions: Who's Making Money? Who Isn't? Like so many others who are pouring their souls into making high-quality artisanal wines, frankly in 2009 Westwood was among the "isn'ts." In 2010 we need to put more resources into marketing -- money and time -- and the economy needs to improve or all my planning will be for naught and I will need to be doing some planning of a different sort.

And then there is my own personal two-million-dollar question: am I going to have the strength to make 2010 work for us? I have a PET scan coming up in a couple of weeks that is going to go a long way toward answering that one.

OK maybe it's the gloomy weather affecting my outlook. On the brightside, we have some bee-yoo-tee-ful wines coming on the market just now, such as the brooding 2005 Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir and the sprightly 2006 redFOUR. I have wines from three of the best vintages in memory in barrel. Our Estate vineyard continues to surprise and impress as it matures. And I have wonderful family, friends and business partners.

All in all, life is good.

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