Posted by Adam Lee
We held our annual Holiday Open House this past Saturday at the winery. Given the dreadful state of the economy, we were all concerned about exactly how successful the event would be. This has always been a very successful event for us, and we thought that, this year, it would truly be a barometer on how bad things are.
The answer? Sales were up 17 percent. The number of visitors was up significantly as well.
Wow! We were thrilled!
Now, to get there, we put a large number of wines on sale. We always put some wines on sale, but this year we put more wines on sale. And the discounts were greater than in previous years. In addition to these sale wines, we opened a larger than normal number of unreleased wines, giving customers a chance to buy them early. And we did our best to create a festive atmosphere, with a Hollywood theme and many of us dressing in costume. (Dianna came as Audrey Hepburn, which worked very well. I came as Austin Powers, which unfortunately worked just as well.)
I also spoke with Peter Cargasacchi on Monday morning. Peter is one of our finest growers. He also makes wine under the Cargasacchi and Point Concepcion labels. He was among more than 15 producers down in the Santa Rita Hills that participated in a two-day Holiday Open House event sponsored by the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance. This was the first year for this event so it is impossible to compare it to previous years. But Peter said that he had more visitors than he anticipated, and he sold twice as much wine as he expected. Again, Wow! But to get there, he selected certain wines and put them on sale. He also offered specially priced gift packs.
I also reached out via e-mail to many of our distributors around the country this past week. I was just checking in to see if there was anything more that we could do to help them with sales for the remainder of the year. I certainly heard some doom and gloom stories, particularly from more “major markets.” But I also heard some more heartening things:
“We are enjoying (?) the same economic concerns as the rest of the country…. That said, we love what we do and are bullish on the long term forecast.”
“We’re hanging in there … still busy, but everyone is certainly trading down dollar-wise.”
“Other than cloning myself, I think I have everything moving forward….”
So what does all of this signify? Perhaps not much. Maybe I’m just trying to keep a few good comments afloat in a sea of bad news. And in difficult times, that might be enough to justify a blog. Good news is, in and of itself, worth something.
But perhaps there’s a little more substance to such observations. Consumer confidence is an important part of the economy. Did you realize that the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index actually improved “moderately” in November from October? Black Friday sales were up significantly, Cyber Monday sales even more so.
I’m not naïve enough to look at the entire world through rose-colored glasses. I know that profits had to be down for all of this to happen. But maybe, in some of the comments by our distributors, and in Peter’s sales this past weekend, and in our successful Open House, I’ve seen that there is a way through these difficult times. No, there’s not a way out. But maybe there’s a way through them, together. And that’s a good thing.
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — December 11, 2008 7:58pm ET
Kenneth A Galloway — Paris, France — December 13, 2008 6:25am ET
R M Kriete — December 13, 2008 1:23pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — December 13, 2008 3:32pm ET
Loren Lingenfelter — Danville, CA — December 15, 2008 1:18am ET
John Ingebritson — Dallas, TX — December 15, 2008 1:23pm ET
Loren Lingenfelter — Danville, CA — December 15, 2008 2:56pm ET
Adam Lee — Santa Rosa, CA — December 15, 2008 6:23pm ET
John Ingebritson — Dallas, TX — December 15, 2008 10:28pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — December 16, 2008 8:04pm ET
Rob Dobson — Regina, Sask. — December 17, 2008 4:43pm ET
Steven Mirassou — Livermore Valley, CA — December 18, 2008 11:29am ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — December 18, 2008 5:34pm ET
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