Random thoughts on expansion

Good morning everyone. Recently, my wife and I have decided to expand production with a few new vineyard sources. These fruit sources have already been specified as the Volnay 1er Cru and the Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru. We ave also contracted to purchase more fruit from Le Chambertin Grand Cru and Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru. The decision to increase production is a result of quite simply yearning for the opportunity to work with these exceptional terroirs. It really is a privilege to do so.  In the case of the Grand Crus, we have found that these are even more cherished to us, as they simply are on a higher level in the realm of displaying characteristics which are truly unique to the patch of land which the grapes are raised on.

Rest assured in knowing that the decision to grow was not taken lightly, or motivated by finances. I am a firm believer in the idea that thinking with your passion first will offer much more success than if you choose to only be financially-minded. The fruit fruit which passed by was a Beaune 1er Cru ‘Les Greves’ in 2009. A year later, in 2010 and in 2011, I was offered fruit from sources which would have been commercially interested to pursue.

It became quickly apparent that I needed to form some form of an idea about the level of fruit that I would be buying. In just one year, I went from being refused Bourgogne level fruit, to turning down well-situated, old-vine Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru fruit. I passed up a few 1er Crus in Gevrey-Chambertin as well. In 2011, I passed up 4 – 1er Crus before adding the two new sources from Chambolle-Musigny and Volnay.

Any expansion is done with the goal of being at no higher than 45-50 barrels in total by year 7, 2015. Speaking about long term plans, I am trying to stay at 50 barrels at least until year 10, 2019. Looking at this schedule, it is possible to see just how special each new addition needs to be in order to make the cut.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we only buy the grapes from these vineyards. I do not own any vineyards….yet. Though I also do not buy other people’s wines in order to have something interesting. There are many reasons for this, one of which is for my feelings on buying something from someone else and simply pasting a label with your name on it, calling it a wine that they ‘made’. I feel strong enough on this point that I have turned down some beautifully expressive wines, from unique and highly regarded terroirs because it runs opposite from my personal motivations in wine. This is not to complain about what others might do. I simply have my preferences and personal motivations. Buying the wine of someone else wouldn’t fulfill my intellectual curiosity or drive.

With an increase in production, so increases allocations. Clients that supported us since the beginning will naturally get an offer first. Additionally, there will be more mailing list members that will receive an offer. An important thing to keep in mind is that no new professional clients will be added. This means that we will focus on our current private clients, two current Importers (AOC Imports in California, USA and Richards/Walford in London) along with encouraging new private clients from our current mailing list.We feel that this will allow the wines to reach the hands of wine consumers at a lower price, while increasing the lines of communication between us. In short, this type of arrangement encourages more transparency as well as a more of a connected relationship between us both (wine geek consumer and wine geek producer).

For those that are interested in buying our wines, there are currently 2 retailers left with allocations of the wines. These two retailers are the only retailers in the US that had allocations from our US importer. Wine-Searcher.com shows both of these retailers. Two merchants in the UK had allocations, but have now sold out. One of these merchants, AB Vintners, will be releasing allocations before year’s end.

One more thing. On top of all of the other variables needing to be aligned, I also need to be able to have a work load that I am confident in knowing that can easily be managed without sacrifices coming into play. We will be at around 32 barrels this year. Having all 32 below our home in our cave, with my wife and daughter there to help out, things should go over quite well.

Cheers!

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4 thoughts on “Random thoughts on expansion

  1. Thank you, I ordered some bottles of your Charmes-Charbertin GC in California. Its a long way around for delivery in Boston, hope it travels well.

  2. Hey Ray!

    I recently read the NY times article about you and your move to Burgundy. It’s really interesting to hear your story and I look forward to following your blog. From reading prior posts, I assume all the wines have been allocated and there is a long waiting list to get on the allocation list.

    Are your wines available in France and if so, where can one buy them? I recently moved to Switzerland so I don’t think I would have access to the U.S. or U.K. merchants. Plus its easier to drive to France to try your wine if its available.

    Thanks.

    Deepak

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