Monday, January 8, 2018
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
When you're standing in the middle of something, it's hard to understand just how big it is, and when the Napa fires were at the early stage and there was no progress in containment, I got a sense of just how big a story it was when I started taking press calls from around the globe. The reporters all wanted to know about the extent of the damage to the wine industry, having seen the pictures from Santa Rosa of utter destruction. It's not the first time I was in this position.
When the Napa Earthquake hit, I was tasked with trying to gauge the damage to the wine business for the Federal Disaster Declaration, but in that case I had some data to work with. This time, I had a phone, spotty cell coverage, no internet with widespread power outages so couldn't see news coverage, and was only keeping current with colleagues, family, and clients using texts and cell phone.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Was That Just Last Week?
Without full containment yet, many are already looking forward to begin the recovery, even with still blurry and red eyes.
There are so many stressful points from the past week from which I have a lot of new stories to tell, and lots of pictures that I’ve shared on social media. It was a week that seemed more like a month, reinforced by a blur of numbingly shocking scenes.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Unlike most of the business world, there's a sense in the wine business that your neighbor is part of your support mechanism. They are not a rival nor are they a competitor. Everyone freely offers support in the form of information and time. If you need a tractor because yours is mired in a soggy field, no problemo! Need a little welding and custom fabrication on a pump? I'll be right over with a welding rig. Stuck fermentation? I'll send over a portable heating unit.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
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The Regulatory Landscape
Falling on the heels of a growing anti-tourism movement, of late I've taken calls from officials in three particular cities that are now considering tightening regulations, or altogether banning the growth of downtown wine tasting rooms.
What else can officials do to make the wine business more difficult? That's what many are asking. Why are municipalities working so hard to hinder success of an industry that helps pull in millions in local occupancy taxes, and donates many more millions to charity? Answer: It's just politics.
The wine industry isn't sufficiently engaging in the debate so we have ourselves to blame in part. We have a fight on our hands but don't show up in force to planning commission meetings and support applications.
We make it harder on officials who only hear from their constituent nay-saying minority. To the credit of the officials, one thing they are doing is asking around for data and facts that might help balance the debate, but I'm wondering if opening a downtown or urban tasting room is even a good business decision in the first place?
Saturday, September 2, 2017
The Big Short
It's easy to tell people what they want to hear. It's harder to tell them what they don't want to hear.
In 2007 I saw the above chart that tracked US home prices versus median family income. With other indicators in the market, I was convinced there was a real estate bubble already in the process of bursting and I started talking about it in speeches. The result of my prescience? I stopped getting speaking invitations and in one speech had the organizer ask if I could be a little more cheery.
People don't want to consider the downside risk in business when things are going well.
If I told you today what you wanted to hear, I would say that wine consumption is growing in both volume and dollars and consumers are continuing to trade up above $9.00. I would tell you that grape prices are at an all-time high and trending higher right along with land prices.
That's true and might get me more important speaking engagements, but I'd rather you know about an underlying trend I'm seeing that's more than a little concerning. If I'm right, it's going to change the way you are thinking about business right now.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
After you get though the early part of the podcast which sounds a little like a This is Your Life show on your's truly, at about the 15:00 mark we start to get into some of the concepts discussed in the report. The questions I cover are: