We just started our wine club! This was really exciting for us but also kind of scary for some reason. Since the day Cailin and I bought the winery I have been saying we would start a wine club. But what should a wine club be? Many times when researching a wine club I found clubs that were more about benefiting the winery than the members of the club. This seemed some what backwards to me. I thought a club should benefit the members just as much as it does the winery. I didn't want to start a club that forced wine to people who may or may not want it.
The first issue is wine is subjective and we make wine for every palate. How do you make everyone happy and let them recieve only the wine they want. The last thing we wanted was to send wine to people that would sit in their wine rack for years never being enjoyed. We make a many different types of wine. While this is great for folks in our tasting room it becomes a challenge in a club. Do we ship dry wine, sweet wine, fruit wine, red wine, white wine or any kind of combination. Regardless it seemed impossible to have a enough clubs that everyone could find a club they would enjoy.
Also one has to think about price and quantities shipped. How many bottles do people want? How many is too many? Also I hated the idea of shipping costs. It seems this is always somewhat hidden. Wine is heavy so it cost alot to ship. I always hated the term plus shipping and handling because it always left a question as to what the actual cost to ship the wine would be. When it comes down to it the number of decesions left me slightly petrified. Even with regular prodding from people coming in the tasting room asking about our club. Finally I setled on a formula that has served me well when tackling other difficult task KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). So we have finally lauched. Our club is simple. No tiers, no hidden costs and better yet the member gets to pick the wine they actually want. All we ask is as a member you commit to buying 1 case of wine total. We do 4 shipments of at least 3 bottles. This gets you 15% of off all the time as well as $10 flat rate shipping anywhere we ship. The best news is we allow the members to pick the wines they want each shipment. This makes sure members get exactly the wines they want. We have big plans. We want to make wine club only wines, do pick up parties, and other specail events. This is for the future but for now we want to make the Wine club experience as simple and rewarding as possible for both us and our members. We hope you enjoy our begining and will lend us your feedback so we can continue to make the club better and better.
Carlson Vineyards is the 3rd oldest winery in the state of Colorado. The grapes were planted in 1981 and the winery began operations in 1988. At this point grapes were few and far between. I have had conversations with growers in the area of people weighing garbage bags full of grapes rather than the 1000 pound picking bins we use now. Because of this shortage Carlson Vineyards started production with 3 wines. Riesling, Peach, and Cherry. Riesling was easy because it was one of the grapes grown on the property. Peach and Cherry became main stays because of their availablity and the high quality wine they produced.
Since day one Carlson Vineyards has always made all the fruit wine from 100% fruit. This means there are no grapes in any of our furit wine. When you buy a bottle of peach wine you can expect it to be 100% Palisade Peaches in the bottle. No concentrate, no flavoring, just a good representative of local fruit. We pride ourselves in supporting local farmers and only producing wines from fruit available here in CO. This year we used 51,000 pounds of peaches, 21,000 pounds of cherries, and 16,000 pounds of plums all grown right here in CO. Making the wine this way has its own set of challenges but we feel the work involved is worth it due to the qualtity of wine we produce. As a winemaker one of my favorite things to see in the tasting room is someone trying our fruit wine for the first time and seeing there reaction. It is amazing how many people who start the tasting saying "I hate fruit wine" end up leaving our tasting room with peach or cherry or both.
Fruit wines are not only fun to make but are also fun and versatile to drink. All of our fruit wines stand up to food on their own but also make killer cocktails when blended with the right ingredients.
Manning the pitter for Plum wine:
What is winemaking? I see it as a bit of a lot of things balled up into one occupation. To me winemaking is primarily 3 things and I love all three. At its core it is Agriculture. You can't make great wine without great grapes. Can you make wine from sub par grapes? Sure, but it won't be great wine. The level the grapes are when they enter the winery is the time when that wine has the highest potential. Every year the quality and quantity change depending on the weather and how the grapes where managed. Every year we watch the weather. Will it be a cold winter, an early frost, will we get enough rain. Every year as a winemaker with deal with these elements. Wine at its best is farm to table.
Wine is art and science. To some these terms are almost opposites. To me they are intertwined in winemaking. I love the fact that as a winemaker I have the opportunity to create something. I get to put in the work then wait for the rewards at the end. I don't like to say non-intervention winemaking. Do I want the grapes to be the star? Absolutly! But even in the purest form I decide on when to pick, what to blend, how much oak and what kind of oak, when to bottle and a myriad of other decisions that need to be made along the way to get those grapes to the final stage. I like to see our cellar as our studio.
Last but not least wine is about people. Wine in my mind is meant to be enjoyed with people. It is an experience we get to share. I must make wine people will enjoy and wines I enjoy to make. In the tasting room I want to produce an atmosphere that leaves people wanting to come back. Without people wine becomes just another beverage. When you go out to dinner no one will ask if you had water or soda but they will be interested in what wine paired best with your pasta.
Growing up I caused a lot of frustration for my parents. I was always going 100 mph in all directions. Winemaking is perfect fit for me becasue it allows me to dive head first into all three of these things. I hope this becomes evident anytime you taste our wines. Cheers!
Cailin and I are living a dream. We are raising our daughters on the Western Slope of Colorado. We have a had a busy couple of years with lots of excitment, lots of work, and a little stress. Our first daughter Josephine was born in May of 2014, we purchased the winery October of 2015 and had our second daughter Madeline in March of 2016. We are lucky to have the daily support of Steve and Julie (Cailin's parents) and Parker and Mary (the founders of Carlson Vineayards). I hope to use this blog to share our excitment, answer questions, and allow people to come along as we work hard to continue the Carlson Vineyard legacy as well as create new exciting wines. So from our family to yours Cheers!