It gives me great pleasure to announce the grand opening of Swiftwater Cellars this Friday! This is truly Washington's ultimate destination winery -- delicious wines by Tony Rynders and Linda Trotta; fine cuisine and hospitality by Chef Matt Bates, F&B Norm Dillard and Club and Event Manager, Jami Parks; and a solid accounting and business foundation by Controller, Bjorn Gjerde. It's a beautiful location about an hour from Seattle in the Cascades. And there is something for everyone given the Suncadia resort -- golf, trails, spa, fishing and much more. All created within the vision of founders, Don and Lori Watts and their son and GM, Donnie and his wife, Meghan.
I have had the pleasure of working with the ever-growing team for the last 17 months and to get to this point is both professionally and personally thrilling. They broke ground in only August of last year so the fact that such a beautiful facility was finished in such a short period of time is nothing short of amazing.
Here's a detailed look at the work we've done together over the last year and a half:
*created and revised a messaging platform
*written and revised a business plan
* developed labels, packaging and a wide range of marketing materials with Joe Farmer of WhizBang Studio
* sourced software for the winery and restaurant
* written job postings
* sent 6 press releases and 7 newsletters
* pitched 300 writers and counting
* promoted 35 resulting articles, a video and radio interview so far... still counting!
* created a website and planned a new one with Brett Lytle of Lytle Works
* sourced bottle photography from Image works
* developed 3 social media platforms
* created two rock star wine clubs which already have over 150 members
* grown our contacts from 100 to over 1000
* hosted ground breaking and participated in Taste WA and Wine in the Pines
* worked with the Suncadia marketing, PR and event teams
* written and revised a speech
* sourced dummy bottles, branded items, glassware and "This is how we roll" shirts
* had 8 meetings and spent likely 5 full 24 days on the phone
* sent thousands of emails and logged 5000+ driving miles
* enjoyed many delicious meals at Portals in Suncadia, Seattle and the Watts family homes in Cle Elum and Kennewick (can't wait to finally have one at the Hoist House!)
* seen a Tri-City Americans ice hockey game and attended a baby shower
* visited several Prosser area wineries
* shared dinner two IPNC Salmon Bakes
* met many family members, friends and business associates
* congratulated Don on his Puget Sound Hall of Fame award
* and last but certainly not least... welcomed two new babies
Whew! This is just what I've worked on... multiply that by a factor of 100 for the full team's efforts.
In February of 2009, I'd never heard of Cle Elum, Suncadia, or the Watts family. Thanks to an introduction by Tony Rynders, whom I'd met at a conference in June 2008, I became part of an incredible team and business vision. For all this I am truly thankful.
I was happy to return as a judge for the Oregon State Fair's wine competition. As usual, Elaine Lisle and Desa Swaim did an incredible job with the volunteers, organization and excellent treatment of their judges. The pre-judging dinner at Bentley's in Salem is always a treat because it features gold medal winners from the prior year. Sommelier Brian Kemmerle, a fellow judge, and chef Derek Ridgway do an excellent job pairing wine with the cuisine.
Some highlights included tasting the Italian varieties from Cana's Feast by winemaker, Patrick Taylor. And of course Stoller Vineyards' 2006 SV Estate Pinot Noir being awarded "Best Red of Show". (No, I had no idea which of the many Pinot Noirs was my client's because this was a blind tasting :)
It's always interesting to compare your judging notes with the overall medal list. As I wrote after the WA wine competition, there isn't a lot of time to savor these wines, so my notes are my 30 second to one minute impressions. Here I present my personal "Golds":
Phelps Creek 2009 Gewurtztraminer
Mineral, fresh rain, oregano and white peach aromas. Pretty tangerine and lime notes in mouth. Delicious with great acid!
Phelps Creek 2008 Chardonnay
Deep golden delicious and red apple. Nice oak integration with spice and good length. Best white of show/Best wine of show.
Shadow Mountain Vineyards 2009 Pinot Gris
Very inviting notes with pretty lemon-lime and fresh rain aromas. Bright acidity with a crisp mouthfeel with a touch of almond on the finish. More of a Grigio style -- fun and sexy.
Firesteed 2008 Rose of Pinot Noir
Ripe strawberry, sour cherry, floral and herbal aromas. Strawberry really comes through in mouth with nice acid structure -- refreshing.
August Cellars 2006 Pinot Noir
Deep, inviting red cherry, raspberry and baking spices -- multiple layers. Some good stewed fruit notes with a touch of fresh tomato, cherry and a nice minty/herbal character. Long finish.
Stoller Vineyards 2006 SV Pinot Noir
Very inviting, sweet black cherry jam, tea leaves, curing tobacco, earth with a hint of dusty character. Ripe, rich and round with a long finish.
Stoller Vineyards 2007 JV Pinot Noir
Deep, beautiful ripe, brambly raspberry, cherry and espresso aromas. Espresso turns to toffee and mocha in mouth which has rich feel. Love this nose! Nice balance and smooth finish.
Evergreen Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir
Brambly with raspberry, cherry and fresh leather aromas. Deeper black cherry with earthy/forest floor and baking spice in mouth. NICE.
Cana's Feast 2007 Sangiovese
Deep red berry, leather, sweet curing tobacco with white pepper. Nice, dusty mouthfeel with raspberry and great acid. A terrific food wine with a long finish. What more could you want in a domestic Sangiovese?!! Best one I've ever tried.
Cana's Feast 2007 Nebbiolo
Blueberry, cherry, raspberry jam; smoke and moss. Good acid/tannin balance. Nice present finish -- still juicy so more time left to age in bottle.
Ribera Vineyards 2007 Merlot
Very concentrated aromas of stewed plum, fresh leather, clay. Delicious soft and round mouth with big fruit flavors retaining complexity of nose. Silky, velvety and round.
Cana's Feast 2007 Counoise
Peppery fabulousness. Red cherry, blackberry. Ripe with good acid.
Devitt Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Plum, bark, blackberry, clove, olive, mint and a little je ne saisstank. What a nose! Ripe fruit with good balance. Love the mouthfeel. What a delicious glass of wine!
Stone Wolfe Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Blackberry, black cherry, fresh leather, tobacco, eucalyptus. Very focused, fine ripe sweet fruit with peppery note and silky mouthfeel. Good tannic structure and balance. Long finish.
Check out the latest edition of Strategic Guidance from the Ground Up, the Trellis Wine Consulting bi-monthly newsletter. In this issue I discuss how to create a marketing-driven business plan, an online meeting scheduler and present latest client and company news.
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