Wednesday, December 12, 2007
It’s been a traumatic 18 days. I LOST my cell phone sometime Tuesday afternoon, November 20. I’m convinced my car ate it cause I can prove I made five calls on my way home from the winery. No stops except for my garage.
I don’t even start my car without pulling the cell phone out of my purse, sitting it in my cup holder with a list of calls I need to make next to it. I’m addicted to business on the road; otherwise I would be wasting valuable time. (I know, pretty pathetic.)
Well Ralph and I were off to Seattle on Wednesday and then Thanksgiving. So I wasn’t too desperate and I had the use of Ralph’s phone, so withdrawal tremors hadn’t yet started to set in.
Friday, it was off to my Verizon store, store too busy – left, then Saturday, a very grumpy customer – left. Monday planned my visit 45 minutes before closing, already dark outside. Yikes, another customer who just got a fancy PDA and was having problems.
By now I am in full fledge withdrawal… I Need A Phone And I Want It Now! So I stuck it out and finally I got my turn with a very technically savvy young gentleman with peach fuzz on his face. Given some of my “basic” questions and his body language I knew he had a long day with us techno Neanderthals.
I decided on the Big Kahuna… I was stepping up to a Palm Treo, gone would be my trusty Day-Timer that has gone around the world with me. I was not going to let the 3-inch instruction manual (my last phone had a 10 page flyer) sway me. Nor, the salesman’s comment that there was all this free software I could download to customize my phone to my “lifestyle”. Lord a mercy, it took me three hours to figure out how to download songs for my ringback tone and put them in a juke box!!! And, I thought I had cracked the DNA code.
So, I’m up at the counter, credit card in hand. My account was pulled up to make sure I “qualified” for the upgrade (after I gave account ID, password, last 4 digits of my social and my first born child). What happened next is material for a sit-com… the conversation goes something like this.
My salesman says, “Ma’am I’m sorry but you can’t buy this phone today.”
“Because you are not the primary name on the account and your husband must come with you to the store, in person, for you to buy this phone.”
“You’ve got to be kidding!!”
“You’re telling me that I can’t buy this phone without my husband!!!”
Lightly slamming my hand down on the counter I proceed to rant… I am 57 years old and I don’t need a man or my husband to buy this phone. Just ring it up now!!!!
I can’t do that Ma’am. (If he had said Ma’am one more time, I think it would have been a full-fledged embarrassing scene. I know he was doing his job, but jeez.)
Then of course I had to get in the last word, “FINE!!!!!” and stormed out of the store.
I get home, rant all the way upstairs to put on my special t-shirt that says, “I Am So Tired Of Being The Bitch” (more on this later). Poured myself a glass of Benoit’s 2004 Cabernet (That’s the Big, Bold and Bodacious wine). Stomped back downstairs and placed a call to Verizon Wireless.
After the usual long list of menu options and wait time I finally get a live person. Obviously on a roll here, wanting satisfaction, I didn’t give the young customer service agent any time. I told her to just put a supervisor on the line. To make this long story short… Verizon took care of this situation in less than 10 minutes and now I have equal authority on our cell phone account… Whoopee.
The young customer service agent stays with me throughout the interchange and schedules a call with me for tomorrow to help me pick out a phone. I tell her to call me at the winery at 1 p.m. and gave her the number. I waited and waited for her call thinking, yea just another dropped ball in this fiasco. But, one last absurdity… I sort of need to eat my words, because the customer service agent did call and at the agreed upon time, but she called my LOST CELL PHONE! (I can still check for messages.)
So now, it’s the 18th day. I’ve gone on-line multiple times about the Palm Treo and the Blackberry. The information is overwhelming and I can’t make a decision. I keep putting it off.
Today, I realized driving to the winery; I was listening to the radio; nothing much on my mind and it was the first time I had NOT automatically reached into my purse to look for my phone.
Am I cured, probably not. I do need to buy that phone but it just doesn’t seem quite as important anymore. I’m having a La Dolce Vida Moment and another glass of Cabernet!
Eighteen Days and counting.
Ps. THE “B” t-shirt was a gift from Molly and Libby. Yes, there is another story and I’ll write that one soon because it is really special, way different then you’re probably thinking. We’ve thought about lending my t-shirt out, sort of like the Traveling Pants.
Pss. Why Haven’t I Really Bought A Phone?
A few weeks ago I witnessed an accident. I was first on the scene. The car in front of me pulled out from a stop sign and hit a motorcycle. It was horrible and the driver is still in a coma. It was one of those freak accidents that could happen to anyone. BUT, I was on my cell phone pulling up to the stop sign behind the car that caused the accident. I was driving by instinct.
What If… What if I was that car, not watching as close as I should have because I was talking on my phone. As I write this, I need to be really honest with myself; I have not bought another cell phone because I need to know that I have kicked my addiction for doing business on the road while driving.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Friday, November 23, 1:50 p.m.
For those of you that are new to our mailing list, the winery was closed last year for 6 days at the end of November because of heavy snow. In order to “shovel up” some much needed business I sent out a White Wednesday case offer with us paying for your shipping.
After much discussion, Molly, Libby and I had nixed White Wednesday this year. While the forecast is kinda yucky there’s nothing ‘white’ on tap so it will be business as usual. And since we’re so appreciative of your support this past year it just didn’t feel right to add another promotional email to your inbox.
But, I’ve changed my mind. (…that doesn’t sound real good but just read on and you’ll understand).
My husband Ralph and I had to go to Seattle Wednesday. But rather than fighting the horrific holiday traffic leaving the city, we decided to make it special and planned a “date night.”
It was special. Add Thanksgiving morning with breakfast in bed and the paper and I was in heaven.
But when Ralph dropped the paper on the bed, it was a good thing I wasn’t holding my coffee. The weight of it hitting the bed actually bounced me in the air!
According to the news, this was the thickest Thanksgiving Seattle Times ever… easily 5 inches of store advertisements. I was blown away.
Then during our drive home to Sequim and family, I made an innocent comment, something like “We should be home in record time ‘cause no one will be on the road.” Was I ever wrong! Interstate 5 was a parking lot.
I kept wondering if folks were going to have tailgate parties and camp out in the parking lots of their favorite stores so they could be in line for the 4AM sales!
What’s this got to do with White Wednesday?
Well, this year we may not be stuck in snow but maybe you are. Or worse, snarled in traffic like we were.
So as I noted above, I’ve changed my mind. Let the Working Girls Elves help you out this year.
It’s called “White Wednesday Somewhere” and you can celebrate by once again selecting a case of wine, taking your 10% case discount AND letting Olympic Cellars pick up the shipping!
It is our gift to you for all your continued support. Mix or match any of your favorite wines including our holiday Cranberry Jubilee. (The only exception is Working Girl White , which is limited to the next bottling)
Since the weather will only get colder we need to get your shipment moving now. So “White Wednesday Somewhere” ends on Friday, November 30. Order on-line, respond to this mail or call the ELF-LINE at 360-452-0160 to place your order.
And if you’re within driving distance of the winery, you can celebrate “White Wednesday Somewhere” at the winery Wednesday, November 28, with a one-day-only, 25% case discount special when you take your wines with you (that’s your average overall savings if we had to ship it to you).
Molly, Libby, Benoit and Kathy
Ps. I almost forgot. We’ve been saving 14 cases of our double gold 2003 Dungeness Red Lemberger. If you would like a case or a few bottles in your mixed case, be sure to note that in the comments section of the order form.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
The Harvest Celebration
Any anthropologist, or any farmer, for that matter, knows that harvest celebrations date back to the beginning of time.
One harvest tradition linked to the vineyard is the Gerbebaude , the final dinner for the pickers. Gerbe originally meant a sheaf of wheat. In the vineyards, it is a bouquet the harvesters present to the owner or his wife at the dinner.
The Grape Harvest at Olympic Cellars and on the North Olympic Peninsula is still in our future but the tradition of celebrating the harvest begins this year in 2007, the year Benoit planted our vineyard.
Those of you that have visited the winery have enjoyed our Gathering Room and the huge harvest table built from the wood of our century old barn.
The Harvest Table
A Harvest Table is usually a Big Long Table… gathering all those that have helped during the harvest. Nobody knew one another on the first day of crush or harvest… working side by side, yet at the end, friendships have been born. In the fields or at the winery, work doesn’t stop once harvest is over and the grapes are crushed.
Wine is life with seasons of its own! Harvest/Crush is Fall, Barrel Aging is Winter, Bottling is Spring and the release and enjoyment of the wine – Summer! Each season will be celebrated at the winery, traditions growing and stories being told around the TABLE. Cheers, Kathy
We will celebrate the harvest in three ways…. Please Join Us.
Sharing our wine and food from the Peninsula during the Passport Wine Tour Olympic Peninsula Harvest Wine Tour
Dinner La Gerbebaude , end of the harvest dinner at Joy's Wine Bistro with Olympic Cellars Winemaker, Benoit Murat. All will gather at two large tables. Harvest Winemaker Dinner
The first harvest dinner in our Gathering Room for all who helped in the 2007 Harvest and Crush – our own La Gerbebaude!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Driving home from the winery the other day I found myself listening to a very familiar song… Yesterday, by the Beatles. We’ve all heard this tune a 1,000 times before but a phrase kept ringing in my ears… I Long For Yesterday.
That afternoon I had talked with a colleague in Seattle who owns a very successful wine brand (and also helps market our Working Girl Wines). She was on a real rant, upset that another opportunity to get market exposure had been canceled. She kept saying, “It’s harder and harder any more to be the small guy.” In this case, our distributor had cancelled a holiday trade show, the one event where we’re on equal footing with the “big boys” in the wine business.
Still thinking about our conversation, when I got home I looked up the lyrics to the song. That’s when another phrase caught my attention… I Believe In Yesterday.
How many times have we thought life was “better” or “simpler” when we were young? We all long to recapture that time when life seemed less demanding, slower, and not so chaotic.
Like me, maybe you moved from urban sprawl to this gorgeous Olympic Peninsula, captured by a rural landscape, unmatched scenery, fresh food, temperate climate and open land to build a home without postage size yards.
Or perhaps you grew up here, even part of multi-generations. For you the loss of farmland, rising home prices and the influx of box chain stores may have saddened you, and possibly changed your way of life.
We all know that change and growth is inevitable. We can’t live in the past. Even tucked away here, we’re all part of a global economy... whether we like it or not. It’s a question of the right balance between yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Somehow we must find that proverbial “common thread” that ties us all together, that special something which caused us to stay or gravitate here in the first place.
Me? Oh, I’m guilty too. After moving here six years ago I often find myself feeling, “Now that I live here, don’t let it change!”
But I straddle a line. See, I own a small business. And for it to not only survive, but also thrive, there needs to be a robust Peninsula economy with tourists flocking to our shores.
And I need an equal chance to serve you as a customer.
That’s why lots of questions keep running through my head. Can small business really be successful next to a chain store? Can a small community keep its unique persona without its family-run businesses, boutiques, galleries and restaurants? Can we keep our quality of life and still grow? Can we be small yet think big? Do we even have enough small businesses left to attract tourists... Longing for Yesterday?
I think we all believe in Yesterday.
We want small town life but big city conveniences. And please don’t put me in a box, addicted to consumption, with invasive marketing, that invents wants I don’t need (Whew! I needed to get that off my chest).
Here’s the thing: the reality and success of chain stores is ‘homogeny’ and ‘economies of scale.’ Corporations buy in large scale for huge stores. The stores are told where and how to display the same products. Robotic Merchandising has us buying the same products, wearing the same clothes, eating the same food. There’s no individualism or decision making required!
But... the price is often right. And that’s where our struggles usually begin... and where, I think, they need to end.
See, if we want our community to remain local… then I think there is a shared responsibility to be local.
As small business owners we have a responsibility to you, our customer. Sure, it’s harder to be the small guy but we can’t use that as a crutch. We know we have to earn your loyalty. We have to provide a quality product, convenience and customer service… no different than chain stores.
But when you enter a small, local business it’s different. It should be different. Call it ‘personal,’ if you will, as individual as each of us who own our businesses. We live the American Dream (but I’ll tell you... it’s way harder then any corporate job I’ve ever held!). When we have a “good day” there’s no higher high! When we’re asked to contribute to the many worthy causes, it’s hard for us to say no... because it IS personal. It’s our community.
Still, it’s a fact. We can rarely compete on price. But what we can do is provide a local experience that’s personal, heartfelt and appreciated. It’s the “local spirit” you carry home with you in your bag. It’s what gives you reason to smile and know you ARE an individual and important to us.
Now, here’s how I see it: if you don’t find that experience at a local business, then you have every right and obligation to buy from the big guys next door. We can’t expect handouts just because we’re small and local.
But when you do find it, then, even if it costs a bit more, I think you must consider BUYING LOCAL.
BUY LOCAL is a decision to support a local economy, to support this spectacular place you chose to live.
If all of us, both individuals and businesses, don’t choose to spend a portion of our hard earned dollars BUYING LOCAL when our trust has been earned then Yesterday will fade like the setting sun into an all-too-familiar distant memory.
Olympic Cellars Winery
Friday, September 21, 2007
There’s been a lot of interest in winery cats lately, so let me tell you the story of ours...
Moakie, our Winery Cat
Our small, black cat is as much a part of the heritage of Olympic Cellars as the historic barns which have become our winery homes. When the winery first began it was housed in a dairy barn in Sequim. Our current home is also a huge, historic former dairy barn built in 1890 between Sequim and Port Angeles.
Moakie was born sometime in the early 90’s. Her Mom was the FIRST Olympic Cellars Winery Cat and reigned over the Winery barn in Sequim.
As the story goes, Moakie’s mom went out prowling one night and never came home, forcing Moakie to take over her duties at a tender, young age.
A winery’s cat job description is extensive, and includes but certainly isn’t limited to the following (after all, we all know cats do whatever they please regardless of the rules):
- Keep the mice out of the barn and oversee the cellar day and night.
- Meow in that irritatingly loud cat-voice the moment our car pulls up at the winery reminding us we only have minutes to get the winery open for business (no, we’re not late, just dang close)
- Greet guests by softly drawing their attention for a head-pat by rubbing around their legs (I’ve told Moakie many times, no tripping)
- Sun herself on the patio encouraging guests to stop and enjoy the sunshine, spectacular scenery... and maybe a glass of wine.
- Pose at all the picturesque places in the winery for guest photos (what a ‘ham’)
- Check out every barrel, regardless how high it is, to make sure the bungs (those are the things that plug the hole in the barrel) are secure (Well, maybe not really so much check the bungs as to leave “hair balls” especially in the spring just so we get into all the high spaces for our spring cleaning)
- Improve our “hide and seek” skills by hiding in every impossible-to-find spot in the tasting room right before closing so you can’t set the alarm ‘til the cat is found.
- And, of course, score double job points when delivering her “ultimate present” on the floor right behind our guests at the bar. “What present?” you ask. All of us who work at the winery know the sound of that meow, and more importantly the crowd gasps of “Ugh” and “Yuk”! We’ve practiced our sprint from behind the bar, pulling off a wad of paper towels without breaking stride, diving to cover up the “headless” mouse while praising Moakie in a crowd-calming tone, softly telling all… “This is really a good thing”! After all, see rule #1.
I met Moakie in 2001 after purchasing the winery. She definitely was a barn cat, aloof and arrogant. She had a “don’t mess with me attitude” and only submitted herself for petting when she wanted something… to get out, to get in, more food, whatever.
Her meow could stop a boisterous and happy wine tasting crowd dead in their tracks, all heads turning because Moakie was speaking.
I’ve never been a “cat person.” I grew up with dogs so there was much to learn.
Like the changing seasons, Moakie’s habits change.
Summer sun brings out the frisky side while cold weather brings her more loving side. Cuddled up on the couch, she dares me to put her out in the cold of night. Of course, we cave... usually finding a warm spot in the cellar just for her.
Winery life happily went along until Benoit, our VERY French Winemaker, joined the team in 2004.
Who Owns The Cellar…The Winemaker or The Cat?
Benoit is pretty dang particular.
And like a lion guarding his pride, the Cellar is his domain... or so he thought.
Benoit didn’t like having a cat perched on whatever barrel suited her fancy, taking a nap on top of his wine tanks, or yes, leaving those unwanted “hair balls.”
It didn’t take long before we noticed an abrupt change in Moakie’s demeanor. Most obvious, she would leave the room when Benoit entered.
Then the proverbial “cat poop” hit the fan.
Trailing the sound of very loud French cursing, Benoit enters the tasting room…. “Kathyeee,” he says, “Moakie has got to go. She “sheeeit” in zee middle of my cellar. I will not have thiessss.” (You have to practice your French accent here!)
Now, I may have grown up with dogs but I’ve come to know that cats are very smart and understand exactly what they’re doing.
Molly, Libby and I were all in the winery that day and almost simultaneously we ask, “Benoit, what did you do to Moakie?”
“Nothing”, he says, still bristling with anger.
Sensing we haven’t heard everything, we press on, “Are you sure?”
“Well”, he says, “I just make a face, hiss and hold my hands up like a mad cat every time I see Moakie,” demonstrating this action. Voila! (We are learning a few words of French.)
We explain to Benoit that Moakie has “left him a present” on purpose, just to get back at him.
Although he didn’t believe us then, we know he tested our theory because miraculously, Moakie went back to her cat box!
The cellar is now quiet... AND CLEAN.
There’s an unspoken truce between Benoit and Moakie. She does seem to spend more time in the cellar when Benoit is playing French music… so maybe they’re getting along. Or maybe she’s just trying to understand the French culture.
Yesterday I hung the pictures you see of Benoit and Moakie in the cellar to remind them...
The Cellar IS Big Enough For Two!
Friday, September 7, 2007
Immediately following our Grape Stomp & Harvest Party, LeRoy Bell will perform at 4:oopm. LeRoy is definately the biggest musical talent we've had at the winery and we were lucky to get him. Don't miss this concert.
The Triple Door, Seattle’s most prestigious showcase venue, and the crowd play a big part in taking LeRoy's songs to new levels as the band jams and crowd rocks.
It’s easy to see why LeRoy Bell is touring with music legends like B.B. King, Etta James, India.Arie, Al Green, Los Lobos, Erykah Badu, LeAnn Rimes, Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, Leon Russell and even The Beach Boys
Sept 15, 4 p.m. Rain or Shine (We'll keep you dry)
Not to be missed, first time on the Peninsula More Details
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
I Felt The
THRILL of Victory
And Then ...
The AGONY of
7:30 a.m. Tuesday, September 6
My coffee is steaming on my desk and I find myself daydreaming. Seven years ago I was on a flight from Tokyo to Dallas watching one of Lucille Ball’s classic episodes… The Grape Stomp. (More accurately it was the 150th episode, Lucy’s Italian Movie that aired on aired April 16, 1956). I remember thinking; I should do this at the winery some day. Now I’m planning our 5th Annual Grape Stomping on September 15.
Who would have thunk that a 25-year corporate veteran would retire, move to about the farthest Northwest corner of the country and try her hands at rebuilding one of the oldest wineries in the state of Washington? Believe me, semi-conductors to grapes is not the most natural career path.
Wine does have the ability to “sucker and seduce” you into doing things totally out of your comfort zone… so when researching how to do a grape stomp and buying prizes, I got myself some rather “sexy but warm” Lucille Ball grape stomping flannel pajamas. I’ve got them on right now… got to be in the right mood to plan out the gazillion details that go into this event.
Oh, we learned so much the first year…. I ordered 2 tons of grapes. That’s a lot! We built the huge grape stomp tank (barrel staves encircling a 6 foot aluminum tank) to look just like the one in the Lucy Show. I pitchforked about 500 pounds into the tub, then tried it out and fell flat on my butt. The tank was slick as “snot” loaded with grapes. So, then out came the grapes (now it’s a total of 1000 pounds shoveled) and in went a piece of old carpet, Voila!! Again, I shoveled the grapes back in…. now 1500 pounds… I’m more than sweaty and not so perky any more in my “most classic harvest costume” and a red wig that now looks more like road kill.
After 6 years, this is still my favorite of all the winery events (even the skydiving!). You can get a real sense of the “grape” even if it is squishing up through your toes cold, sticky and wet. And yes, your stomp partner might have a bit of those grapes adorning their head since you’re really stomping to win your “competition heat” so you advance to the finals, “The Grand Stomp Off”. The Thrill of Victory or The Agony of de-FEET…. It’s still one of those life’s experiences that will not be forgotten.
Imagine yourself now, the competition is over. You have a celebratory wine glass in hand. The band is doing a sound check and you’re just about to listen to Leroy Bell. This is going to be a magical performance. He’s written for Elton John and opened for artists as diffuse as B.B. King, Al Green, Taj Mahal and Lee Ann Rimes. And, you have A FRONT ROW seat on the winery patio. It doesn’t get any better than this.
On a more serious note, Olympic Cellars is donating ticket proceeds from the Grape Stomp and Concert to the Clallam County Youth Suicide Prevention Program. This program is hard for people to talk about and harder to fund. We want to pack the winery grounds!
Grape Stomping Harvest Party and Concert
Saturday, September 15 1-6:30 p.m.
Owner/Manager, Olympic Cellars Winery
Home of Working Girl Wines
Created By Women, In Support of Women
Monday, September 3, 2007
As I passed a display of bottled water I noticed a brand I hadn’t seen before and picked up a bottle. I could just read the words “Send a Message in a Bottle.”
Well, that captured my attention… you know, the marketing person inside me. So I put it in our basket.
On the way home I drank the water and tossed the empty bottle in my basket to take to the winery to show Molly and Libby (we each lug around these great African baskets that we use to haul all our stuff that goes to and from home, winery and events).
So, this story continues a few days later when I get to the winery for a Working Girl meeting.
I pull out this water bottle, again not really looking at it closely, and hand it to Molly while blabbering on about, “Wouldn’t it be cool to do a promotional mailing to our customers in a ‘plastic wine bottle’.”
I can barely get the words out because Molly is laughing so hard she’s tearing up as she hands the bottle to Libby. “Kathy”, Molly says… “Don’t you know what this is?”
Again, I touch the bottle and say something like, “Well, it has a plant on the front and it say’s ‘Legalize It’.”
Still NOT GETTING IT… Libby rolls her eyes and informs me the plant in the picture is marijuana, and the label asks folks to send a message “in the bottle” addressed to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Count asking for marijuana to be legalized!
Well, jeez… details.
You know, if it was something techie I didn’t get I could understand but for goodness sakes, I even grew up in the 60’s and 70’s.
I guess I DO get going a bit too fast sometimes (well, maybe a lot of the time, according to the others).
I know the course we’re headed, the goals… but sometimes I’m just not the one to fill in all the details (that’s probably why I got such poor scores in school for not coloring within the lines!).
Like when I was proofing an ad for one of our last winery events. I knew something wasn’t right but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Until it hit me. I’d forgotten the “date, time and place.” Minor details. Guess I was hoping “women’s intuition” would get most folks here at the right time.
What’s the old saying... “The devil is in the details?”
My take-away from these embarrassing “brain farts?”
1. You need to work with a team who has complimentary skills. For the Working Girls here at the Winery, that means not all of us better be going through “menopause therapy” at the same time!
2. To stay competitive you’ve got to be cool! Well, maybe not on the ragged edge of “cool” but since your customers span multiple generations, your business sure as heck better reflect that, too. Between Benoit, Kathy Kidwell who works in the winery office, Libby, Molly and me, we cover 3 (and really close to 4) decades. Good enough.
Ah well, at least when my grandkids call me “Grandma Wine Chick,” I still feel cool!
Owner/Manager, Olympic Cellars Winery
Home of Working Girl Wines
Created By Women, In Support of Women