January 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
A lot of folks ask me about what it is like to sell wine on the road. My answer is – it depends on the geographic location, time of year, but most importantly the distributor that represents us and their sales team.The way that distribution of wine works is that you have a different distributor for each state that represents your brand and their sales team is responsible for selling that particular portfolio. One of my biggest factors in picking a distributor for a specific state is looking over the wines they carry and seeing how we are going to be showcased.
Texas has always been a wine loving state and I recently returned from a sales trip to Houston, Texas, where our wines were very well received and the hospitality was big “as things usually are in Texas”. We have teamed up with Vintage Select in Houston as our distributor, which is owned by Buddy and Trish Hagner. I stayed at their home while I was working in the market, which is not completely unusual while I’m traveling, but is always greatly appreciated. Buddy is a 35 year veteran to the wine industry and knows it inside and out.
The thing I love most about this specific distributor is their focus on restaurants and wine bars particularly. I have nothing against small wine shops that focus on boutique brands, but the big box retailers are not the best fit for Kokomo wines. In fact my main objective in distributing our wines is to get Kokomo wine on the wine list at the coolest restaurants in the country. On this trip I feel like I did just that; thanks to Buddy and his team.
I was showing my new release 2012 vintage while I was there and the response was stunning. These wines are really starting to take shape and I love the balance that we achieved in crafting these food friendly gems. Thank you Houston for the warm welcome and I look forward to some awesome pairings in our future.
January 3, 2014 § 1 Comment
Last week we lost a true legend to all of us who had the opportunity to know him. Tom Mukaida passed away on December 29th, at the age of 94. He lived a great, long life, but it was still tough to see such a passionate and special man pass on. Tom is the father-in-law of Kokomo Winery partner Randy Peters and lived most of his life at what we refer to as Peters Vineyard. He worked on that ranch as an apple orchard for several years before he had the opportunity to purchase it in the 50’s. Randy helped him farm apples there in the 60’s and 70’s and then had the vision to pull up the Gravenstein apples and plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the early 80’s.
Those of you that know our wines at Kokomo are probably familiar with Peters Vineyard. I crafted the very first Pinot I ever made from that vineyard. It had a huge impact to our Kokomo brand, getting 91 points in the Wine Spectator, and capturing many fans and future wine club members. Having the opportunity to make wine from this vineyard has always been very special to me. Anytime I would show up to sample fruit, I was always greeted by a smiling Tom Mukaida with some type of little gift for me, typically sparkling apple juice. On some occasions, Tom would tell me stories about the history of the ranch and the apples that used to grow there and it was very apparent he loved this piece of land. Every year he helped us even to our most recent vintage at the age of 94. Tom always played a part in the farming of the vineyard. He would always come with Randy to the winery and deliver the grapes with the same remark every year, “I hope you like our fruit.”
It is always extremely difficult to lose great people in this world, but we will always remember Tom Mukaida for his gracious spirit, giving nature, love for working his land, and above all his integrity.
-Cheers to a great farmer!