Lieb Behind the Scenes – November 2016


Lieb Behind the Scenes – November 2016

Ahh fall on Oregon Road. Shorter, quieter days. Stunning deep red sunsets. Cool, crisp winds coming off of the sound. Team Lieb dressed in our unofficial fall uniform – boots, jeans and flannels – pouring a whole lotta Cabernet Franc. While I shudder at the thought of winter being around the corner, I love fall at Lieb. It’s the sign of harvest and the crazy “on” season coming to an end. A time when we’re afforded the chance to pause and look back on all that we’ve accomplished during the better part of the year. The ups, the downs, the wins, the losses and everything in between. And be that tomorrow also happens to be Thanksgiving, I think I’ll use this “Behind the Scenes” opportunity to reflect on what I’m most thankful for this year as it relates to our company. Corny and cliché, I know. But I’m wrapped in a scarf with a pumpkin scented candle burning at my desk, listening Pandora: Counting Crows. This moment demands corniness! And there’s so much to be thankful for!

So, in no particular order, I present the Top 10 Things I’m Thankful For at Lieb Cellars this year:

1) TEAM LIEB. Without question. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The people that work here with me ARE this company. Every one of us pours our heart and soul into doing our part to make sure that this company succeeds. There’s so much love and so much passion. This is not just a job for any of us. It’s family. It’s life. Period.
2) BOX WINE. It was a crazy idea in 2014. Now, in 2016, box wine represents 17% of our total production and will represent 22% in 2017. It’s catching on. It’s becoming a “thing.” And I can’t wait to see where we take it in the next few years.
3) ROSÉ. Like it or not, the rosé craze is here to stay. And for the first time this year, rosé outpaced Pinot Blanc and Bridge Lane Chardonnay and became our #1 seller in the tasting rooms, in wholesale and overall. Lord, you guys are drinking a lot of Bridge Lane Rosé. And to that I say – hip hip rosé!
4) HARVEST 2016. If you read my previous blog post then you know that our 2016 growing season was a bit of a whirlwind. From a delayed bud break to heavy late summer rain events to Hurricane Matthew arriving right smack in the middle of harvest and narrowly missing us, this season delivered quite a few punches. Yet, the fruit we brought in was clean, ripe and full of flavor. And so far, the wines are very promising. We pulled it out! But man, mother nature didn’t make this one easy on us.
5) MY TRIP TO UC DAVIS. In March, I traveled to the University of California at Davis to attend their prestigious, week long Winery Management program. I learned a TON, the most valuable of which was the discovery that there are (big and small) wineries all over the US, some established and some (like us) relatively new … and do you know what we all have in common? Answer: None of us really know what we’re doing. Yep. They’re all just figuring things out, experimenting, growing slowly, taking chances … JUST LIKE US. Success in the business is not achieved by following a strict set up steps or a proven model. It’s about finding your own path and putting in the work. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.
6) OUR DISTRIBUTORS. When a winery seeks external distributors to sell their wine as opposed to staffing an internal team to “direct sell” (to retail accounts and restaurants), the winery sacrifices a certain amount of control. They leave their story telling and brand building in the hands of a group of people who work for another company. As such, moving to a distributor model was a scary proposition for an admitted control freak like me … but a necessary one if we wanted our wines to ever see a shelf or menu outside of New York. In 2013 when I started, we were direct selling in one state (NY). Since then, we’ve expanded to and have established distributor partnerships in 8 states. In 2017, we’ll add 3 more. The key to making distributorships work, we’ve learned? Finding partners who are equally as passionate as we are about our wine and about our story. The distributor sales reps who are selling our wines are invested. They’re geeky wine people like us and they REPRESENT. Amen!
7) SOCIAL MEDIA. Although growing, we’re still a small, up-and-coming company. And that means no big budgets for advertising. I thank Instagram, Facebook and twitter every d@mn day for giving us a platform to reach thousands of fans (and potential new fans) daily. All for the cost of a digital camera and a bit of creativity.
8) OUR WINERY DOG. She’s my golden retriever, Jersey, and THE BEST DOG IN THE WORLD. No chance she’d be left off this list.
9) OUR COMMUNITY. Our friends and neighbor, North Fork Roasting Company, summarizes this region best on their website: “Our location is on the North Fork of Long Island where magical things are happening. There are 40 plus vineyards, emerging micro-breweries and a “slow food” minded restaurant industry. Not to mention there is a farming scene that is thriving and ever evolving with things like the planting of hops and the obsession of organic and sustainable methods. We have local artists, farmers, ranchers, musicians, winemakers, cheese & fish mongers. A true artisans paradise.” We are so, so grateful to be a part of and surrounded by this unique and special community. We are the sum of our parts.
10) OUR POTENTIAL. Far and away the thing I get most excited about at the end of each year at Lieb is our potential for the following (and future years). When we do something wrong one year, I’m eager to fix it the following. When we do something well, I want to do it better. There’s endless opportunity to improve, evolve and grow in this industry, as part of this community and as a company comprised of an insanely talented, smart, passionate group of people. Can’t stop, won’t stop!

And last but not least, too important to be part of the regular list … OUR CUSTOMERS. This past week we had 2 separate wine club members on 2 separate occasions drop off homemade baked goods to our staff … just ‘cause. To all of you out there who follow us on social media, read this blog, visit us in the tasting room, buy and share our wine, and drop off baked goods … THANK YOU. We get the opportunity to love what we do and make good wine because of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers (me with a glass of Blanc de Blancs),

Ami Opisso
General Manager & Certified Sommelier