Hey hey guys!
It’s been 3 months since I sat down to write a blog post and WHERE DO I BEGIN. Whirlwind and insomnia are the two words that immediately come to mind when I think about this year thus far. Whirlwind because we’ve seen a boom in media attention and sales, the likes of which I’ve yet to experience in my 4 years (wow, almost 5 now!) at Lieb. And insomnia because all of the excitement has me up at night running through my ever-growing to-do list and contemplating all the ways to capitalize and build upon this crazy growth.
Every, single, one of our sales channels is kicking butt right now, but the standouts are Wholesale and E-comm. Sales in our wholesale channel (the wine we sell to distributors in 10 states) are up 107% vs. last year, and our e-comm (or online store) sales are up 133%. That means we’ve more than DOUBLED the amount of wine we’re selling to wine shops, restaurants and direct to customers via the internet. Say what?? Bananas.
In my last post, I speculated that our Bridge Lane wine cans would be the major growth driver this year, and that’s proven to be true. We had conservatively planned to make and sell 39,000 cans this year. In two weeks from now, we’ll be filling a 5th batch for a total of 137,000 cans. That means we’re making (and undoubtedly selling out of) almost 6,000 cases worth of CANS alone this year. In the 11 months since our test batch, the can format has exploded to represent almost 20% of our total production. We knew the cans would be big, but THIS BIG? Nope.
What’s most encouraging about our can sales, though, is that they’re not coming at the expense of our other wines and formats. Bottles, boxes and keg sales are ALL growing. The rising tide HAS lifted all boats, and we’re on track to break $3M in sales for the first time in Lieb’s history.
So while the year isn’t over yet, I want to say a quick thank you to our team for all they’ve done and continue to do to drive us toward success. (I appreciate you allowing me this forum to do so!)
To Russell and his cellar crew at the winery who have made fantastic wines for us this year and have somehow, someway managed to keep up with all of our crazy, erratic filling demands. More kegs! More boxes! We have to bottle again! Holy crap, we have to bottle AGAIN! And they’ve delivered. Every time.
To our wholesale crew, Mike, Becca and Anthony, you guys have shattered expectations this year and keep raising the bar. Restaurants and wine shops, especially across Long Island and in NYC, now know about Lieb and Bridge Lane, believe in us and are pouring and selling the heck out of us. You’ve put our wines on the map locally and beyond. The hustle is real, it’s paying off and I’m beyond impressed.
To Alicia and her crew in our tasting rooms, just when I think our tasting room experience, traffic and sales can’t be elevated any further, you prove me wrong. When you compare our tasting rooms to Wollfer or Bedell or Raphael, we don’t come close in terms of our grounds. Our tasting rooms are … modest. But what we lack in grandeur, we make up for in character, warmth, knowledge and value. You’ve made our tasting rooms – which would otherwise be non-descript metal buildings – worthy, sought-after destinations.
To Dana and Alice, who collectively cover wine club, marketing and social media, you ok? Still standing? So far this year, our wine has appeared on a viral video that reached 10MM people, on the Today Show, in USA Today, on Food Network, on The Chew, in Pop Sugar, Refinery 29, Tasting Table and Scary Mommy, TO NAME A FEW. These media outlets found us through social media because of the content Alice has produced, and they featured us because Dana has diligently followed up with samples, photos and any else they needed to complete their pieces. There’s a “buzz” about us right now. And these talented, hard-working gals are responsible for that.
Our CEO, Richard, who shares in my insomnia, has gotten us this far and figured how to fund this crazy growth. John, our accounting assistant, has been helping on weekends to pack online orders, and Jared in the warehouse has been coming in early and staying late to load the trucks that bring wine to our distributors. I’m witnessing an amazing collective effort on the part of #TeamLieb, and mama is so proud and grateful! Let’s keep it up guys!
(Ok, end thank you tour.)
In other “behind the scenes” news, the 2018 vintage is underway. It was a cool, rainy spring, so that delayed bud break by a few days, but this warm summer sun is catching us back up. The vines are now in the flowering phase and the flowers are just starting to bloom. They’ll soon self-pollinate and then we’ll begin to see clusters of hard, tiny, baby grapes. So far, so good, and our vineyard crew has been keeping up with all of the maintenance work despite being down a guy. Pray for warm and dry conditions now through September so that Russell can continue to craft the bright, clean, balanced wines that you’ve come to love.
Finally, a couple North Fork announcements because if you know me then you know I LOVE where I live and work.
1) An artisanal doughnut shop, North Fork Doughnut Company, has opened a few miles away and LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH. Two words: maple bacon. Team Lieb’s summer bods are definitely in jeopardy. You gotta check them out.
2) Noah’s on the Road taco truck, long-time friends of ours, has opened a brick & mortar called Mattitaco in the town of, you guessed it, Mattituck. In my opinion, the North Fork needs more affordable, fast-casual dining spots, so I’m all about Mattitaco. Plus their tacos are the bomb. I highly recommend you add it your next Nofo itinerary!
Ok, that’s all I’ve got for now because I gotta get back to work. When I post again in September, we’ll be just starting harvest. I look forward to getting my two girls (Renny is turning 4 and Gabi is turning 2) out in the vineyard for a day of picking (meaning eating)!
Thank you, as always, for following and for your interest in what’s going on at our little (but growing!) wine company on the North Fork. Supporters like you are the reason we love what we do.
General Manager & Certified Sommelier