My December post was about looking back, this one will be about looking ahead. Perhaps it’s the fact that my team has started to get vaccinated. Perhaps it’s spring on the horizon. Perhaps it’s because my family and I are about to go on our first real vacation in a year (here we come, Catskills!). Whatever the reason, I find myself focusing on the positive only right now. I’m thinking about what I have instead of what I don’t. What I’ve gained instead of what I’ve lost. Where my team and I are taking this business instead of where it’s been. I know the pandemic is not over, and I’m still taking precautions. But it’s time to cut the pandemic baggage and forge ahead.
So, what are we working on and what do we have to look forward here at Lieb this year?
Compared to all that we’ve accomplished over my past 7 years as GM, I would say this is a light year when it comes to new projects. But, quality, not quantity. For a multitude of reasons, it’s a heavier lift these days to get new ideas off the ground. We have to work harder and be more resourceful and flexible. All of these projects are currently “in process.” Some are close to launch, some are farther out. But they’re on the board, and that’s what counts this year. Progress.
1) New Lieb Labels – I’ve teased this before, and we’re so close! Our Lieb labels are getting a makeover. They’ve all been redesigned and approved by the government (yes, we have to get our wine labels approved by the federal government – wild, right?). I’m hoping to start rolling out the new design with our 2020 Pinot Blanc which will be bottled in May or June. What could hold us up, however, is an equipment change. Our winery is getting a new high-speed bottling line soon, and Russell, our winemaker, is concerned that it may not accommodate our custom, wrap-around labels. If this is the case, the redesign will need a redesign, and we’ll likely have to start with the reds in the fall. This is where being positive and flexible comes in .
2) Lieb Subscription – You know how when you order something on Amazon, you have the option of either purchasing it one time, or you can check the “Subscribe & Save” box and get discounted regular deliveries? Well, that’s what we’re going to offer for our wine. Next month, we’ll be introducing Lieb Subscription. You can either choose “Whites & Rosés” or “Reds,” and we’ll deliver 4 bottles to you every month at 20% off and with free shipping. If you live far away and order online from us frequently, rejoice! We got you.
3) Bridge Lane Outdoor Redesign – We love our casual, no-frills picnic area at Bridge Lane. Rainbow picnic tables, string lights, lawn games and occasionally some live music. But servicing that area from the tasting room is tough, and it’s time to step up our game a bit. You guys want to be outside. We need to invest in making the outdoor experience over there better, all while keeping BL’s good-time vibes. I’m excited for this. Stay tuned.
4) Riesling & Syrah – We prayed to the wine gods (a.k.a. Russell), and because the weather cooperated, he agreed to make a varietal Riesling and a varietal Syrah from the 2020 vintage. Both are tiny productions (200 cases of Riesling and 100 cases of Syrah), but we’ll savor e v e r y bottle. Riesling will be released sometime this summer. Syrah will be released sometime this winter and will be for wine club members only.
5) Birdie’s Rosé Spritzers – I’ve teased this project as well and wish I had better news. It’s not cancelled, it’s just delayed. We’ve been working for some time now on launching a new rosé spritzer brand called Birdie’s. (Those of you who follow us on social media will get the reference.) We had hoped to launch this summer, but surprise, the aluminum can shortage that we’ve been hearing about for almost a year finally caught up to us. 250ml aluminum cans are NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. We tried third parties, distributors, mobile canners, and even went direct to the manufacturer in a desperate attempt to purchase an entire truckload of cans. It didn’t work. They’re out until October, earliest. Looks like Birdie’s will be a 2022 project. Patience is not one of Birdie’s strong suits.
6) Export – We’re in discussion with and have samples out to potential importers in Western Europe. Acclaimed wine writer Jancis Robinson was the key note speaker at the annual B.E.V. NY conference recently. She remarked that NY wines are “trendy” right now but that in order to establish a reputation for world-class wine, we need to hold back some for export. We agree, and we’re working on it. Identifying and securing import partners in foreign markets is a long game, but I’m hopeful we’ll get some traction this year.
That’s it. A small but mighty list. I’ve never been more grateful to close one year and open another. I’ve never been more excited to work hard on these projects and to count all of the small wins.
When our Wholesale Director, Mike, and I need to remind each other to stay positive and focus on all of the good that’s happening, we sign off our texts and emails with “sunshine and rainbows.”
It’s a new freakin’ day, and 2021 is bringing sunshine and rainbows.
General Manager & Certified Sommelier