Growing a vineyard and growing wine sales

What came first, the chicken or the egg? I don’t lose much sleep over this questions as I am a scientist and believe in logic, experimentation, research and rationalised results. Evolution of course allowed, what we know as, the chicken evolve from other egg laying creatures. We know that dinosaurs laid eggs and that dinosaurs had feathers. The chicken is merely a pathetic dinosaur. They are hilarious to watch though. I used to breed chickens at the farm when I was a young whipper snapper and had no friends.

What comes first the sales or the vineyard? They are both equally as important as the other. For me anyway. For our model, we need the vineyard and the sales. Without one, we cannot have the other to create a sustainable business and brand. Having said that, having a vineyard isn’t necessary and that is quite the case and proven model in a little place called Champagne. Plenty of big names that will have heard of undoubtedly, will not own all of their vineyards if any. They buy grapes from other growers, which they make into wine and brand it with their labels (or other’s labels) and go onto sell it to likes of you and me.

So at Bluestone we saw it hugely important to have our own vineyard to support our brand. Not only does this mean we control the quality of grapes on our own terms but it means we can live and breath the process and pass this knowledge onto the consumer and show them the process from start to finish, grape to glass. The process of creating a sparkling wine brand is immensely long. I will probably never see the financial fruits of our labour and the next generation will be lucky to also. Creating a sparkling wine product feels almost as long. From when the vines go into the ground it can take as long as 6 years minimum. This is because you don’t usually produce fruit until your 3rd year of growing and then the wine needs to be aged for 2-3 years (depending on style and there are other factors affecting this).

6 years without sales is tough for anyone to buffer against. We made the decision to purchase grapes from the estate that are making our wine for our early years of existence, Hambledon vineyard. A fantastic producer of grapes and wine of extremely high quality. I would implore you to seek them out and give them a visit and buy some of their wine.

So by purchasing grapes in 2015, the year before we planted, meant that it would allow us to have a product ready sooner in the process to generate sales to help prop the business up until sales of wine alone could hold the business. Not only would this provide us with potential sales but it meant that we could get in early with label design and iron out any kinks by the time the release of our own wine came out. I’m not sure how people, you the consumer, feels about this process but it is very common in the wine industry and I’m not ashamed of letting you know that this is the way we’ve had to operate in order to create a brand. The product is excellent and the branding is beautiful and I think it is a great statement of things to come from us at Bluestone.

I believe that you learn from your past and previous experiences and this shapes a person, brand or company. We don’t have that or have very little of that so far. Therefore we need to create a past by doing things a way in order to carve our future and do things our way.

I better get back to it. Toby is probably wondering where I am. Oh, he and his girlfriend are pregnant by the way and they are due mid May. Super exciting. I will have my first nephew. More future hands in the vineyard ;)

Get in touch, come and see us at the vineyard or comment on this and let me know what you think. Don’t be too harsh as I don’t take criticism well. Just kidding… but seriously.

Nat McConnell

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