For the past seven to twenty years (depending on which one of us you ask), our lives have been consumed mostly by wine. Don’t get us wrong, we have loved it- even on the days when it’s 95 degrees and you’re using hands, shovel, or anything you can find to move Sauvignon Blanc grapes aside in the press so that you can keep up with the volume pouring out of the hopper before it overflows (after a few rounds, it becomes a (perhaps sick) game to try to avoid defeat and have to stop the hopper and rotate the press). Also on the days when you spend four to five hours cleaning equipment to process grapes for only an hour. And surprisingly, even on the days when a one-and-a-half-ton bin of grapes and liquid gets away from you 15 feet up on the forklift and falls completely upside down on the ground, sending a near tidal wave of fruit and wine across the crush pad (we have pictures of the aftermath, if you’re curious). Even though we have loved it and it’s incredibly fulfilling to create a product; in the truest sense of the word, it is still work.
Early in our winery owning days, we were able to get out to Napa and Sonoma to visit tasting rooms and gather some great ideas that we were able to bring back and implement into our own tasting room procedures, staff training, and most importantly, customer experience. Over the other years, anytime we traveled out-of-state we made it a priority to visit at least one or two local wineries. Thus far, we’ve tasted some locally produced wines in Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Tennessee, Washington, and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Regardless of if we liked the wines or whether or not we had a positive experience, it was always educational and always helped to bring perspective to practices in our own winery. On more than one occasion, both of us have definitely commented that we can’t imagine what it would be like to visit a winery or attend a festival and not have it feel like work, to some degree. Well, we never imagined that time would come, but we now have the opportunity to experience wine tasting as a consumer.
When we decided to sell the winery, we knew that “taking time off” really meant that we needed to find something else to work on that was less stress-inducing and provided us with a reduced amount of crazy in our schedule. Not working was never an option for two motivated (read: can’t sit still) individuals like ourselves. While Jay likes to give Jen all of the credit for creating Anemoi (it truly was a joint effort), he gets full credit for conceiving the idea of Tin Sheets Consulting. We enjoy working with wine and wanted to continue to be a part of the industry in some capacity, without the burden of owning our own winery and vineyard- and consulting seemed like the perfect way to keep us involved. Whether through fate, timing, or just because, our professional strengths lie in different places. Jay is much more outgoing, he can talk about the intricacies of making wine with experts or explain in the simplest and most understandable terms to help neophytes expand their wine knowledge. Even though he has a Liberal Arts degree in Fine Arts and Physiological Psychology, his understanding of chemistry in winemaking and beyond, puts Jen, with a degree in Geology and three semesters of college-level chemistry, to shame. Jen is a little more shy, but loves the behind-the-scenes action, from completing mountains of paperwork to most things human resources-related to writing wine club newsletters and tasting menus. So we figured, with our combined talents we had a lot to offer to wineries getting started or trying to grow, particularly those in other non-traditional regions (states outside of California, New York, Oregon, and Washington)- often referred to as the “Other 46”.
So, why are we visiting wineries and tasting wines? Well, first and foremost because we want to share our experiences with you. We love wine, we love drinking wine, and we love sharing wine. It may be clichéd, but wine really is best enjoyed with friends. At home in our wine fridge, that sadly was too large to fit in the Airstream, we have some exciting bottles of wine both inherited and bought. We sometimes struggle with when to open them, not because they won’t be enjoyed or don’t pair well with our frozen pizza or go-to burrito dinner, but because it’s always more fun to share them with someone who hasn’t previously tried a wine with that particular grape before or doesn’t have access to a 27-year old Bordeaux. By visiting wineries in lesser-known regions and trying wines that might not be accessible outside of a winery or local region, we can virtually share these wines with you. And as former winery owners in one of the “Other 46”, we can appreciate how regions outside of the famous ones don’t often get written about, recognized, or even visited; so we feel that it isn’t necessarily our duty, but certainly our pleasure to help spread the word.
Finally, and selfishly, we all know that all work and no play is a recipe for tired and stressed, and since this what we were trying to get away from it was important that fun be incorporated into our “work” as well. It’s impossible to completely take off our winemaker/business owner hats; but without looking for ways to constantly improve what we’re doing, stay abreast of trends, and provide an unforgettable customer service experience, for the first time in our professional wine careers, we have the ability to simply enjoy the visits and tastings from a personal perspective.
We will post reviews of the wineries that we visit, our experiences, and will mostly focus on highlighting a few of the wines that we try to find most interesting to share. Cheers!