Justice Grace Vineyards
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Justice Grace Vineyards blog. Where politics, social justice, and wine intersect.

The Life and Times of a micro-Winery, Part II

Boutique Winery, Justice Grace Vineyards

The Need for Human Cloning:

As a sole proprietor, just like most, I am jack-of-all trades, and master of none. Not because of masochistic tendencies, but simply because of money. Can't afford to pay anyone, not even yourself.

Justice Grace Vineyards, the 1 1/2 person (me and my 6 year old boy) winery that it is, is somewhat unique in the current world of “custom crush” enabled wineries, in that, from the very beginning, I wanted to do everything myself. Especially the wine related functions: securing and working in vineyards, winemaking, bottling and delivery to the customer. This is in stark contrast to the hundreds of “wineries” that pay someone to source grapes from big name vineyards, and also make the wine for them. You will not ever know this from their marketing. In fact, you might even get the impression that they are completely hands-on in all of these areas. In contrast, the painstaking path I have chosen has required me to try to develop skills and knowledge in a number of areas, as you will see below. As a result, I can feel proud about what's in every bottle, and ensure that the quality meets my high standards.

This blog post is one in a series about the Life and Times of my micro-Winery, Justice Grace Vineyards. I thought it might be interesting to start with a glimpse of the many roles and skills that I needed to learn from scratch when I made the leap into this new life, and continue to refine over the past 10 years. It hasn't been easy, but it's been unbelievably exciting, challenging, chaotic, rewarding and fun.

I wouldn't have it any other way...

I'll try to break down the responsibilities into categories where in some larger wineries, there might be separate people dedicated to such tasks. Here at JGV // Shoe Shine Wine, it's all me...

1) Business Owner/ Manager:

- Create vision for company and make sure all efforts are aligned. Constantly   re-evaluate
- Form corporate entity and maintain annually
- Obtain Insurance annually

2) Compliance Officer:

- Obtain business and wine specific permits at Federal, State, and Local level. Maintain annually.
- Obtain label approvals for bottling

 3) Accounting

- Bookkeeping
- Bill Pay, Accounts collection
- Taxes

 4) Brand Manager

- Create and develop brand(s)
- Guide graphics designers/ artists to collaborate
- Community engagement, activist campaigns
- Web site content

5) Vineyard/ Grower Relations:

- Vineyard research/ selection
- Vineyard work prior to Harvest (if permitted)
- Haul grapes during Harvest from vineyard to winery

 6) Winemaker

- Develop unique style
- Refine and innovate approach per vineyard or varietal
- Play with Barrels/ Coopers per vineyard or varietal
- Experiment Experiment Experiment
- Listen to customers and be open to tweaking... Yada Yada, repeat

7) Bottler:

- Hand bottle All wines
- Hand label all bottles
- “Capsules”: buy fabric > hand cut and hand-tie around each bottle over cork
- Haul case goods to warehouse

8) Vendor Selection:

- Research, solicit quotes and acquire equipment
- Barrel/ Coopers: acquire and manage inventory/ usage. New vs Used
- Printer for Labels
- Corks
- Glass: annual changes based on unusual requirements and availability

9) PR/ Media relations:

- Initiate and develop media relations and interest
- Pray

10) Marketing:

- Social Media: develop strategy, stay up-to-date, try to stay calm, and do something/ anything: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest etc
- Write content for Blog
- Drink your wines often: for “accurate” Tasting Notes, of course
- Update all Web Site Content
- Manage Community donation requests
- Arrange private dinners and Presentations
- Research Industry developments

11) Sales:

- Cold-call restaurants, wine bars, retailers
- Meditate/ accept/ and come to terms with being ignored... Repeat
- Go to same exact places the next opportunity.
- Meditate/ accept/ and come to terms with being ignored... Repeat
- Give up and engage consumers directly
- Schedule conference call with Accountant (yourself).
- Limit your complaints about the sales manager's performance to 5 minutes
- Go back to cold-calling

12) Distribution:

- Schedule deliveries with individual customers
- Hand deliver all sales
- Manage Inventory at multiple wine warehouses

13) Customer/ Community Relations:

- Communicate/ respond to customer inquiries, donation requests
- Maintain customer database

14) Child Entertainer:

- Keep young boy interested at winery so he doesn't wander off into de-stemmer unattended

15) Wine Photographer

- Because I have so much free time!

16) Social Justice

- Participate in and Support campaigns as much as humanly possible
- Research campaigns for future support and involvement