I've been hesitant in posting during this last week of 2010. "Wine of the Year", "Winery to Watch", "Year End in Pictures", 'Wrapping up 2010"...so many usual ways to go. What should I should write and say about 2010? Well there's one very honest and true sentence to write: The past 52 weeks were life changing.
Looking back, January and February were full of thrilling times for Davis Family Vineyards in Houston with winning the Grand Champion Best of Show Award for their Napa Cabernet Sauvignon in the biggest and best Wine Competition in the US. March started off in Mendoza, Argentina where I was thrown out of bed when the devastating magnitude 8.8 struck neighboring Chile. A real sign of what blind-sided event was on it's way...?
The Italian portfolio of Indigenous Selections came into my life by a very generous friend in the business by late March. I landed from Argentina to lead a Texas sized staff training and kick-off with the amazing Liz O'Brien, the co-founder of Indigenous. Days were now perfectly full of teaching and selling wines of some of most wonderful families now from Italy too. The month of March ended with an incredible trip to visit Handley Cellars in the Anderson Valley. I can't wait to open "Day Dream", a Pinot Noir I blended alongside Milla Handley that weekend. LIFE WAS GOOD!
April began with a memorable weekend with LIOCO at the Michaud Vineyard. Pig roast, great wines and some of my favorite people in the wine business made this killer weekend a lasting memory for me. The wines of LIOCO are frankly outstanding, every single one of them and I'm honored to be among the LIOCO circle of friends.
The week after tax-day in April, I encountered the most devastating news ever in my professional life. The amazing portfolio of Vine Connections would no longer need my help in Texas. Those who know the truth behind this horrific decision have held me up over the months and inspired me to keep on keeping on. The producers of their portfolio were near and dear to me and all things that drove me out of bed each morning - to do the best job one could ever do for them in Texas. Building and branding Argentine wine and Ginjo Sake from Japan was "cutting edge" and I fought for their presence in fine wine shops and restaurants every hour of the day for 5 years straight. I learned so much from the leaders at Vine Connections over the years and still to this day find their decision to cut me out among the greatest disappointments in my lifetime.
The show must go on...the summer months brought new energy and time to lift up my producers who I work with alongside Avante Beverages. Over the last 6 months, the fine folks at Avante have sold thousands of cases, for this I am most thankful for during this crazy year of the 3-Tier business. I decided to really put the name "TexaCali Ali" on the West Coast grid and move out to Sonoma County in late August.
The Pellegrini Family Vineyards in the Russian River were changing gears and I had the opportunity to help restructure and create a strong consumer sales plan for this legendary family. Running TexaCali back in Texas (thank God for Peet's coffee flowing in the early morning hours!), flying in ever so often and working from the Pellegrini winery has been exhilarating. TexaCali Wine Co. on it's 6th year in business is finally working in true-form.
Thanks to all of you for your faithful following and Cheers to ringing in the New Year with your favorite bottles of wine tonight! See ya around the TexaCali Wine Trail next year - Ali