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Monday, 7 April 2014

Getting ready for REAL Fair 2014

Yay, this Thursday 10th April I’m off to London Town! To the REAL Wine Fair. It will be a nice break for me, as I’ve managed to needlessly stress myself out lately instead of enjoying!

Boring but necessary tasks:

  • Buy return ticket Madrid-London with (Sl)Eazy Jet. Check – Did that a few weeks ago. Printed out the boarding passes already
  • Accommodation. Call friend and ask to sleep on his couch.  Check. Confirmed. Couch available
  • Send wines. Check. Done that already. But boy was it complicated! Now there are new EU-wide online forms to be filled in which are SO USER-UNFRIENLY, that you wouldn’t believe it if I could be bothered going into the grindingly boring details. Just to say that it took me several days, including liaising with the good people from REAL fair, AND their warehouse and shipping people. The forms are diabolically Byzantine, obviously designed just to keep specialist form-designing bureaucrats (un)gainfully employed. Better than having them roaming the streets I suppose! But no, relax, I’m not going to go on a rant here! hahaha :)
  • Pack bag. Nope, haven’t done that yet. But I don’t really need much for 5 days: change of clothes, extra bottles for wine, toothbrush, and not much else. Sandwiches and fruit for the flight, so I don’t need to buy any overpriced industrial sub-products on the plane! 
Some boxes of wine, ready for shipping off to REAL Wine Fair

So that’s that all sorted.

But like I said, I’ve managed to stress myself out lately for no good reason. I managed to finish pruning all my vineyards this weekend, which I think is a record for me. Usually I run very late and don’t finish till May some years! Also I’m in the process of designing new labels, which is proving to be really difficult and stressful! I am in fact all labeled out, and I don’t know what I like or even think any more. I need to get away from it all! These tasks are supposed to be enjoyable, not stressful.

But anyway, once I’m in London, my main goal is to reach an agreement with an importer in the UK and start exporting my wines there. It’s high time! I’ve been wanting to have my wines in the UK for a long time now, but have never got round to doing it.

The reason being that it’s hard being a one-man-band, small-time producer, because there are so many different areas of activity that all have to be dealt with; and each area is a universe in itself! Here’s the way I like to classify all the activities that I feel are necessary:

1. Tending my vineyards (and sourcing grapes)
2. Winemaking
3. Marketing, promotion and sales
4. Admin, paperwork, bureaucracy

Each one of these four main areas is of course incredibly complex and time-consuming, and so really, I only manage to do the absolute minimum necessary, in order to be able to produce quality wines (AND keep working at my day-job AND maintain diplomatic relations with friends and family) hahaha you gotta laugh!

For example, "Tending the Vineyards" includes at least the following:
- Pruning
- Removing canes
- Ploughing
- Cutting back grass
- Manureing
- Thinning
- Harvesting
- Transporting grapes to winery
- Dealing with vineyard owners
- Dealing with harvesters

And all of these sub-areas require time and thought and money; and can themselves be sub-divided into even more specific activities! And the same applies to the other three main areas of activities!

I find that sometimes I get carried away with one activity (for example, pruning) and before you know it weeks have passed and you’re late with some other activity (winemaking in the bodega, for example, or some paperwork deadline, or whatever). Or you take a look at your email in-box, and Oh Woe there are several important and/or interesting emails waiting for a reply. Which is of course rather frustrating because I know that I'm not doing a good job.

Anyway, the important thing for me, as I try to remind myself, is to (try to) relax, make good wine, and enjoy! I don’t even have a boss to deal with. Only me myself, and my own aspirations! I don’t NEED to stress myself out and worry about unimportant trivia!

But I’m not complaining. Far from it. I’d rather be doing this, than being bored, reduced to watching TV, or some such lifestyle! Maybe I need to do some yoga?

So really, what I'm most looking forward to about going to REAL (apart from finding an importer, which is of course really important) is just getting away from the label designing, bottling and corking up and shipping out, and sort of taking a deep breath, before getting back to the real world again in Madrid and getting down to some good productive work :). And of course tasting lots of wines and chatting with lots of people!

So dear readers (all 50 of you!), if you are in London this weekend, do come and visit me at Table 56, and taste my wines.

Here are some pics of the possible labels I’ve been playing around with:

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