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Saturday, 14 January 2017

Clearing up the Clutter (and planning for the future)

This is the new look of my my part of the winery:

Lots of empty space, everything nice ‘n’ tidy, and everything in its place. I’ve spent a good few weeks tidying everything up, throwing out rubbish, and classifying and storing wines and equipment in a more rational and tidy manner. It must be a phase I’m going through, or maybe it’s just obsession and eccentricity, but I’m getting more and more uncomfortable with the chaos and lack of structure in my life (and in my wine business). Which I was OK with for a long time. But it must be time for a sea change I suppose!

This is just Phase 1 of a longer-term project. Because apart from just keeping everything tidy and not having ‘stuff’ lying around at random, I also want to create some specific areas in all this empty space that I’ve liberated. Eventually, I will have:

1.              Tasting areas, where I can organize proper tastings for visitors and clients 

2.              An office area, where I can do paperwork and correspondence

3.              A merchandising area where I can set up my bottles of wine and info sheets, etc

4.              A chill-out area, for lying down, lounging, reading, sleeping, etc

Here’s the tasting area as it is at the moment:

Comfortable tasting area
Those bottles that can be seen on the table are bottles that I’ve opened for tastings in the past, and which I keep there on purpose to prove (beyond any reasonable doubt) that natural wines (ie wines without any added sulphites or other chemicals) can last perfectly well for a long time without deteriorating or turning into vinegar. It’s so boring and annoying to hear and read about how natural wines are so delicate and fragile that they are undrinkable after a few days of being opened. The truth is the total opposite.
These bottles, that you can see on the left were opened on 14th January 2014, (that's 2 years ago - to the day!) and they are still drinkable.

Save the date
ye olde oxydyzed wine samples

Obviously, they have become tremendously oxidized as I keep them there on the table at ambient temperature (which ranges from 8ºC in winter to 25ºC in summer) and closed with just a cork; and which I open and close every time I receive a visitor! They are of course very dark, and obviously unsellable commercially speaking, but the point I’m trying to prove with this ongoing experiment, is that good quality natural wines do NOT automatically turn into vinegar. I’m pretty sure they will eventually, and I’m looking forward to seeing how many more years it will take.

But getting back to the tasting area…  as you can see it’s a very laid back tasting area, with comfortable settees. This will influence the so-called objectivity of the tasters, but for the better, IMO, because I believe that wine is for enjoying and not for analysing or solving as if each bottle of wine were a quadratic equation! By sitting back comfortably on a sofa and tasting the wines in a relaxed and comfortable setting, it will provide a truer picture of what my wines are all about. But as there is no accounting for taste, I will also provide a more uncomfortable tasting environment for the more analytic visitor, ie a high table with hard stools with space to take notes and lay out laptops, etc. I have the luxury of having so much space in my winery, which is sadly underutilized at the moment, that I can easily afford to do this.

No photos available of this uncomfortable tasting area, because as yet I don’t have a table or high stools. But watch this space!

Another area of which I do have photos is this underground concrete ‘cellar’. This used to be a holding tank for wine back in the days before the village co-op went bankrupt. There are 32 such tanks (3 m x 3m by 3 m). Recently I cleaned out two of them, and installed some bottle racks, and laid out all the old, odd, declassified, remainders of old vintages that I can’t sell commercially any more, as the quantities are too small. I’m also thinking of putting in a few seats and a mini table, to do underground tastings!

Cellar entrance

view into cellar
view of rack and wines in cellar

Me building rack with screwdriver
Enough for now.

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