March is Washington Wine Month. How are you going to celebrate? With over 700 wineries, Washington is the country’s second largest producer of wine behind California. Whether you’re enjoying the oldest (and largest) winery in the state, Chateau St. Michelle, or one of the 25 wineries that have a home in Spokane, there isn’t a shortage of options. I’d like to offer a challenge for this month (and actually every month). Let’s start a revolution.
The “Buy Wine Direct” movement is a challenge to buy wine from the source or to support locally owned wine shops. Initiatives like HR-1161 threatening direct shipment of wine and Washington’s I-1183 bringing in more big box wine shops, supporting the local merchant and winery is more important than ever. Yes, wineries use distributors to get their product to Costco or large grocers. They do this to get their product to the consumer, however using the middle man cuts deeply into their profits. Buying direct from the local winery adds to the local economy and has a direct financial impact. Local wine shops in Spokane are feeling the pinch of the upcoming changes with I-1183 “It’s like a gorilla is moving into the neighborhood,” said John Allen, co-owner of Spokane’s Vino!
Let’s use Washington Wine Month to start a movement. It doesn’t have to be JUST in Washington. Love bold Napa Cabs? Get online and order direct. Join a Sonoma wine club. Support the regional wine shop. The benefits will be more than economic. Chances are you’ll get wine that has been better cared for in climate controlled settings, better service, and that warm feeling knowing you did the right thing.
Whether you Google+, Tweet or Facebook, use the tag, #buywinedirect. Let’s start a revolution. Are you in? Retweet and share this post to spread the word.
Back to the best wine state in the union!
Washington is a perfect climate for growing wine grapes. Many of the states premium growing regions boast over 300 days of sunshine each year. Wine grapes love long, hot, dry days and cool nights. The Cascade Mountains “rain shadow” effect helps create the climate that viticulturists love. 80% of Washington’s wine grapes are grown in the Columbia Basin in and around the Tri-Cities.
Washington also boasts many unique geological growing regions. With 12 US approved viticulture regions (AVA), the state produces many different quality wine varieties. While California may be known for its Cabernet and Oregon its Pinot Noir, Washington produces quality Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot and even quality Spanish varietals Tempranillo and Grenache (Garnacha). Wine lovers can explore the glacial and awe inspiring views of Lake Chelan, the Norman Rockwellesque town of Walla Walla (with over 100 wineries) or the original vineyard driven and rustic Yakima Valley.
While Spokane is not a wine growing region (although Davide Trezzi in Green Bluff is giving it a good go), we are home to 25 different wineries including two of the state’s oldest, Latah Creek and Arbor Crest and a few of the state’s newest V du V and Overbluff Cellars. With the addition of Nectar Tasting Room, Market Place Wine Bar and Cougar Crest Winery, downtown Spokane now has 13 tasting rooms housing 19 wineries. Spokane’s “cork” district is maturing like a finely aged Cabernet.
So, celebrate Washington Wine Month with Washington wine. Whether you’re out at a local restaurant or looking for wine for your next dinner party, buy a high quality Washington wine. While you’re at it buy local. “Buy Wine Direct” is a movement to support locally owned wine shops and local wineries by buying wine direct from them. As you do, more revenue dollars stay in the local community. 90% of Washington wineries produce small quantities and rely on direct purchases and shipments to sustain their business.
Check out these resources for Washington Wine Month.
Space. The final frontier. At the beginning of the year we set out with three goals in mind. 1) More food options. Last week we announced an expansion of our menu with some unique partnerships with nearby restaurants. 2) Market more like a winery. More on this in the coming weeks. 3) Greater focus on our event rental business. That brings us to today’s big announcement. We have entered into an agreement to lease the adjoining 1000 square feet next to Nectar (formerly known as the LaunchPadINW Training Center).
Over the next several weeks you’ll see the space transform into what we will be calling “The Barrel Room.” We will continue the modern vibe into the space by adding one of our signature chandeliers, a soft seating area, matching color scheme, window branding, and a wall of wine barrels. The additional space gives us the flexibility that we’ve been missing during our first year in business. With The Barrel Room we can now host private events up to 40 people while we are open for business. We can even rent out the Nectar side and move our normal wine tasting business to The Barrel Room.
Rental rates will be $75 per hour for The Barrel Room, $125 per hour for Nectar and $175 per hour for all 3000 sq ft. All event inquiries can be directed to Sulo or Lauren at email@example.com or visit http://drinknectar.com/event-rental/ for more information.
MEMBERSHIP JUST GOT EVEN SWEETER
With this additional space, our Club Nectar membership just got even more valuable. Club Nectar members can rent the space at 25% off the published rates. Imagine, host one party and your $75 annual membership fee is paid for. For more information about our clubs (and to purchase) click here.
*****PRESS RELEASE – NECTAR EXPANDS TO INCLUDE THE BARREL ROOM*****
Nectar Tasting Room, at 120 N. Stevens, just got even bigger with the announcement of the acquisition of the adjoining 1000 square feet next door. The new space (formerly the LaunchPadINW training center), will be decorated in the same urban modern style of Nectar and will also include a wall of wine barrels. “The Barrel Room gives us the flexibility to host private events, small and large, while we remain open to the public,” says owner Josh Wade. “A focus of 2012 is to expand our event rental options and take advantage of our beautiful space and convenient downtown location.” The Barrel Room plans to open on April 1. With their expanded food menu and the additional square footage for events, Nectar is continuing its focus on being a top spot in Downtown Spokane. “We can now rent the space in three different ways, 1000 sq ft, 2000 sq ft or the full 3000 sq ft for large groups,” says Josh. For event inquiry contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nectar Tasting Room is a shared space of five Washington wineries from various regions across the state. Visitors can enjoy an educational wine tasting of five wines (rotates weekly), wine by the glass, and purchase wines to take home and enjoy as well. “We are a winery just like any local winery, we just happen to have 45 wines on the menu to choose from,” says Wade.
16 Jan 2012
Wine often comes across as stuffy and snobby. Wine, however, is an alcoholic beverage and has a humorous side as well. The following funny wine quotes always make me laugh and I hope they bring a smile to your face as well. Many of these were found on friends Facebook pages and Twitter streams. Enjoy, pin away and share. Enjoy life with friends, drink happy.
Another reason why I prefer PCs over MACs – they just seem to understand me.
Classic quote. I’ve seen this at several friends houses.
Men are like fine wine. They all start out like grapes and it’s our job to stomp on them, keep them in the dark, until they mature into something you’d like to have dinner with.
No one likes a quitter. Drink up!
So that is why the the Christmas tree always dries up before Christmas.
Do the right thing…make the call…don’t be that guy.
Year one of Nectar Tasting Room is in the books and it has been a year of incredible life, business, and marketing lessons. Being a business owner I have experienced some moments of extreme joy, gratitude, frustration and sheer terror. Nectar is my first business venture and as an entrepreneurial virgin I learned a great deal during the first year. I’m not offering any of this as expert advice to young start ups, rather consider it some viewpoints from someone who went down the road and experienced a modest amount of success and a great deal of opportunities for growth.
Things that didn’t work
I’ll start with the biggest areas of opportunity that I learned and observed from the first year.
This seems like a simple no brainer but a lot of energy goes into opening a business and making projections, securing funds, getting permits and just opening the flippin’ doors, planning the details of a full year of events and activities can be a challenge. At Nectar we overlooked the various events that pulled people out of the downtown core, the nuances of local events like Hoopfest, Armed Forces Lilac Parade, and the summer exodus for many Spokane residents.
In 2012 we have these events locked in and will be marketing differently during the summer. The best advice I can give to a start up is to take a moment to plan. When you’ve got things planned out, sit down with a group of business friends and plan even more. When that is over, keep planning.
One of my biggest struggles this year was staying organized and on top of all the little details. Some of this comes from the fact I am still managing a full time day job, was going through a divorce, and was also building the foundations for other business opportunities. Being unorganized caused too many things to sneak up on me that made us less productive and less profitable.
This year I am organizing my files and will hand over some of the details to someone else. Many start ups are too small to afford an assistant but struggle with the time to manage everything. Focus on the areas you are good at (for me it’s marketing and communication) and delegate some of the other areas (for me that would be finance and payroll).
We are a winery
While our space looks/feels like a wine bar, we are actually a winery; FIVE of them in one space. One struggle this year has been marketing one of our biggest strengths. Visitors get to experience FIVE Washington wineries and over 40+ wines in one location. We focus on wine education, showcase unique varietals, and also have the space to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine. A focus this year will be getting the word out about the wineries in the spot and hosting more and more Saturday / Sunday afternoon wine tasting traffic.
During our anniversary weekend I was asked over and over, “Did the first year meet your expectations?” That is a difficult question because I have VERY high expectations. Did we meet sales projections? Not quite, but that was mostly due to an unexpectedly slow summer. Did we make money (which is the key question)? Yes, but not enough to quit my day job. I AM very proud of what we accomplished in year one and Spokane residents must agree because we were voted by Inland Business Catalyst Magazine as the “Best Business Start Up” for the year. Below are the key contributors to our success and I encourage any start up to place your focus here.
Over and over again relationship marketing through Facebook and Twitter proved to be the best drivers of traffic. The relationships built through social networks extended beyond the internet into face to face with so many significant partnerships. Success stories include visitors from San Francisco, Washington DC and even Australia who started following my blog through Twitter. Each of these people spent money at Nectar. We also exclusively marketed many events just through our social networks and email list (now over 1000 strong). Many of these events were sold out or packed including the Spokane Wine Magazine release party (close to 100 people), New Year’s Eve event, and our Wine and Dine dinners. Staying completely social, we hosted over 40 people for a tweetup in December. The largest gathering so far for this type of event in Spokane.
A side note to this online marketing is the success of sites like Groupon and Deal Planet. We ran three deals in 2011 and have seen so much positive response. When using these deal sites, there are several important things to consider. Check out my post “Five Tips for Thriving with Groupon”
Membership has its privileges
I love my members. They are the biggest ambassadors and supporters we have. Now over 300 strong, our club membership is the most consistent driver of bottle sales and event tickets. Many of our members make visiting Nectar a regular routine of their weekly schedule. We will continue to look for ways to add value for our club members to reward them for their loyalty. If you’re not a member, check out our two wine clubs (Club Nectar and Quarterly Sip). You can even join online.
It is important to give back to the community in which you do business. Spokane has given Nectar their support and we eagerly jump on opportunities to support charity events and non-profit organizations. We were proud to offer discounted or free event rental services to the following non-profits this year; National Association of Business Women, Green Drinks, Spokane Symphony, American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest, Project Beauty Share, Make a Wish Foundation, and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Collectively these organizations raised over $10,000 at their events and Nectar was proud to donate over $1000 in 2011.
Key areas of focus for 2012
I recently completed a S.W.O.T. (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) analysis for Nectar. Below are the key areas of focus that you will see to make 2012 even better than 2011. The foundations have been set, now it’s time to launch into the stratosphere of success!
- Menu partnership with 4-5 restaurants that surround Nectar. Offering a greater food option to our guests.
- Introduce a small amount of retail product as the year progresses
- Consistent calendar of events (dinner, wine classes, and new events)
- Greater partnership with local non-profits and charities
- Brand merchandise – soon you’ll be able to wear your Nectar loyalty
- Event coordinator and space rental – We have one of the most beautiful spaces in the heart of downtown Spokane. Our goal is to have the space rented 6-10 times per month for groups of 20-100. Check out our EVENT PAGE for details.
- More consistent blogging. Yep – it drives traffic. Google search is a key driver of business.
I am not a cook. In fact, as a busy bachelor, I rarely find time to make myself anything to eat at all. My cooking repertoire consists of great French Toast (and if you’re eating those, then we have come a long way in our friendship), fajitas, anything on the barbeque, and a spicy spaghetti recipe that I picked up somewhere in the journey of life. Being considered for cookbook was the last thing I expected.
Signature Tastes of Spokane brings together over 100 favorite recipes from our local kitchen and includes great recipes from chefs at Ambrosia Bistro, C.I. Shenanigans, Hay J’s Bistro, Masselow’s, Steam Plant, Twigs, and Wild Sage…then, there’s me and my spicy spaghetti.
Pick up a copy of Signature Tastes of Spokane at Aunties Bookstore or Barnes and Noble
(by Steven W. Siler and Nicole L. Manganaro)
Hope you enjoy!
- 1 (24oz) jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce – This varies for me. I’ll often use garden style when I know I’m in a hurry and won’t have the time to slice and dice a lot of ingredients.
- 1 (6oz) can of tomato paste – This will thicken up the sauce a bit
- 1(15oz) can of Hunts diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 Jalapeño pepper, diced (you may want to start with just 1/2 to see how spicy the dish is)
- 3-4 cloves of diced garlic
- 1/2 onion diced
- Fresh Oregano (add to desired taste)
- Fresh Basil (add to desired taste)
- 1lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 lb of Italian sausage (optional)
- Pasta noodles of choosing
In a large pan brown the ground beef and Italian sausage over medium heat stirring frequently. Add some fresh chopped oregano, fresh chopped basil, and a dash of garlic salt to taste. Drain the excess grease for a more healthy dish
In a large sauce pot add the jar of spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes w/ green chilies, jalapeño, garlic, onion and spices. Bring to a slow rolling boil, then add the meat.
Boil noodles for approximately 10 minutes with a little olive oil (tablespoon), drain and serve.
I enjoy this dish with some fresh garlic bread and a simple green salad with a balsamic dressing. Since the spaghetti and balsamic are both fairly acidic, a great wine pairing is Barbera, Primitivo, or a nice Sangiovese. Stop by Nectar Tasting Room, we’ve got some of each.
About Josh Wade
Josh is the owner of Nectar Tasting Room, a modern wine tasting space shared by five Washington wineries in downtown Spokane (120 N. Stevens). Josh also publishes Spokane Wine Magazine and has a consulting company that helps businesses navigate the waters of social media and relationship marketing. Nectar Tasting Room was recently selected by the readers of Inland Business Catalyst Magazine as the top start up of 2011. Readers also selected Josh as one of the 20 under 40 business people in Spokane. Josh’s web site is one of the most read wine blogs in the country and was recently highlighted on MSNBC.com In his spare time, Josh is the wine consulting co-host of HFNTV’s In the Kitchen with Mike Gonzalez and also enjoys playing guitar and just hanging out with friends.