Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 is not over yet!

Tonight we give toast to 2014 and ring in the New Year. But, we still have plenty planned for what 2014 brought us. Our 2014 bottling schedule is set, 2014 vintage release dates are set, sales forecasts and marketing plans are all in motion and being posted to the new calendar as we steadily move forward into 2015.  

We cannot thank you enough for your encouragement, support and inspiring enthusiasm for Smith Story Wine Cellars in 2014 - we did it!

Humbled, proud, exhausted, happy, thrilled, scared, many emotions can describe our first year and the "Birth of a Winery".  Reading back through all the blog posts makes us both a bit teary-eyed with joy.

All that's left is for you to taste our wines and start all over again in 2015...Harvest is already on the horizon (plenty of vineyard walks and spreadsheets in the not so distant future!). 

With love and kindness, we wish you all a very Happy New Year!

This is Our Story.

Eric & Ali

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lodging in the Napa Valley

Well since we don't have wine in bottle for sale yet, we are certainly recommending "all good things" when asked specific questions.  We're often asked where to book a hotel room in the wine country.  Honestly, this could get tricky as the rates fluctuate during the year due to seasonal events and harvest time of course. In the Healdsburg area, Farmhouse Inn and the H2 are among our favorites to suggest. 

Ali was recently interviewed by writer Jessica Dupuy for regarding Napa...

“I love to send folks to Milliken Creek Inn. I know it’s the best of all things luxurious with beautiful gardens and outdoor design. Being a Texan, I know it’s fun to stay where we can enjoy the fantastic California cool mornings and evenings while meeting others.”
— Alison Smith Story, Smith Story Wine Cellars

Yes - it's so hard to select one hotel in Napa, but feel we chose well and the Milliken Creek Inn is a perfect place for those wanting to get away from it all or feeling close to downtown Napa where so many great stores, wine bars, and restaurants await your company.

More on Smith Story Wine Cellars happenings coming up soon...oh our brains are bursting and hearts are melting with excitement! 

This is Our Story. 

 - Eric & Ali

Monday, December 8, 2014

Remaining Faithful

We did it. We started a winery. We made wine. We made really good wine. We think, we hope, no -  we believe! We're emotional as hell! We want to tell everyone!

And we are so very thankful to our Smith Story Wine Cellars Inner Circle...

Our winemakers Katy and Ross - so grateful for their support, expertise, their endless hours of insight and advice and most of all for their devotion to making fine wine for us.

Our "garagiste" custom crush partner, Vinify Wine Services. Wow, we never encountered anything during crush but "hustle" at Vinify and loads of cooperation. It was like an anthill of super focused wine artisans waltzing around 24/7 for weeks straight.

Our vineyard managers, grape growers and families that kept watch over our precious grapes, from the Southern Sonoma Coast, the highest peaks of Sonoma Mountain, the far West of the West Sonoma Coast, the heart of the Russian River, the depths of Knights Valley and all the way up to our beloved Anderson Valley.  We are so thankful for each person, each vine, each row, each picking crew who helped bring in the highest quality grapes we could afford this year.

Our biggest thanks goes to all of our family, friends, Kickstarter Backers and folks working "behind the scenes" to keep us going. Your encouragement, connections, support and enthusiasm on a daily basis was (and is) so awesome...which also brought us to meeting our new investor, who's been our most wonderful unexpected happening this year.  We are honored, grateful and thrilled to have our first year of business come together so effortlessly.

Hard work and remaining faithful to the process and keeping the faith that a higher power is watching over us feels unbelievable. Now we wait patiently for our Harvest 2014 babies to do their thing in the cellar.  The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc will be our first release next spring.

With Much Love and Tears of Joy - Happy Holidays Everyone!

This is Our Story.

 - Ali & Eric

Friday, November 7, 2014

Our first Garagiste tasting happened!

Whew, it's been an intense few weeks! We've conquered new business planning and have powered through big-time meetings and financial spreadsheets with all our might - oh and along with huge OND (October November December) K&L and TexaCali Wine priorities.  So a chance to meet our #16 Kickstarter Backer this week was a very welcomed interruption.

Rodd Shedd, the owner of Vine to Wine Concierge in Vermont arrived last Tuesday morning with a huge smile on his face and a delicious gift of Vermont Maple Syrup for us.  How sweet!  It was a quicker meeting than we normally would have scheduled since we were both buried with our day-jobs, however, Ali jumped on the opportunity to meet with Ron and personally thank him for his support.

Rodd was the first person we've taken through our "Garagiste" winery in Santa Rosa.  It's a tough time to taste right now since all the wines are still developing in barrel and tank ( I mean they still have half their life ahead!), but at the very minimum the nose and flavor profiles come through - if they are this good now, we can't wait to taste the finished wines in bottle next year.

Our Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc was our first of 2 tastings of the morning.  Our Co-winemaker Katy so kindly helped pour a little out of our large 2100 gallon tank...we are scared of opening the nozzle/tap thingy. ha.  Right away the aroma pulled me into this pretty white wine.

So far we find our Sauvignon Blanc to be beautiful mix of minerality backed up by bright citrus notes of clementines and tangy lemons, with a little hint of stone fruit characters like ripe apricots and white peaches. Ohhhhh this is going to be our first release, one we are so very proud of, now we patiently wait for bottling time to arrive.

After walking Rodd through the cavernous barrel rooms and crush pad, we pulled a barrel sample of the Helluva Vineyard Pinot Noir to taste. Oh this wine is already tugging at our heartstrings.  We can't even begin to create tasting notes on it right now, it screams Anderson Valley Pinot Noir already, but wow the sensory layers are abundant!  The Helluva Pinot Noir will be our first red wine release next fall...not soon enough.

We are so grateful for Rodd's enthusiasm and for his early support, we are so very glad he stopped by to see us during his visit to California Wine Country.   Please don't hesitate to ever reach out to us at directly to taste with us and meet in person too. 

Oh - we've had French Toast for breakfast all week Rodd!  Thank you again for the delicious Maple Syrup for your home state Vermont...

This is Our Story -

Eric & Ali

PS: Please sign up on our mailing list to receive allocations for Smith Story Wine Cellars.

Friday, October 31, 2014

We Bet the Farm

Oh yes we did, well, we bet our life-savings & on our ability to create world-class wine.  We'd like to have a farm of sorts in a few years though!  Since announcing Smith Story Wine Cellars to the world on May 14, 2014 we've already moved mountains it seems. Just under 1500 cases of wine was crushed this harvest season while managing full responsibilities of our day jobs.

Letter sent to Ali from the Buyer of the Austin House!
It's been a whirlwind this past year with Ali's travel schedule to visit markets for her TexaCali Wine Co. clients,  Eric's responsibility at K&L - including his European travel all while launching a new winery simultaneously.  We also managed to sell our home in Austin, Texas, raise $26,001 in 30 days on a  Kickstarter Campaign and finalize a partnership with a dynamic and supportive Angel Investor for Smith Story Wine Cellars. It's all coming together!

But back to "we bet the farm"... many of our friends in the business have used this phrase when talking to us about our first harvest and the winery.  Betting our lives away seriously drives our desire to achieve success as a couple producing wine.  We get this, we got this, are heads are down crossing every T and dotting every i along the way, if there is such a thing in this business of wine.

So what's next?  

As the wines are aging and resting in tank and barrels in Santa Rosa now, we are busy behind the scenes.  Accounting systems, banker meetings, compliance needs...a ton of items that sound like a bore but are super important to the foundation of the winery. Many folks are awaiting our wines to release already, so we are first and foremost working on our eCommerce engine and Wholesale permits in a handful of states.  Another priority is bottle selection and label approvals...our bottling date is set already for the 3rd week of January for our Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Oh these wines are tasting delicious.  WE CAN NOT HARDLY WAIT!

Also, exciting news to share with you soon about our wine club offering and allocations.  A few fun surprise bottlings we hope you are going to LOVE.

So thank you for signing up on our mailing list, our go-to supporters from the very beginning, we hear and feel your support and enthusiasm each and every day. A fun place to follow us online besides our website, twitter and Facebook is where we enjoy getting to know our fans on a daily basis.  Please don't hesitate to reach out if traveling through the RRV wine country, we would love to meet you and taste some of our wines with you too.

This is Our Story.

 - Eric & Ali

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's all over...

Harvest 2014 is in the barrel & tank that is!

So - here it is folks, we envisioned, created, produced and now patiently await for our wines to properly ferment and age in preparation for bottling and release. Both Eric and I can't think of a busier time in our lives and more exciting time too.  We crushed our last few tons of fruit - Sémillon from the Sonoma Mountain AVA 2 weeks ago (pictured here in action at the winery).

Thank you all for your unsolicited support and enthusiasm for our new wines. It's been great fun to see our mailing list members grow each day, a small thing that is the most important to us!

We have so much to say and share with you all in the coming weeks, big news and interesting news we hope.   In the meantime, we're off to cheer on the San Francisco Giants in Game 2 tonight - over a few bottles of very cold wine - it's 100 degrees today in the Bay Area.  Tomorrow we're off to select bottles and capsules for our Sauvignon Blanc, everyday is full of new beginnings & big decisions. 

This is Our Story,

Ali & Eric.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A little piece of peace.

Today we awake to sounds down the hill of kids playing soccer and church bell chimes from The Mission in San Rafael.  It's crazy to think that our first Smith Story Wine Cellars harvest is coming to a close already.  Tonight we pick our last 2 tons of Pinot Noir and we're still waiting on 4 tons of Sémillon to ripen way up on top of the Sonoma Mountain AVA.

The past 2 weeks have been INCREDIBLE.  Thank you and to each and everyone of our Backers who supported us on, we reached our goal of $25,000 on Labor Day.  This is going to pay a nice chunk towards our grape-grower contracts!  We were able to update the last few weeks with numerous photos here: 

We gained so much more than the Kickstarter amount, tons of new mailing list sign-ups and record breaking web traffic hits will help us to continue telling Our Story to the world. THANK YOU.  Next...we are looking forward to finalizing smart financial partnerships to help with the enormous costs of our first year.

To be very honest, as fascinating and thrilling as the past few weeks have been for us, it's also been an uber stressful time for us.  Why?  We want the success of Smith Story Wine Cellers to happen more than ever before.  It's all consuming. Thoughts of how the wines are going to taste, how we are going to sell them, who's going to write about them, how much do we want to produce next year...our thoughts are near manic. Thankfully, we have our day jobs to keep it all in check and mindfully put the brakes on the anxiety of building a business.

We have so much more to say, to update you about, to involve you with, but we are taking a few hours off this morning to enjoy a little piece of peace. Thanks for following...

This is Our Story,

Eric & Ali

*Our wine releases will be allocated, please be sure you are on our mailing list

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stop and Smell the Dream

Greetings from my secret dock on Lake Austin today - with big lump in my throat and misty eyes. Why? I sold my house yesterday, which feels bittersweet at the moment.  The house itself was nothing that special, constructed in 2008 in one of Austin's many "gentrified" neighborhoods.  However, buying a home on my own was very special and a dream come true for me. Many years of running my own business and hard work finally paid off in 2008.  I bought my first house with 100% commissions earned from selling fine wine in Texas.  But as I sit here under the shade of this boat dock and watch families BBQ and boats zip around on the lake I can't help put ponder what is the real meaning of the word DREAM.

Dream: Something that you have wanted very much to do, be, or have for a long time says the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 

While attempting to take some over-due deep breaths in Austin this weekend, I find my head racing from all the creativity and drive this city filled both by heart and mind with over the years.  Dreams do come true, certainly not the way the fairytale books make dreams out to be, in my case, dreams have come true with my desire to live a life of happiness and work in a industry that is dreamy.

Selling my Austin home is allowing Smith Story Wine Cellars to enter our first harvest with a few more levels of financial security. All those hundreds of cases of Japanese Sake, California, Burgundy, Spanish and Argentine fine wines I sold are now fueling the ultimate dream!  We are the new proud owners of 30 wine barrels, bungs, racks and soon to be grapes from our favorite AVA's of Northern California. Within the next 30 days, we'll have our first fermenting babies!  I'll never forget a conversation that happened years ago while sitting on the foggy back porch of the Handley Cellars ranch house with Eric..."wouldn't it be cool to live up here with our dogs one day...", it was that very moment that our dream began, and we began to follow it.

There's an interesting (and inspirational) article this week by Virginie Boone in the Press Democrat about the American Wine Story film featuring a few wineries and couples in the business. Giving it All Up to Make Wine Dream Come True, “Don’t listen to other people,” says Mike Officer of Carlisle Winery in Santa Rosa during the film, about becoming a winemaker. “Follow your heart and do it and just keep at it. I’m fortunate to do what I love every day.”

Honestly, nobody has told us not to do this, everyone has said "you guys got this - go for it, Smith Story Wine Cellars is going to be a adored by many". Awesome. Eric and I are both so fortunate that we have been living the dream, and we are doing what we love everyday - this is a dream come true indeed. 

This is Our Story.

Ali (& Eric)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Let's Play Ball!!!!!!!!

"Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do" from the baseball great Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige.  This quote's been hanging on the top of Ali's TexaCali Wine Trail blog for over 900 posts and I'm taking it today for our blog subject.

In the spirit of Satchel and the great game of baseball, this sport holds a lot of meaning and memories between the two of us.  We both played the game, I grew up going to the San Francisco Giants games with my Dad and my buddies and Ali did the same, even working for the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics broadcasting departments pre-wine career.  And it was that electric 2010 World Series between the Texas Rangers and the SF Giants that sealed the friendship and love between us for life.  And now we route for both teams!

Ali and I are consumed by nervous energy as we are days away from picking our first vineyard for our first harvest.  Much like it feels before a game starts, just after the National Anthem is over and as you start taking a few swings in the batters box. Starting a winery is weirdly similar to being a part of a great baseball game.  You've earned your spot on the team and now everyone is out there watching you do your thing!

Picture this - an imaginary game where both teams win: We've got our outfield (the vineyard farmers) all set,  Mother Nature's on the pitching mound, just waiting to throw our entire lineup Home Runs! Katy, Ross, Ali, the Cellar Crew, our grape pickers and I are all in the batter's box...nervously waiting for Mother Nature's signal to PLAY BALL!

Here we are, days before Smith Story Wine Cellars becomes very very real.  So as we patiently wait for the biggest game of our life to begin...

Thank you for being our fan, your Kickstarter (see blog post below) support is awesome. We've seen a major increase in our mailing list sign-ups via our website and have raised a few thousand dollars so far to use towards our vineyard contracts with our family farmers.  But we are far from our goal of $25,000 by September 1, 2014.

This is crucial and important: Please continue to spread the link and donate if you can - we have less than 18 days left and every donation counts.

This is Our Story.

Eric (& Ali)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Kick Me Please

One of the silliest things Eric and I have in common, is our love of pranking.  We love to prank, love watching pranks and laughing hysterically once a prank is executed successfully.

One of the earliest memories of pranking as a child was when I stuck the old "Kick Me" paper on the back of an arrogant little boy.  After carefully sticking this sign on the backside of his shirt I became the hero of Mrs. Hillhouse's 3rd Grade class. We all rolled in our desks with laughter when a few swift kicks to his overly confident tookus happened a when he bolted up first to get in line for recess.  I loved making everyone laugh (wouldn't have pranked a nice guy!) and I'm sure it set the pace for a lifetime of pranks and practical jokes (oh how I love to go biscuiting!).

So what's this got to do with Smith Story Wine Cellars?  During the month of August, we are asking for a swift kick too - on Kickstarter that is! We want to pay our dear farmers (Grape Growers) first this harvest and feel it's important to highlight them, as they are the most important partner to keep happy.  Please help us spread the word and donate if you can (little amounts do add up!). is a Crowdfunding site that has helped thousands of creative ideas take off with nice financial start!  We've put together some interesting and fun rewards for those who donate too.  For a minimum of $5 bucks, we'll send you a personal photo postcard with a pic we shot of one of the Smith Story vineyards... then donation levels all the way up to $3400. A $3400+ "Backer" has a chance to help us name a barrel of wine and have their name and or company listed on the back label of the bottle along with a handful of other really cool rewards for this generous donations. If we don't reach our overall goal of $25,000 - we get NADA, NOTHING, ZILCH.

29 days to go - time's a ticking, please send the link above to a few dozen wine-loving folks you know this week.  This is a SERIOUS Kick for us! Thank you always for your support, we are just getting started...harvest is only a few days away.

This is Our Story,

Ali (and Eric)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

We are not sleeping.

Harvest is upon's go time for all of our planning and financial pieces to come together.  Next time you are awake in the middle of the night, know you are not alone! You're welcome.

This is Our Story -

Eric & Ali

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gearing up for Harvest 2014

...we've secured our vineyards (well still could use some budget friendly Pinot Meunier), fallen in love even more with our winemakers Katy & Ross, locked down our crush needs with Vinify, now comes the hardest part -  waiting for the grapes to ripen.

It's cooled off over the past few weeks after a warm Spring, so some say the grapes will be early, some say they'll be picked right about the same time as the past two years...which is OK for those not juggling full-time jobs elsewhere - we are anxious! Both of us hope to be in California (and can take the early morning off) to help with the pick and crush at the winery.  After all this wait, Dear God we hope we don't miss a thing! 

Here's a peek at our Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon Vines on top of the Sonoma Mountain AVA - about 24 hours ago. We are very pleased with the vineyard and are so excited to make our first Smith Story Wine Cellars wine from this beautiful spot in Sonoma County!  
Our love for Sauvignon Blanc started with France, particularly the region of Sancerre, France in the Loire Valley.  I'm sure we've bugged our winemakers to death about crush and cellar details that come with our rather large expectations of producing world-class Sauvignon Blanc.

We can hardly sleep through the night thinking about it all! 

This is Our Story,

Ali (and Eric)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Wine Business is Dangerous

Adventures with winemakers Katy & Ross...

Picture 4 of us in a brand new Subaru 4WD wagon with about an half of inch of vineyard dirt on the back window, speeding down a cliff-side gravel road after accidentally driving down a dead-end road - right into a marijuana grove.

So just about the time we thought about slowing down to take-in the breathtaking views and pop a bottle of Eric Bordelet Pear Cider, a large angry looking man draped in a scarf and mirrored sunglasses on a large ATV appeared right on our tail. I turned around to look and quickly yelled out S%#!  I'm talking straight outta 60 Minutes folks. Now I know why Ross travels around with TP in his car.  The weed-farm scary guy must have had a good head-shake and chuckle watching us sip on our iced-Americanos inside the Subaru as he peeled away & turned back.  Wine people!

Lesson learned kiddies: Stop and turn around the minute you notice a sawed-off tree with a bow & arrow attached when you are in the middle of thick forest land! 

Anyhoo...beyond this slight-heart attack, the day was full of beauty in the Anderson Valley.  We made a stop by Handley Cellars to say hello to the dear Milla Handley and taste her current releases then spent the rest of the day visiting with vineyard managers and kicking rocks.  We also drove past Nash Mill Vineyard and gave it a big high-five too, Nash Mill Vineyard was original the vineyard that Eric and I spent some time in while he and his pal Jeff planted riesling about 10 years ago. Those were the days...

Thrilled to have a small footprint from the Anderson Valley AVA in our 2014 inaugural offering of Smith Story Wine Cellars! 

This is Our Story.

 - Ali

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Better Together

Our dreams are made out of real things...

14 days of travel through Austria, Alsace (well for 15 minutes to taste the worlds best croissant) and now Germany -  at least a thousand songs have blasted in the rental car as we've rolled along.  Jack Johnson's "Better Together" is the theme song of this amazing trip!

We've always known we could get along just about anywhere, but now that we've been challenged with very little sleep, foreign languages and being on the move near 18 hours each day, we are thankful to have each others company.  Today is the first day I've taken off to catch up on a little work and write while Eric is visiting a few wine producers from the Mosel in Germany.

Eric's wine career began over 15 years ago when he began working part-time for K&L Wine Merchants to earn some cash for a backpacking trip to Europe. Towards the end of his trip, he sent an email to K&L and asked for a full-time job with them in Redwood City upon his return, the wine bug had bitten.  I have to brag a bit here, he's been such a Rockstar over here among wine producers and importers. I'm so proud of the way he's conducted himself with a great mix of integrity for the business and passion for the winemakers, his work ethic and enthusiasm has made a difference to so many producers over the years.  We haven't met a single one who hasn't greeted us with a big smile and warm-hearted welcome. 

A gazillion highlights to record and chat about, but the one thing that has happened at nearly each stop is seeing husband and wife teams working hard together.  Whether they've sat with us in their living room and tasted with us over a home-cooked meal, or met us in the vineyards with their kids & dogs playing around our feet, their presence has been so inspiring to us.  Their dreams are also real things they've made come true.  We hope to so the same with Smith Story Wine Cellars one day soon too!

Our dreams, and they are made out of real things
Like a, shoebox of photographs
With sepia-toned loving
Love is the answer,
At least for most of the questions in my heart
Like why are we here? And where do we go?
And how come it's so hard?
It's not always easy and
Sometimes life can be deceiving
I'll tell you one thing, it's always better when we're together

Mmm, it's always better when we're together
Yeah, we'll look at the stars when we're together
Well, it's always better when we're together
Yeah, it's always better when we're together

  - Jack Johnsons "Better Together," from the album In Between Dreams (2005).

 It's always better when we're together.

This is Our Story.  - Ali

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Greetings from Vienna!

Nussburg & the city of Vienna
Need to make this brief, as we are on a tight schedule this week...Eric and I are attending the Vie Vinum International Wine Festival, over 500 wineries from all over the world showcasing their best wines.  It's the first time we've traveled together on business and we are having such a fun time seeing friends in the wine business here in Vienna with us.  It's about as close to Heaven on Earth work-wise as things get, the people, the wines, the food the history here...oh I could go on for days!

It's awesome to see Eric do his thing as the top Austrian wine buyer in California, it's a bit like having my own personal rockstar around here! Eric has such passion for the wines he is responsible for buying and promoting at K&L.

As for me, running TexaCali Wine Co. nationally and now internationally is thrilling, among our friends here are the top wine writers, importers, exporters, US distributors, inspiring wine buyers from the US and from all over the world.  Many of my top key accounts across America are in attendance, so needless to say it's been a blast to talk shop with this change of venue.  I'm grateful for my partnership with Winemonger Imports as this has certainly strengthened relationships and opened new doors these first few days of travel. 

It's also been great fun to hear all the excitement for Smith Story Wine Cellars from everyone! Soo cool. We've had a few "pinch me moments" in this short time, amazing how small our circle is within the wine business worldwide and the enthusiasm showered over us!  More from Austria later this week. Thank you for following our journey, we are so pumped to create this new chapter in our lives!

 This is Our Story. 



Saturday, June 7, 2014

Maya Angelou loved to party!

The Maya Angelou memorial service is televised this morning, the mood is mildly somber and incredibly joyful  - "Maya Angelou loved to party", this quote made the crowd join together in laughter.  There is much to learn about Maya and learn from as well... “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style" -  the beloved Maya Angelou.

This quote from Maya Angelou is timely and timeless...especially relevant to our mission statement and reasons why we've begun Smith Story Wine Cellars...

Smith Story Wines are made with respect for the land, kindness for the grower and love from the winemaker.  The wines show restraint, balance and integrity of the grape.  Our winemaking philosophy is to utilize classic, old world techniques and let the grapes and sense of place where they are grown both speak for themselves.   Our vineyards and growers are among the precious AVA’s of Northern California.

Passion for Smith Story Wine Cellars is keeping us up in the middle of the night! No, not with worry, but excitement about doing things well and how much we love this opportunity that our hard work over the years has created.

Compassion keeps us in check! Sustainability & fairness is our #1 desire in business dealings with our vineyard families, vendors, cellar team and our future buyers and wholesale partners.  In all conversations, dealings and plans - we remind ourselves to listen with compassion and understand needs from all sides upon making final decisions.  Compassion also extends to the precious vines...we are so very proud to know that each of our vineyards are watched over with great depth and vigor.

Humor - to know us is to laugh with us!  We're that couple that could find joy and laughter together in just about any situation.  Life is serious, we certainly are about building and running Smith Story Wine Cellars, but hey, let's all have a great time along the way! There's no room on our spreadsheets for anyone lacking humor. 

Style - whether it's the way we run the business modus operandi or the appearance we bring in person, on the label and create on the website, we hope our style exudes 1) unconditional love  2) razor sharp focus  3) really nice shoes.  Eric owns more pairs of swanky shoes than Ali by the way...

Each of these elements are allowing us to survive and hopefully thrive for many many years to come. Thank you Maya for summing this up so effortlessly for the two of us and for the world. 

This is Our Story. 

 - Eric and Ali

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Want to Watch the Birth of a Winery?

The best tweet yet came across my iPhone yesterday  "  Want to watch the birth of a winery follow . Drink what you love, love what you drink. #texacaliali"
Since announcing Smith Story Wine Cellars to the world exactly 14 days ago, the response, support and enthusiasm has been such a confirmation that we are on the road to living our ultimate dreams in this business of wine.  Giving birth to a winery - wow - this is our reality. Please read our first post if you've skipped over May 14...

This week I was asked by a banker  "based on your experience in this business, what's the number one mistake that wineries have made over the years in terms of sales and growth?".  Without any hesitation,  I told the banker "the lack of Best Practices put in place from the beginning. This coupled with not listening and/or empowering employees who bring real wine business experience to a team."

This business is like no other, just because you've become wealthy doing something else in the world, does not mean you have any chance of being successful in the wine business.  Yeah, those folks who start with a small fortune or big one most certainly think that they'll make it because they can buy things, chances are pretty darn good for a winery like us who's making certain every dime spent is for the right thing, every phone call is good business, each relationship is bound by integrity and egos remain outside our Best Practices.   The wine business is built on relationships, nobody wants to deal with assholes, nobody wants to deal with needy high maintenance emotional winery owners, nobody wants to deal with a disorganized business - period.

The banker quickly replied, "Indeed, you are only as good as your weakest planning, worst employee, worst client, worst vendor, I ask my winery clients often about their Best Practices. Many of the wealthy families I help made their millions by having A-team players surrounding them and holding court, once they step off into their new wine business frontier they often chase the romance and ignore (because of egos) what highly experienced & knowledgeable industry professionals bring to the table for them, often mismanaging these folks thus running in circles like a dog chasing their tail".

Watching a dog chase it's tail is always a good laugh, but "what an idiot" always comes to mind too. Both Eric and I know what our strengths are, we are happily & mindfully relying on others who bring killer talents to our team that we lack.  I say this often, we are all in this together, and I'm going to say it forever.  The birth of a winery...

This is Our Story. 

 - Ali

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

And so it begins...Start-up Mode.

In all honesty, we are scared to death during these beginning months of building the foundation for Smith Story Wine Cellars.  Besides our years in the wine business, both Eric and I have been working full-time before we were old enough to legally drive - so we know our work ethic and drive at the very least will make this happen. What we are scared to death about the most is:
  1. Keeping our first years of marriage stress-free 
  2. Fees and business areas that are foreign to us while in start-up mode 
  3. Taking on investors
One: Smith Story Wine Cellars is sorta like our newborn, this little bundle comes complete with feelings of joy and sleep deprivation from worry. Well, thank goodness we have plenty of wine to help relax us and a million-dollar view from our rental home in San Rafael as we will be taking staycations for a long while.  So #1 we aren't too worried about. Plus Lord Sandwich (our giant Goldendoodle provides us with hourly laughs).  And we love each other so much it may sicken others.

Two: As for getting into the real art of understanding new business licenses, to LLC or to INC, setting up bank accounts, reporting taxes  (um yeah, we won't be selling anything for awhile), paying experts to help us swim through all this with either wine trade, dog sitting, baked goods /BBQ ribs, wine sales or hard cash is also part of the plan.  Holy %#!@ this is hard, confusing, and crazy stressful part of starting a new business.  We just want to do it right from the beginning.  Breath, just breath. I also find my self praying a little more each week, God give us strength and the insight to make right decisions each day. Seriously. Don't sweat the small stuff.  I repeat.

It's truly when Eric and I are in the vineyards, talking to our winemaking team, tasting wines that excite us is what exactly keeps us filled with courage and pressing on to make this happen and become sustainable. We are determined.

Three: We are not starting with a small fortune, we are starting with our sleeves rolled up ready to rock this business plan. Neither one of us come from money or cashed out from Silicon Valley lucky-cards and we've hardly borrowed a dime before.  We've worked for everything we have, memories and material things alike.  A handful of folks have reached out in asking how they can invest (seems that Eric & I are a live-and-in-person solid business plan together).

All that we know is that investors are crucial for us in the first few years of building.  We are listening with great intent and are overwhelmed by the amount of support and generosity that MAY happen.  Making an investment in Smith Story Wine Cellars is long-term and according to our massive forecasts will be a safe place (unless Acts of God happen) for our investors - plus they'll have plenty of great wine along the way.

This scary new frontier will soon pass, the vines are already singing for an incredible 2014 Harvest ahead and by this time next year with all our might & hope  -  our first wine offerings will be released and sold-out.   There's a reason the words "Start-up Mode" is a part of the new business process and I can not wait to look back and smile at all that we've accomplished on day... sooner than later!

This is Our Story. 

 - Ali

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Introduction

Oh here we go, onto a new chapter for Eric & I as we've reached our 1 year wedding anniversary.  Today marks the official debut of  Smith Story Wine Cellars - giving birth of sorts to our newest little bundle of joy!  

Best to answer the top questions of the day:  

Yes - we are still 100% working our regular jobs (K&L Wine Merchants & TexaCali Wine Co.) and are grateful for your continued enthusiasm of our wine regions and winery clients we support so diligently.  To quote the pioneering Philip Togni we are not starting "with a small fortune". We are working like mad to make this next Chapter in our lives come together and prosper.

NO - we are not producing Riesling from California, we feel it's best to leave that up to our pals over in Germany. 

Many elements of our beginnings are written on the website, but I must be honest here and tell the world that for over a decade, the vision of walking through a vineyard in the Anderson Valley hand-in-hand with Eric Story along with our loyal dogs has stuck with me each and every day.  

The winery name was spontaneously created while sitting & sipping rum on the stunning Mauna Kea beach on the Big Island of Hawaii ... where we tied-the-knot 12 months ago in the hills of Holualoa.  Eric and I both paused after hearing Smith Story Wine Cellars. Though not sure who blurted it out first, we thought the name had a nice ring, and man could our stories go far and wide with all that we've worked so hard to accomplish in the wine business over the past decade.

So I ask you to follow Our Chapters, become involved with Our Story and please support our new small family business.  The best way to do so now is to sign up for our mailing list.

Yeah yeah, we are following our dreams and all that, but it's our biggest wish to create a sustainable winery that can support not only the 2 of us, but all the vineyard growers we partner with, our wonderful winemaking team and everyone else involved with the entire supply chain of making and selling fine wines from California.

A number can't possibly be guessed on the many wine producers that have inspired us in our lifetime.  Eric and I are so very humbled and honored to start this new chapter in our lives. 

This is Our Story,