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)