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Transcript: EP 3: Stories From the Road

- [Male Voice] In the wine business system, the wine is represented by two separate yet equally important groups, the wine makers and the wine sellers. These are their stories.

- Hey, welcome to Cellar Rats into Seller Rats. I'm Jessie Inman and this is the third episode.

- And I'm A-A-Ron.

- Today we're gonna tell you a couple of stories from the road.

- We've been in the industry, the wine industry, that is for about 14 years. From making wine to selling wine, we've accumulated some pretty crazy stories about our hustling and production. So today we're going to drink some good wine and tell you guys about some of the craziness that comes with owning your own winery.

- I've made wine in multiple different places, so I run across a lot of different winemakers, a lot of different wineries, a lot of different sellers and so this is a wine that I traded a buddy of mine that I work with. This is 2014 Pinot Noir standard vineyard. It's Sonoma mountain in Sonoma County. And I think it's normally a whole cluster. I think it is 100% whole cluster which you don't destem the berries, you leave them hung on the clusters and you get a little more spicy and I think he does, each time he does a wine he does a specific label for that wine.

- A one and done?

- A one and done kind of thing. I've never had this vintage, but the other ones have been really nice.

- You know, I probably am on film somewhere talking about somebody using the word grapy on a wine but this actually has a grapy kind of grape nerds type fruit to it. It's very fruit forward.

- I think it's evened out by the whole cluster. It's a little bit more herbal, a little bit more spicy because of that, but not on the top. Its very nice.

- You get the fruit and then--

- It's also got some good grip. So one of the winery, I think it was maybe, it actually might be, this is 2014, it might be 2015 or 16.

- At least they can blend together.

- Really after 14 years they all run together. I'm walking through the white wine bell room in a and I hear, "Oh, God pleas help me." And I'm like, "Oh, some poor shmug." That's never a good sound in the winery.

- So I got my cape. So I got my cape and I painted my eyes. and I run over, and I'm like I better help and I see this intern, and she's got her hand over where a valve which like kind of turns on and off the tank so wine can come out, she's got her hand over the top, and there's no valves. Must have messed them up. She's crying. There's wine squirting out over, she's soaking wet. She just keep screaming, "Help me! Help me! Help me!" and I'm like, "I don't really know what to do, "this is a new situation for me." So I grab a guy with the forklift and we go underneath the tank and we tilt the tank, which is only 550 gallons it was a penal block at the time, tilt the tank so we can get a torpedo which we use for pump overs something you put at the top of the tank, right? So we pump almost all the wine out so it's in below the valve so we put the valve back on and so, all the wine is relatively protected because they are used to producing CO2 during fermentation they don't have to worry about it--

- That makes you fell good--

- Minus the 30 gallons on the floor, it was awesome. So anyway we get it all sorted out and it turns out she was going up over to the top of the tank for some reason and she--

- Osha would not approve.

- No, but she had stepped on the valve, and there's a clamp that holds the valve on it, it must have been not been on tight. No one is supposed to step on valves anyway.

- The old step on the on the valve.

- And so then the valve comes shooting off and I guess that was it. That was like probably the worst situation you could be in during harvest. But this has happened multiple times. Not exactly like this, but I've had people puncture my tanks with forklifts. I've had people open tanks and have wine come shooting out and so this last time it happened people were like, "I'm not touching your wine for the rest of the harvest."

- So the wine that I chose today is GD Vajra.

- Vajra.

- It's a Barolo called Albe. It was actually the 48th wine in the 2019 Wine Spectator top 100. Not why I picked it.

- Yes.

- Just a random tract.

- It wasn't 47th

- But I had this attach on to my story like you were saying earlier. I had this wine, I had had Barolo before, which is from northern Italy in Piedmont. Before my story, my story takes place but I hadn't really become a fan of it at that time. And I had this particular producer at an Italian restaurant on a market work trip in Colorado. And it was kind of my Aha moment with a Barolo where I was like, "Oh, this is really, this could be very tasty."

- When they're good, they're good.

- Usually Barolo can be very tannic, you know, dry light color though, not just color problems.

- Little hot, maybe. Just me?

- Like a little alcoholic you mean?

- Barolo's can be higher in alcohol too for old world wines. This one comes in at about 14% but you never know huh.

- Have you had this actual one before?

- I haven't had the 15, I've had some of the older vintages so this is actually my first time having it.

- And these take a long time to open up too if I remember correctly. I mean, just across the board, Barolos need a little bit of more air.

- And you get a lot of like, strawberry kind of jam from it.

- Asphalt.

- Asphalt, which sounds weird to say you are gonna enjoy that. You get some tar which sounds of wierd but it's some complexities in there with the fruit. So to get into the story, sales is a big part of what, what all winemakers have to do but specifically this former winemaker.

- Making the wine is the easy part selling it is the hard part.

- Yeah, and there was a real shift in my mind at one point where I had to go from, Okay, I'm making wine to now I'm selling wine.

- I wasn't gonna do it.

- And this was about 2013. I'd done market work before which is basically going into a market that sells your wine and you're working with the sales reps, you're trying to introduce your product. If you're not already established there, which we never have been in the markets we've gone and we've always been introducing our wine. You work with the sales reps, you're trying to convince them to get behind your wine. You're also trying to sell some wine while you are there.

- And to have a good time.

- And have a good time. Especially this was 2013, so I was a younger man. I've had some crazy experiences with with sales reps. I mean, it runs the gamut on personalities, but this guy, Oh, this guy is a master Psalms, master of wine. I can't remember which one he was, but he was very educated in the wine world.

- Good at debating maybe, master debater.

- And so we meet a parking garage in Denver, Colorado, he picks me up in a minivan with about four car seats, but he doesn't look old enough to have four kids.

- So it's fun when you start putting together like, "Okay, this is the guys thing, "let's see who this person is."

- Exactly. We get to the first account. He literally goes, "Hey, here's this guy," and walks away. And so he's on his phone doing something else and I'm kinda like,

- Sweet.

- "Okay", so then we get back in the car and I'm kind of doing the math like this guy does give a about us. Fast forward to the day. That's pretty much the rest of my day. It's him kind of leaving me to my own devices and then we get to, we get towards the end of the day and he says, "Okay, let's get some drinks." It's about four o'clock, he says, "Let's go to the four seasons--

- And you were just gonna tell about.

- Either bring us to absolute martinis.

- And I'm like," Oh, yeah, okay. "Yeah, that sounds good." And I'm thinking, four O'clock is a little bit early to be calling it quits on the sales trail.

- Yeah. Right.

- But I'm also like, you know, in my early 30s, so I'm like, sure.

- You wanted him to work till seven o'clock, get your money's worth--

- And so then we have a cocktail, and then he's like, "Let's go have dinner at this Italian place," which we don't make Italian wine so we know we're not going to do any bar sales there. I'm like, sure, but at this time too I wasn't overly self confident. I didn't exude self confidence in my sales ability.

- Always be closing.

- So I wasn't going to tell this guy like, "Hey, I don't think we should eat there. "We should probably get an account that actually "would serve our wine."

- So at home in Colorado, can we please--

- Yeah, exactly. I think this a bad idea. I started getting pretty buzzed. So I don't, you know, My whole, "Oh, I had a plan of selling wine "starts to go out the window." I'm like, "Yeah, let's have a great time." And then he was like, "You want to go to a "Denver nuggets game?" I'm like, "I hope I'm not paying for these tickets."

- I don't even remember why I came here. Of course I wanna go.

- I'm thinking, this guy wants me to buy the tickets. He calls the owner they studio and he says, "Hey are those court side tickets free tonight?" And he's like, basically I was like, "There's nobody more important in town. "So go ahead, you could have them."

- This shmurking guy.

- Okay, so we go there, sit court side, even though the nuggets suck at this time, the drinks are flowing court side and then he's like, "Okay, game's over." I'm thinking, "He's gonna drop me off. "I'm gonna go back to my hotel"

- My four kids.

- He's like, "Let's go get some oysters and have some bubbles." And I'm like, "Okay, again, I don't make champagne. "We don't sell champagne but yes, "let's go support more of your accounts." And so then it's about midnight, and then he's like, "Okay, the bubbles are all gone." So we go to another local after market or after hours spot where like, servers and kitchen staff hang out. And we're there and after about three beers I'm kind of like, "I got to go work tomorrow." And he drops me off and he's like, "I'll pick you up at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning." It's like 2am, "And I'll take you back to your car you can start your day." I'm thinking in my head, I'm like, "Tomorrow's gonna suck, "and this guy's not gonna pick me up." I woke up, he was there right at eight o'clock. Ready to go in his minivan with four car seats.

- Turned out four days later I find out I was divorced.

- Thanks for joining us on this episode. We had a good time. We'll see you on the next episode. Ciao.