John Munch
June 5, 2018 | John Munch

Why Am I So Stupid?

So, what's this all about? Well, it's about the stupid way that we make our wine.

The points:

  • Most wineries barrel or tank age their wines for a year or less on average before going to bottle. This quick & early bottling makes it relatively easy to respond to the vagaries of supply & demand. Need more wine? Just bottle it! Have too much inventory? Why, just make a deal with a big chain store. At worst, wineries with "normal" aging programs can quickly produce & bottle more wine within a year of the next harvest.
  • Why don't we simply bottle more wine then? Because the only non-stupid thing I do is insist on our extraordinarily long 3-year barrel aging of Le Cuvier wines. Many of our wines are barrel aged longer—much longer, & the unusual character we gain via this process cannot be rushed without loss of that je ne sais quoi that makes our wines unique. However, the consequences of this long, long time in barrel renders accurate planning a delusional process at best.
  • For example, the wine we make from this year's coming harvest will not begin to be available in the bottle until the 2nd half of 2021, with most of it not available until 2022. As you can imagine, it's wobbly at best trying to predict what the heck is going to be happening so far out into the future, but predict we must.
  • And prediction is all about the Elliptical Society, the growth in your club's membership, together with your lovely propensity for acquire more & more additional bottles has, of late, clearly been accelerating.
  • So, like that infamous butterfly flapping its little wings into global bouts of weather chaos across the globe, my own bony globe's little brain flaps about within a maelstrom of confusion & inevitably decides to produce too much, or too little wine. And yet, I always try to err in favor of too much wine because if we make too much, well, we simply let it age even longer... try explaining THAT logic to your fiscally responsible business partner!
  • Le Cuvier is indeed a very small winery with current annual production of just under 4,000 cases. That means that we don't have wine destined for stores & restaurants, & thus we don't have inventory that we can pull back to the tasting room if needed. In addition, our maximum allowable size by virtue of the wisdom of County Regulations is just 5,000 cases. That means that even if we grow to full capacity, we will never produce enough bottles to make the idea of selling wine out in the big word realistic. Thus, we are going to remain committed to you & the rest of our Elliptical Members. But we will slowly increase our production. My latest mental gymnastics predicts that we can ease up to our maximum size over the next 4 years, subject to harvest yields from our non-irrigated vineyard sources, a rare commodity. Of course, those additional future bottles do absolutely nothing to help today's shortage!
  • And, oh yes, another bit of stupidity is that for each additional year we stay in barrel we lose about 8% of our wine to evaporation—meaning that by the time we slide the wine into bottles, we've lost roughly a quarter of it in the form of the proverbial "angel's share"—fumes to be enjoyed by those besotted winged beings that can be heard giggling in the darkened corners of our barrel room. And just try explaining the merit of THAT LOSS to a fiscally responsible business partner!
  • A factoid: we do have lots of wine we could bottle, thousands of cases. Indeed, in terms of gallons stored in barrel, Le Cuvier is in truth equivalent to roughly a 15,000 case per year winery, lots of wine; save for the combination of my peculiar stupidity that insists on 3-years aging tempered by an unfettered desire to honor the grapes & the wild beasties, all of which have led to our gonzo predicament. Thus, we are faced with a bewildering conflux of limited allowable size, poor predictive capacity within the old brain pan, your growing demands for more & more wine, & all compounded by evaporative loss of what little amount of wine we do produce. A fine state of affairs, to be sure!

My Promise:

  • First & foremost, we will always make sure that we have the wines needed to fulfill our obligations to you, both the wines for your club shipments, but also additional wines needed to accommodate your splendid vinous feeding habits.
  • However, this means that the gang in the tasting room needs to show restraint, & of consequence, it is likely that we will need to restrict Elliptical Membership growth in the coming months & years. Ultimately we will need cap the size of the Elliptical Society. To this end, a growing "wait list" for pilgrims & citizens who want to joint your club is inevitable.

In equipoise to the loss of wine suffered to the aforementioned ethanol sniffing angels, we have a partial solution via the addition of a few bottles of wine appropriately named Devils Gate. Devils Gate is a wine owned & produced at his own micro-winery by winemaker Clay Selkirk (he who does all the winemaking work at Le Cuvier while I take all of the credit). Devils Gate wine is not intended to replace or even augment Le Cuvier's wine shortage; rather, Clay's wine is simply meant to provide additional bottles & variety for you to taste, experience & buy as we slide towards the end of our dearth-plagued sales season. Even though I promise to reserve the Le Cuvier wines needed to satisfy your typical buying habits, the fact is that club members & your fellow Elliptical Society friends have become aware that our wines now tend to sell out quickly & early in the season, & thus you have all been gobbling up available bottles soon upon release. I mean it's gotta be irritating to visit us late into our sales season & then find out that there are only one or two wines left to buy! At the very least, Devils Gate will round out the Le Cuvier tasting room experience for you as our wines run short, & I expect Clay's delightful wines will also help ensure that you leave with a smile on your face.


John Munch


Commenting has been turned off.