A few years ago my son Graham let me know he wanted to make his own wine. Inherent in this decision was that he would become a business owner and operator. Since I love my son and believe in him I decided I deeply wanted to support his dreams.
I have an extensive background in business; however I knew virtually nothing about wine and the wine business. Although there are basics in any business, each business has its uniqueness. There is learning curve and risks to be taken as knowledge is gained and decisions have to be made.
The economics of a business are usually the easiest parts. How much do grapes cost? How much does it take to turn those grapes into a wine, bottled, labeled and shipped to a consumer, restaurant or distributor? How much do you charge to whom? What are the profit margins? How many cases do you have to produce and sell to make the business profitable?
On the other side wine making takes great patience. It sits in barrels for months or years. Going through governmental processes such as licensing, bonding and figuring out taxes take patience and tenacity. Every single state has different rules and regulations. There is a whole vocabulary to learn: terroir, TTB, COLA, AVA, fortification, Negociant, Viticulture etc.
It’s not enough to learn the economics, the vocabulary, and the regulations. You need to be able to distinguish the qualities of the wine. The alcohol content, the nose, the legs, the flavors, etc. Taste trumps all else. I know what I like. I know what I don’t like. That is as far as it goes. No sophisticated palate here.
Fortunately an exquisite palate is one of the great strengths Graham brings to the business. He’s been steeped in a culture of great food and wine his whole life. He has accompanied his mother, who is the owner and operator of Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures, throughout the world and participated in preparing and savoring some of the finest food and wines on earth.
He has continued refining his taste, knowledge and skill, through working in restaurants and vineyards. Graham’s goal is to make an affordable wine that appeals to both the fine wine connoisseur and to the general public.
As his business partner I had no idea if his wine would appeal to the palate of others. But I trust that my son really knows his stuff. This trust has been borne out again and again by how Buona Notte has been received. Winemakers, restaurant owners, and wine shops are embracing and excited about Buona Notte. None of these buyers really need yet another wine to sell. They have an unlimited supply of alternatives. They are putting their reputations and their own brand on the line by placing Buona Notte on the shelf and on the wine list. This reinforces the fact that Graham is good at his craft. They enjoy the quality and value of the wine. I’m sure some of them also want to support a hot young winemaker just making his debut.
Here’s the basics of our business plan. Make wine that is delicious for people to enjoy. Let enjoyment fuel the brand. Let the name, Buona Notte, become synonymous with quality. Once a following is created the market share grows. Graham continually learns from the feedback loop of the public and his peers. Over the years, the business expands and matures.
Delicious is such a subjective concept. I invite you to give Buona Notte the test. My son Graham is taking the risk to step into the world with his expertise and his passion to proudly say, “This is my creation. I think you will enjoy it.”
Give it a try. If enough of you love it we will continue on the path. We will diversify with other types of grapes and make a variety of wines that you can pair with food or simply savor for sheer pleasure. May our wines to bring more joy into your lives. This would be Buona Notte’s ultimate definition of delicious.