Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Small Business Manifesto

Exceedingly present on most people's minds these days is the economy. While I won't profess to be an expert in the field I do want to express my opinion about one of the potential solutions. We often hear that small business drives the economy, so let's examine that idea a little bit.

More businesses are likely to fall into the small business category. According to the SBA the standards for what qualify as a small business are generally, under 50 employees, and, other than certain farming industries, an annual revenue under $4 million. Why do I highlight these facts?; because it is helpful to point these parameters out. More businesses are small businesses. We are bombarded daily with advertising from big businesses, so we may have a skewed perspective, but come the end of the day, there are many more small businesses.

Possibly more important, the benefits of supporting small business are far and wide. Did you know that when you spend $100 in a local small business, roughly $70 of that amount stays in that local community? Do you like to support your neighborhood? Then supporting local business is a sure fire bet. In general, local business owners live in the neighborhood and spend their earnings in that same neighborhood, thus creating a chain of support for the local community.

Beyond the financial impact of supporting local business, the customer service aspects of small business far and away exceed that of big business. Have you ever tried to procure a simple document, like a 3 year old monthly statement, from one of our big banks? There are several layers of bureaucracy to go through and then it comes down to a contracted group, only affiliated with the big bank, to process the order. And you have no way to track this service. So if it does not happen on the first try, it is up to you to follow up multiple times. That same request at a small community bank and you are working with one employee, who you likely know by name.

Expand this to our field; wine merchant, and tangentially, food. Every wine person I know has some connection with food. I guarantee if you approach a local wine merchant with a food-related question you will get plenty of useful information. Besides the obvious affinity wine has for food, remember that merchants work extended hours and have to eat somewhere. So they have likely tried everything within a stone's throw of their business and have an opinion on it. Have you tried walking into a large chain wine store and asked an employee for the best bistro in the area?

The customer service aspect of small business can be overlooked sometimes but when you don't get good customer service somewhere, you notice. Small local business pay attention to details. They specialize. It wasn't that long ago that people shopped for their cheese at a cheese shop, or their meat from a butcher. We see these things coming back in fashion. Support them. You will get better products. You will get special attention and you will support your local economy, which in turn, will have an effect exponentially.
I wrote these five years ago when we opened and it still remains our credo.

What you can expect from a independent wine merchant, like Rosso Wine Shop:

1) We will say hello when you walk in the door.
2) We will do our best to understand your palate and price range and suggest accordingly.
3) Ask for a $20 Cabernet and we will find you a good Cabernet at that price, no up-selling.
4) We will contact you when we run into a wine we think you would love.
5) We will offer you limited production wines and special deals on closeout items we find.
6) If you end up with a problem bottle (i.e. corked or damaged) we will replace it.

Anyone else have opinions on this subject?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sunday Supper at Lucques

A great value for the quality, preparation and service.

sunday supper

august 14, 2011

eggplant purée with burrata,
sweet peppers and shaved pecorino

2nd (choice of )
clams and chorizo with shell beans,
grilled toast and smoked tomato butter

harissa-grilled chicken with farro,
swiss chard, summer squash and charmoula

nectarine and blackberry galette
with crème fraîche and pistachios

$45 per person

Very flavorful food. Great textures. Well presented. Excellent service. 

Off their list: 2010 Cassis Rosé

BYO: 2001 Clos Vougeot

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Visit Wine Country

It is always great fun to visit where grapes are grown and where wine is made. You often hear people in the business say "each wine has a story," and many times, that connection to "the story" makes for a more favorable view of the wine. Not a distortion, mind you, more of a better understanding of the elusive sense of place.

If you have any interest in learning more about the process, the climate, the reason for being, a trip to wine country will be enlightening. Just like we always say the most important thing about learning wine is to taste, we also believe understanding where the wine comes from leads to added insightfulness.

On a recent Napa trip we were able to try some new wines and re-taste some old favorites. These kinds of trips contribute greatly to your inner encyclopedia of wine tastes. We highly recommend a wine country visit, to any one, really.

Fisher Vineyards was our first stop. They are located on the Sonoma side of Spring Mountain. The site is amazing. The wines are equally as beguiling. They are a very small production and all family owned and run, established in 1973.

Next up was Failla Wines on the Silverado Trail in St Helena. Ehren Jordan, the wine maker, trained in Europe and has an affinity for Pinot Noir and Syrah, even though he is based in Napa. He sources fruit largely from top sites in Sonoma. 

Outpost Winery was another visit. Thomas Rivers Brown is likely one of the most sought-after wine makers currently. He picks and chooses his projects and crafts top quality wines.  Outpost has amazing views on Howell Mountain. Great wines; Cabs, Zins, Petite Syrah and Grenache.

Another memorable stop was Karl Lawrence Winery, located on the bench floor, in St Helena. Mike Trujillo is the winemaker. We have worked with the wines at the store. Mostly Cabs and reserve Cabs. We were able to try some of the reserve wines, which in small production, are fantastic.

Corison Winery was a quick stop also. Kathy Corison crafts what I would call classic wines. They are balanced and show a real purity of fruit. Her style is what could be described as restrained, when compared to some of the real juicy wines that are dominating the market, but we like them a lot. Try to find some older vintages. You will be impressed.

A good resource for Napa Valley is: