April 4, 2012

Hello Again – Happy Spring!!

First – vineyard news:
The vineyards around the area are all growing by leaps and bounds.  We have had mostly sunny and relatively warm weather, with the occasional rainy day – – just what the vines need to grow up big and strong.  Its a great start to the new year.

It is this time of year that makes me SAD to have needed to sell-off the vineyard.  I have always looked forward to the new growing season with anticipation for a great vintage- but not for me this year….it is now up to Isabel at Domaine Saint Prefert.

I should mention that she has bottled her Domaine Saint Prefert 2011 Cotes du Rhone from THE property.  It is really good!! And, as I expected would be the case for her – SHE HAS ALREADY SOLD OUT (at a price higher than mine)!!! She had, last fall,  brought by the people from Wine Spectator, as well as  Jancis Robinson, and Steven Tanzer, and even Rober Parker – to show them her new acquisition – and pointed out to them what a great Cotes du Rhone it would make, etc….and with her 98-100 point 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape reputation, they swooned all over it…and the rest, as they say..is history.  So – Congratulations to Domaine Saint Prefert for bringing the recognition to the vineyard that it deserves.

On the wine front:

This has been a really, really bad quarter for selling wine.  April is turning out to be another dismal month for sales – way down from the last two years..with no apparent reason.  Added together with January and February and it is pretty bleak.  It is this type of sales trend which makes me HAPPY to have needed to sell off the vineyard.  With sales like these, I would be up to me ^#%# in alligators trying to figure out how to pay the bills.

I have just released the 2010 Cotes du Rhone – so I am hoping, because of the mailer I sent out to announce the release, that sales will pick back up soon. I will be bottling the 2010 Ombre du Chateau next month, and have it ready for release in mid-June. And the wine fair in Chateauneuf will be coming up in August – so I have that to look forward to again this year.

On a Personal Note:

NEW Crazy Story

As many of you may know, I have never been successful in getting a French Driver’s License (Conduit de Permit).  The rules are you need on after you have been a resident for 1 year (and of course I have been here almost 4 now).  I tried before to get one, but taking the course in French and then trying to pass the exam – in French – was really tough!!  I got close but not close enough.  So, I decided…#%& IT – I’ll wait. (Though what I would wait for I no idea….divine intervention maybe?!?!?).

With the change in business/lifestyle strategy – to include conducting tours of the wine areas- it seemd more incumbant that I have the right certifications.  So – I decided to try again.  Fortunately, I found a school in Paris that teaches the course in ENGLISH and arranges to have the test taken – in ENGLISH !!! YAY!!!!!!

So – signed up and off to Paris I went – just this last week.  The deal was – I was to go to school for 2 days and then take the exam on Wednesday.  So I jumped on the train Sunday afternoon and tooled up to Paris – hopped on the Metro and got myself to the hotel in time for dinner.  No Problemo!

Up the next morning, I arrived promptly at the school and spent all day taking practice exams and discussing the finer points with the instructor – one-on-one.  So Far So Good!

Tuesday – after having the morning off – and doing some wandering of the streets of Paris – in the RAIN!! – I went back to the school after lunch for more of the same drill.  Finished about 6:00 pm and headed downtown (Louvre area) for more sight seeing and dinner…having arranged to meet with the instructor and other students at 8:00 the next morning for final prep and trip to take the exam.  ALL SET AND FEELING GOOD!!!

And then…..its 7:30 – I am about to walk into a restaurant on the Rue Rivoli, not far from the Place de la Concorde – and the phone rings.  It is the school.  They have JUST received notice from the Prefecture de Police that the examination for the next morning has been CANCELLED!!!!  And they have not rescheduled it.  And may not…..

So now I am out train tickets, and hotels and restaurant meals for a trip that, while not completely lost – certainly means having a DO-OVER !!!  And added to the cost of the ‘Private Lesson”..the cost is going up and up and up and up……MERDE!!!!

So I spent Wednesday morning starting the driving portion of the lesson..and discussing options for taking the exam at a later date..as soon as they hear from the Prefecture.

So – much EURO’s later..and tired feet from wandering Paris in the rain..I returned to the house and the nice weather…and wait for word from Paris on when to start the whole circus over again…

C’est la vie francaise!

More later