Monday, July 30, 2012

Rock Star in Kansas City

Sometimes, selling wine can be a drag. There's so much competition and so many reps on the road these days, so you’ve got to try to stand out. I’m not very good at that, as I have a knack for being unable to kiss ass. What I am good at, however, is absolutely completely truly and terrifyingly loving what I do.

It’s a jolt to stumble onto people who appreciate that, and many of those people live, unexpectedly, in Kansas City, Missouri. Without exaggeration, talking wine with folks there is a pleasure because they’re passionate, too. My bud Jason Burton (The LAB) tells me it’s because they can appreciate artisans, and I think that’s part of it. The other part might be that they’re genuinely fun folks who love to have a good time and appreciate really special things.

My opinion of those outstanding KC folks was elevated and cemented thanks to a tasting at Lukas Liquors hosted by Jodi Dyer and Dennis Schaefer. I already have a soft spot for Dennis, because he was the first journalist to write about Riverbench when we first opened four years ago. The rest of the group was just as cool; they asked awesome questions about food pairings (my favorite thing) and who puts the pink wax on our rose (our vineyard manager’s dad, Fred, who deserves a post solely dedicated to him). I don’t think I stopped talking the whole time, but the time flew by because it was just so darn fun.

I think Sean and Michael (QED Wine Purveyors) who sell our wines in KC must only take me to the good places, because every account is friendly, excited about the wine, and supportive. I do think that good people should surround themselves with other good people, as it promotes that positive energy. Seems like that’s what these guys do. They’re the epitome of a small business, a two man sales team who are working hard to spread the story of California’s artisan winemakers. It’s not an easy task, but they do it and they do it well. They treat me rather like a rock star, which is an incredible ego boost, but it’s because they love what we’re doing at Riverbench, and respect the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into it. It’s probably largely because of them that I’ve fallen a bit in love with Kansas City.

So KC, and all the charming and wonderful people there, thank you. Thanks for “getting” it, supporting it, and living it!

Monday, July 23, 2012


There's nothing like surrounding yourself with inspiring people to make you feel, well, inspired.

And for the past week, that's exactly what I've done.

I took an exam a few weeks ago, and received feedback from my professor recently. Since the tests are graded blindly, he had written something to the effect of: "I don't know who you are, but please tell me, because you are an outstanding writer." On exam essay questions?! For realz?

Those who know me know I'm terrible at compliments, and this one was no exception and caught me completely off-guard. Sure, I like writing. But only in the past few years have I thought about actually being decent at it.

Which took me to the next thought: I have so many amazing things to say about Riverbench and the wine country lifestyle, and I'm not sharing them because I've always treated this blog like my own personal cheese making complaint platform.

So from here on out, things change. This becomes the official Riverbench blog, containing accounts from my exciting sales trip visits, my "apprenticeship" with winemaker Clarissa Nagy this fall, winery updates and goodies, and, of course, the ongoing saga of being an amateur cheesemaker and beekeeper on the property.

I can't wait to share it. And Dr. W, (along with the others I have just been ignoring for a while) thanks for being my inspiration!