With Food Fests, Best of the Year wine tastings, new gift basket designs, more gourmet foods, and an all-around sense of good cheer and community, The Wine Country is the place to be this holiday season.
It hardly seems possible, but The Wine Country is on the cusp of our 24th holiday season.
Our first edition of this newsletter, back when we printed them instead of e-mailing them, was written just as we were about to open our store in November 1995. It featured what would become perennial Thanksgiving wine recommendations, a mission statement for our store--which has largely remained constant over the years--and write-ups of our initial wine offerings.
In 1995, there was no craft beer movement to speak of, and we were still 11 months away from obtaining our license to sell fine spirits. Our gourmet food department consisted of fresh cheeses, salami, caviar and some crackers, and our gift and accessory department offered a few cork pullers, stemware, decanters, wine totes and lots of books on wine. That, friends, was long before Amazon and Wikipedia, and we actually treasured our books to learn about things.
Holiday Gift Baskets Still Custom Made
Another original feature for our store were custom-made gift baskets, made in-house by my wife Dale Kemner, who has personally designed and crafted nearly every one since the beginning--over 20,000 by my count. It is immensely gratifying when local businesses turn to us for their client gift lists instead of giving their business to strangers they find on the internet. Dale personalizes each basket to suit our business clients' wishes, whether they contain wine, beer, bubbly or whiskey, or no alcohol at all, which is office friendly and can be shared by an office staff.
It's amusing to compare 1995 prices with today's. Suffice to say that things cost more nowadays, but certain wines and spirits cost a whole lot more, while others remain comparative bargains. For example, boutique Napa Valley Cabernets could be found for under $30, while their reserves seldom reached the $50 threshold. We were offering first-growth Bordeaux for $52.99 to $69.99, which are selling from $600 to $900 today.
On the other hand, Pouilly-Fuissé and Chablis remain bargains today, as do Cotes du Rhone, Alsace, Loire Valley, Cahors, classic Italian reds and just about all Spanish wine. And you can still find surprisingly good party Chardonnay for $3.99.
One thing that has remained consistent as we enter our 24th holiday season, The Wine Country is committed to serving our customers above all else. Quality and value remain uppermost in our minds, but our true mission is that every bottle going out of our store provides pleasure to each of our beloved customers.