Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Ghost Winery

"Ugh, I'm doing a tasting with four Silver Ridge wines tonight," I moaned to my coworker Kim over glasses of wine yesterday afternoon. We took a quick lunch at one of my restaurant clients after a particularly long sales meeting to refuel and gossip.

"Yuck, that's boring."

"Seriously. It's not that the wines are terrible, it's just that there's no story, nothing to say about them. I end up just pouring and looking at them - 'Well, here's the Merlot... what do you think?'"

Silver Ridge is one of our - hmmm... let's say, everyday value lines from California. Which is fine - those are the lines that pay my rent. The frustrating thing is that for whatever reason, we have absolutely no background on this winery. None. I don't know who makes them, how long they have been around, no fun trivia, no stories to tell, or even where they are located, except that the label says California. (Seriously, Google Silver Ridge Winery and see if anything substantial comes up. I'll give $100 to any reader who finds something that I can actually use.)

This lack of information makes it a bit difficult when you are trying to get people to buy them. I like to have something to say besides, "Well, here it is. Nothing special, but decent and cheap. So do you want to buy some?" With a client you can get away with that more often - they know what they need and that everything has it's place. However, when you're pouring at a public tasting you need a bit more of a shtick. The people want to hear more about it, where it's from, the quirky background of the owners, the name of the winery dog - whatever. Anything to make it seem a bit special, and to give me something to chat about when the tasters are standing two feet in front of me tentatively sniffing their glasses with blank looks on their faces.

"Eh, just make something up," Kim quipped.

"Good call." I slipped into my playing-for-a-crowd-of-strangers voice, "Silver Ridge is the name of the horse who saved the family from a fire twenty years ago when the entire farm went up in flames! Luckily, the vineyards were spared, and that's why you get a hint of smoke on the finish of the Cabernet..." I dramatized.

"Ha! The winemaker is a beautiful, brilliant lady named Kim who has won numerous awards..." she started.

"Totally! Maybe I can even figure out a way to slip a fake accent into the story. I've always wanted to rock a fake accent."

"Don't go overboard."


Anonymous Andrea said...

Huh. I always hated that.

All I could sleuth up is that Silver Ridge is owned by Bronco Wine Company, which means that it is intentional that there's no "sales" info on them on the web, as Fred Franzia kind of hates that shit. Bronco doesn't even have a website that talks about the company.

Here's an interesting interview with Fred Franzia, if it's of any help:

I like your story the best, though.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Erin said...

That man seems very scary to me. It now bothers me that we even carry his wines. Luckily Silver Ridge is the only one.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Marco Montez said...


I found your blog via a comment you left on mine. First of all thanks for reading my blog and leaving the comment... not too many people take the time to leave me a note. So, I was happy to read your comment!

Regarding this post.... this is great stuff and it is encouraging to me since I hope to soon launch my own small winery. It is tough to compete in the wine business, but I believe that if I can offer a wine along with a story and tell people something they have not heard before, maybe even teach them something about wine, I have a better chance to bring the customer back and succeed as a business.


2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, does that offer of $100 still stand? I was looking for them too, for the same reason, as I wanted to be able to tell a story about their Early Muscat. Found you instead. but then typed in and i'll be damned f there isn't a site and a facility and a store and evne a place you can rent to get married. Seems like they need a web optimizer.

12:13 AM  

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