Monday, March 9, 2009

It's a week to trade info at annual show

Amid the activities on the calendar this week for Buckingham Valley Vineyard’s Jerry Forest, and probably most of the other winery owners in the region, will be a couple of trips to the Valley Forge Convention Center for the annual Wineries Unlimited show. It’s a combo trade show and conference, running from Tuesday through Friday. Scroll down through this link from my associate Carlo DeVito of East Coast Wineries, who documented his observations of last year’s Wineries Unlimited in his blog.

Forest said he’ll take away a number of ideas from this well-known show, including the seminars “on everything you can imagine [about] winemaking and vineyard growing.” I wondered how often the topic of screw caps came up. A phenomenon that is becoming more evident during visits to the state store, I can’t think of a regional winery I’ve visited yet that has switched from the traditional cork. Forest said there’s a good reason for that.

“The reason people don’t switch to it immediately,” he said, “is because the machinery is expensive. If you want to go manual, one bottle at a time, it’s about 10 grand. If you want to go automated you are going to wind up spending 100 [grand], I think.

“We spent on our last line about $200,000. Our new line will do both corks, synthetic closures and screw caps on the same line. But, you know, very few people can afford that . . . so that’s the reason you’re not going to be seeing too many small wineries going with it. Sandcastle just bought a screw cap machine. It’s a single head, one bottle at a time, maybe do five, 10 bottles a minute. It’s not the sort of thing a decent [sized] winery is gonna slow down that much. So that’s the reason. In this business, as you know, we do what we have to do and we make up a story to go along with it. So you ask somebody they’ll say ‘screw caps are bad, cheap wine and all that.’ Well, ask them if they can afford it.”

What Forest and the winery can afford, actually, is a continuation of sales that have gotten 2009 off to a rollicking start. Business, he said, is up almost 10 percent for the first two months of the year. “We were striving to bring in more business the last day of February, and we did,” he said. “Ten percent is not a bad growth figure; even in a big economy it’s fantastic.”

Regarding what’s ahead at the winery, Forest noted they’ll release a spring wine in May. This coming weekend they’ll join their comrades along the Bucks County Wine Trail for an arts show. “We get all kinds of sculptures out on the front lawn and everyplace,” he said. “Everybody [on the trail] is going to have something going.”

No comments: