Friday, April 3, 2009

Elk Run's '6 at a Time' off to good start

Carol Wagner of the long-running (Carol and Fred Wilson and Neill Bassford established it in 1979) and successful Elk Run Vineyards in Mt. Airy, Md., was kind enough to give me a few minutes of her time on the phone last week. This is one I’ve been guilty of holding to gather some extra information, but at this point I think I’ll punt and post what I have. Best, it seems, to simply run in a Q & A format.

Q: Have you been around long enough now that it’s more word of mouth than finding you have to advertise, that fact that you exist and the wines you sell and the awards you win?

A: I think that's true. The problem with the advertising is that you have to do so much . . . It seems to me that the consistency of repeated advertising; it’s when someone has seen it three or four times that it tends to sink in, and that's just somewhat difficult moneywise.”

Q: Does it help as more wineries opening around you?

A: Actually, we have formed this Frederick Wine Trail, of which there are six of us, and four of us are 5 miles from each other. We are applying for a grant, which I think we'll get, through our county for joint marketing, and in that sense, we are going to be aiming a little bit more at the media, but as a group. . . . When you have six [wineries], that makes us a destination.”

Q: What have the effects of the economy been?

A: The downturn in the economy is becoming successful for the local wineries. I think our purchases per person are probably a little bit lower, full 12-bottle cases a little lower, but the quantity of people coming [is up]. They're staying home, they're doing stuff that's closer that isn't as expensive to go and taste at a winery.

Q: So maybe where they used to leave with six bottles, now they’re leaving with three?

A: Yes. Although we went to all total six-bottle cases, even to the retail stores. We call it Fine Wine 6 at a Time, and in a store a distributor will charge a surcharge to break up a case if the store doesn’t want to buy 12, as much as $1.25 a bottle. So this way it gives the store the opportunity to buy less to put on the shelf at one time, and it seems to be working.

Q: How many years have you been doing this?

A: This year. We just started it.

Additions to the events schedule

Terrapin Station Winery, located a few miles north of Elkton, Md., sent out a note Thursday about several tastings its doing this weekend.
Friday: 4:30 - 7:30 p.m..
Upcounty Fine Wine Clarksburg, Md.
Saturday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,
State Line Liquors, Elkton, Md.
Saturday: 1 - 5 p.m.,
House of Liquors Westminster, Md.

And then there's this sale just announced at
Manatawny Creek Winery in Douglassville, Pa. Winemaker and proprietor Joanne Levengood wrote in an e-blast: We are finding it hard to find space in the cellar for newly bottled wine! So, in order to make some room, this coming weekend, April 3rd through April 5th, we are having an end-of-the-winter Winter Warmth sale. Our spiced, sweet, red Winter Warmth wine will be on sale for 20% off per bottle. Additional 10% off case prices apply! To show you how Winter Warmth can be enjoyed cold in warmer weather, we’ll have some Winter Warmth Spritzers on hand for everyone to try.