In the wine industry, there is no time to dwell on the past, although it really can be fun for us. Every year I always read statements from all sorts of people I know that are simply happy to leave the last year in the past. I honestly can never think of a moment where that has been the case for me. Sure, like everyone I know all about what is happening in the greater world good or bad, but my world is wine. Therefore, every day that I wake up and get to come to Tarara is another great day. Picture this… wake up to say good morning to your children and see them off to school (yes, that has already started for those that know me and were around when my children were born), walk outside to the view of Shadow lake and then start the decision process. Should I take the dog and walk the vineyard first, or go hang out in the cave and taste some wines to see how they are doing. Either way, the likelihood is whatever I choose the other will be done later in the day. Simply put I can’t complain about life and I was just as thrilled with 2016 as any other year. I am blessed. Now, why was 2016 just as good or better than any other? Here a just a few examples:
• Fire! - We had a gigantic 1 acre bonfire to try to save our Chardonnay that had bud-break in those frigid Spring dips that dropped to 25 degrees… who does that?!?!?! Well, we tried and it worked. Best Chardonnay harvest we can imagine.
• Concerts - Another record breaking year for the amount of people coming out to our concerts, including our very biggest and first sold out concert ever… Oh, and the Legwarmers are coming twice this year now!!!!
• Wine Releases - Release of several new wines including our first from Bethany Ridge Vineyard, our first release from our new Viognier and Petit Manseng vines on the Hill Block, the Boneyard Pinnacle release, and several “killer” Killer Cluster wines.
• Vineyard - Brought in our vineyard assistant Hannah to hang out with Kevin and make the vineyard even better with her knowledge and passion.
• Local Sourcing - Back to being 100% reliant on our own vineyards that are either owned or leased by us. We are growing all the grapes the way we want them and all from Loudoun County. Yeah!!!
• Community - Did even more work in the community, but particularly lots of work with Paxton Campus to do all we can to help our area of the world for many people with needs.
• New Friends - Most importantly… Introduced over 10,000 new people to Tarara who have now become our friends for life.
Now, as I said, while reflection is incredible when you live the life that we do, we must move on and ensure the 2017 is even better. I have to say I have never been more excited for what the coming year has to offer. There is always something that will be happening at Tarara in 2017. Some highlights are our annual Riedel Tasting, the Quarterly Vine Club Parties, best concert series line-up yet, Barrel Tasting event, Fall Release, and much more. That said, the most important thing to me at the moment is our team. We always want to make sure that we have the best team in place to ensure you get the service and wine you deserve. Have we made mistakes in the past? Sure we have at times, and I apologize, but we always want to do better. This year I think we have got it!!!!
We are entering the year with the greatest team anyone could ask for. Any of you that have ever managed people know that it is nearly impossible to look at your team and say you are 100% thrilled. Well, with a few little tweaks I think we are there to enter 2017. The team at Tarara is second to none in their quest to not only make the best wine, but offer it in the most professional, but very friendly and unpretentious manner. Here is 2017’s starting lineup:
• Valerie Winn – I am starting with Valerie because the reality is she is the tweak. She is the new face in 2017, starting here as the face of our Tasting Room with Bryan just this past December. Valerie has been with us for a while as one of the most beloved people in our tasting room from all of you, but when the opening arose to make this her career she jumped in full-time. We are thrilled to have Valerie’s enthusiasm, passion and smiling face here to great each and every one of you. She also can’t wait for her next opportunity to see each of you and hear either your suggestions as to how to make Tarara even better for you, or just to chat.
• Margaret Hubert – The matriarch. Obviously Margaret would normally have come first but I want to make sure you read about Valerie as the new person in case you get bored of my writing and stop reading. Margaret not only is the reason we all can do what we do here at Tarara, but also the reason we all want to do what we do. There has never been a better person for any of us to be able to work for. She truly is one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever met and every day that I walk in and get to see Margaret here at Tarara is a great day. I think we all feel the same and I have never met a guest that hasn’t felt the same.
• Bryan Winfrey – The long term mainstay that you see in the tasting room. Bryan is a quiet glue holding so much together at Tarara including at time my sanity. His Zen ways of making it through the busiest of days as our internet crashed and our water stops, from being in the country, is remarkable. There is not much I can say that you don’t already know about Bryan. He’s simply awesome and has been for a long time. That said, I have to give you something so I will give you a fun fact. Bryan whips up a mean spreadsheet and takes Microsoft Excel very seriously!!!
• Kim Parker – One of two people that pre-date me at Tarara and the one that keeps your Vine Club in perfect shape. Kim makes sure that all of your needs are heard and figured out as club members. Behind the scenes she also handles our philanthropy and much of our administrative work. The work that Kim does simply makes it so all of us can do everything we do. She also keeps me in check and makes sure I don’t do anything crazy, or at least tries to clean up the mess when I do.
• Margie Russell – our Finance Officer and chief consigliore. I can’t tell you how long Margie has been at Tarara because she used to have a gun rack on her wall and now she is the only person who knows where those guns are . Regardless, she has the most history here and makes sure we all understand what we have or haven’t done in the past. She also signs all our paychecks so really she is the most popular person at Tarara.
• Tim Kish – the dude that actually makes sure the wine is all taken care of. While we discuss the winemaking all the time, Tim is the guy that makes it happen. Driving forklifts, running pumps, calibrating tanks, moving barrels, and tasting wine. Tim lives the life. A little known item of what is on Tim’s job description is that he is also responsible for helping me out when I am crying because I think a snake is going to bite me, and then it turns out the snake is actually already dead anyway.
• Kevin Goolsby – the man that makes it so that we can make the wine that we do. Kevin has got our vineyards in the best place they have ever been. If you haven’t met Kevin while here, he is the easiest person to find. He is the dirtiest guy who sometimes forgets to take off his shoes after being in the vineyard. Turns out he is also a good fire fighter… although he did also start the fire…
• Hannah Kasabian – if Kevin is the man that makes it possible for us to make great wine, Hannah is the woman that does that same. Hannah joined us last spring as Kevin’s right hand and she has brought a wealth of knowledge and passion to the vineyard helping us escalate our quality even further. Little known fact, she is also a carpenter extraordinaire. She has spent the off-season building us all sorts of bat-houses and work huts!
• Yours Truly – While my job is to manage things around Tarara and head up the winemaking, there is much more to my life here. I am the most under-qualified HVAC mechanic and pool guy your will ever meet. I can spend hours working on a perfectly functioning piece of equipment still to deem it broken only because I was looking at the wrong piece of equipment all along. Simply put, I succeed because I am surrounded by the people written about above.
With that, we’d like to invite all of you to visit Tarara in the very near future as we launch headlong into another awesome year filled with fun events, exciting happenings, and incredible wines. We hope to see each and every one of you at Tarara very soon!
General Manager and Winemaker