Archive for June, 2008

Design Renderings

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I’ve been neglecting this blog, but not for lack of things to say – on the contrary, there’s been so much going on that I’ve thought “I need to write about that” but just haven’t had the time. I’ve been tasting tons of wine – some great, some not so much – and am making great progress on putting together the inventory. I’ll write another post about a few of the standouts. This one’s about the renderings, though; we’ve had them for a week or two now and I’ve been meaning to put them up here, but haven’t had the time. The space is going to look absolutely gorgeous, and we’ve gotten great feedback from everyone we’ve shown them to. Click on each image for a larger picture. (Note: we promise not to suck out our customers’ souls and turn them into shadow people.)

Rendering 1

Rendering 2

Rendering 2

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

What a week! I arrived here late Sunday night (major storms in Iowa and here slowed me down, but compared to what so many people have been through, it was a breeze) and it fits like a glove. Aimee and I love our new place (we bought a loft in the Warehouse Lofts, in view of the MPM and a 4-minute walk to it), everyone we’ve met has been so excited about what we’re doing, and we’re moving fast getting the shop going.

We’re targeting the week of July 9 for the opening, which is coming up fast.

If you’ve been by our space in the public market, it doesn’t look like much is going on. Taste of Wisconsin still has merchandise in the space near the wall, and the middle space is a hodge-podge of counters, seating, and miscellaneous equipment. Behind the scenes, though, we’re hopping. Working with Sharon Celek, our interior designer, we’ve got our schematic and design finalized and everything’s in process. Shelving, tables, chairs, and bar stools have been ordered and are on their way, we’ve got an amazing woodworker building out our custom bar and woodwork out of reclaimed wood as I type this, Badger Railing was in today to measure for our metalwork and the railing that will enclose our seating area, under-bar coolers (“reach-ins”) and dishwashers have been purchased, etc.

It’s all happening off-site, so it’ll come together really quickly. We’re targeting the week of the 9th for our opening, which is definitely attainable. Stressful (is it really already June 17!?!), but attainable. Costs are coming in higher than we hoped, but that’s to be expected with any build-out and I built enough flexibility into the budget so that we’ll be fine – with our savings, some help from family, and a small business loan (thanks Johnson Bank!) that we’re closing on tomorrow, it’s all good. The space will be fantastic and we’ve got the ability to stock the wines we want, which is all that matters.

Speaking of that, Aimee and I have been tasting some beautiful wines in the last week. I’m spending my days weeding through distributor portfolios to look for the wines that we might be interested in, setting up meetings, sampling a lot of wines (some good, some not so much, and some just not the right fit), and we’re definitely separating the wheat from the chaff for you. Our goal is to have every wine on the shelf be something you can trust. You may not know the producer, the varietal, or the region, but you can know that it’s going to be good.

North Platte, Nebraska

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

I’m in North Platte, NE – from what I can tell, it’s got your standard interstate hotels, restaurants, and gas stations. I can only guess if South Platte (if there is one) is as exciting – en route to Milwaukee from Sonoma County.

Basic directions – get on i80E and drive for a really long time. Immediately after my MW exam finished Friday afternoon I took off in my Mini Cooper loaded with whatever the movers didn’t take a week ago along with our two cats for thirty hours of driving. Yep, sounds fun. The cats actually have been great – I let them out of their carriers so they’d quit their yelling and Bonnie just curled up in my lap and slept, while Gigio (the cowardly lion) found the most secluded nook in the car and kept quiet. The trip’s been smooth – going over the Sierra Nevadas (and the infamous Donner Pass) is gorgeous; Nevada is flat, fast, and boring; Utah likewise except in the mountains around Park City; Wyoming confirms why it’s the fastest-declining-population state in the country. A lot quicker than when I did it in reverse moving from Minneapolis to CA almost 5 years ago, when a blizzard hit and a big-rig crash shut down I80 in Wyoming for 10 hours with me stuck on the highway. I’m looking forward to getting to MKE tomorrow to see Aimee in person for the first time in weeks!

Obligatory business news – exciting Thief Wine purchase of the week is…..a killer dishwasher! (actually, glasswasher since that’s all that’s really important, but everyone says dishwasher.) Also locked in some great ‘05 Bordeaux (see below) and older Barolo).

My MW exam – not as good as hoped. I won’t get the results until September, but am not optimistic that I passed. Without going into mind-numbing detail about how the exam works, there’s three tasting papers (white, red, and mixed), and four theory essays (viticulture, winemaking, wine business, contemporary issues). You’ve got to pass all papers of each section to pass that section, and I think I passed the white and maybe the mixed, but bombed the reds; not certain about the theory.

Other fun wine notes. Yesterday evening I enjoyed an ‘05 Chateau Dubourg St. Emilion. Not sure where I got it from, but it was fantastic – classic red berry fruit, some violets & graphite notes from the Cab. Franc – and really well balanced, still very young (didn’t care – at that point I was in Wells, NV after having been up since 4 am forcing the remnants of a house into my car, taking the last day of the exam, and driving for 500 miles – i just wanted a good wine) but delicious. 2005 was a great vintage for Bordeaux in general; if you didn’t buy futures it’ll be hard to get the really good stuff, but I’m working with some connections to get Thief some highly desirable wines at good prices.

Tonight is Chateau Nenin 2004 Pomerol. Also Merlot-based on Bordeaux’s Right Bank and along with St. Emilon are the two top official Right Bank appellations, generally considered to be lighter, a bit more floral, but this is a really ripe and juicy wine for Pomerol. Quite nice, though. Nice way to end the day – after 11 hours of driving, I’m exhausted.