Friday, January 24, 2014

The Best of 2013

Being the end of January, we are just about beyond the window of "let's reflect on 2013," so figured I better get this post up quick before it seems too nostalgic.  And Aaron has actually had input on some blog post ideas of late and he thought this would be a good one.  I agreed.  Right after each event occurred, we had little time to reflect on it because there was always something else happening right on the heels of it.  I am pretty confident I will look back at 2013 thirty years from now and say it was just about the craziest year of our lives.  At least, I hope that's the case!  Raising an infant and a two year would be enough to call it a physically exhausting year.  But, on top of it, we had just a few other events that made it a whirlwind year. 

The year was filled with all sorts of memories and it would be impossible to highlight all the individual interactions we had and specific memories we created with so many of you!  And so we bring you some of highlights of 2013 (in chronological order)!

1. First wine tasting panel
Aaron called this our first official winery event, which took place last winter.  The first tasting and feedback from our first commercial production straight from the tanks and barrels.  Major decision making on our blends and single varietals going on here before we bottled.  It all starts with good wine!

2. Building the Pavilion
I hesitate to say whether the "building" part of it was a highlight since it took many weekends, many county inspections, several cuss words, and lots and lots of timbers to complete.  

But once it was up...

It was pretty cool.

And due to it's commercial grade construction, the pavilion is now the soundest structure on our property.  Seriously.  

3. The house and landscaping transformation
It's hard to remember what our rationale was and how we came to make decisions the way we did, but last year we also got new windows, new siding, had a new car-garage put onto our farmhouse, converted the old garage into a new office, re-landscaped the house and the outbuildings, built two Bocce Ball courts, and put in four 12x20 foot garden beds by our house. This place looked a lot different a year ago!  All things that needed to get done and we figured let's just do them now to get this place looking tip-top. 

If you were to have come in April, the place was a disaster (remember it snowed in April/May)?  It delayed all of our projects a bit,  but we pulled off having most of the public areas complete by our opening in July. 

4. Putting up the sign
Eeeeek!  Aaron's Uncle Don delivered our custom made sign in June and we were finally able to put it out front.  No hiding now.  We're official. 

5. Bottling Day and Kare11 Visits
Both of which took place on our 4th wedding anniversary in June!  Kare11's Boua Xiong showed up right when we were getting the mobile bottling unit set up.  

It was kind of a thrill being all miked up and talking to Kare11 at a pinnacle turning point in our business--and then being on the 6pm news!  Aaron was a bit stressed out because the bottler wasn't working right away.  And we had, you know, 7000 bottles of wine dependent on this machine.  But it eventually came through.  

Good mobile bottler.  

This made it so real. 

Schram Vineyard's first vintages!

6. Opening day

Ribbon cutting.  Okay, now it is really official.
Also, I love that this picture with Aaron's wind pants ballooned out and his shoe laces untied made the local paper.  

Classy, Aaron.  His defense was that he thought it would be a "waist up" picture. 

Aaaand, apparently it wasn't.  

When we "opened the doors" our first day, it was so fun to see people show up and serve our very first customers!  A moment we had been thinking about for a long time and it was really happening!  

7. First Wedding
We hosted our first wedding!  This adorable couple called us in July and said they wanted to get married in August (after a 4 year engagement!) and just have a small ceremony and toast with our wines.  We made it happen and it was lovely and perfect and such a nice experience for our first wedding!  

8. Wine and Shoe Night
A long time dream of combining two of my passions.  

It was a hit! 

9. Cigar Rolling Night
Another fun event on a perfect September night.  It was such a fun group and a really cool atmosphere that night.  Everyone was relaxed and complimentary.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of memories created among friends that night. 

10. Bocce Ball 
It had always been a vision of ours to put Bocce Ball courts in.  I naively thought that to build a Bocce Ball court, all you had to do was screw together some boards and make a rectangle. Little did I know, it took excavation, leveling, proper drainage, and lots of landscaping to get them looking and working world class.  

Despite them being a bigger investment than we originally thought (I guess adding a second bathroom on our farmhouse will have to wait), we were thrilled with how they turned out.  

And even more thrilled to see people enjoying them!

Our inaugural Bocce Ball league confirmed we made the right decision putting them in.  Our diverse league was just the right combination of competition and fun.  And wine. 

11. Western Weekend
I don't actually have a lot of great pictures from this weekend.  Why, you ask?  Because after putting together a weekend full of music, a boot sale, line dancing demos, horse and wagon rides, and cowboy food truck, we found out that, um, none....and I mean none of our employees could work that weekend.  

Fortunately, my dear mother and her friend Karen, the brainchild of Western Weekend, stepped up to the plate.  

And wouldn't you go figure, that was our busiest day of the season!  We got slammed. Those ladies brought in some good tips that weekend!  

So it was just the four of us pouring wine like crazy that day!  And we made it. 

12. First Steps and First Birthday
As any mother could, I could fill up oodles of pages of highlights just on our kids, but thought I would throw in at least one kid highlight to this list to show that 2013 was a year filled of firsts not just for our winery, but for our family  as well.  And, of course to show once again that I am superwoman.  I am exhausted just looking at the pictures above and then remembering that I still nursed a baby until 10 months through it all while chasing around a two year old?   Exhausting as it was, I cherished moments with my babies and loved having our little ones around while getting this business off the ground.  Even though our shoulders got a little sore carrying an infant on our back all year. And even if we did have to apologize to a few customers when our two year old would run into them with his dirt bike.

You thought I was kidding when I said there was one excitement after another last year?  
"Aaah!  She just smiled!"
"Woohooo!  Our wine labels arrived!"
"Honey, she is sitting up!"
"Oooh! Our first case sale!"
"Honey, he went on the potty!!"
"Whoo wee!  Our Marquette wine won a SILVER MEDAL at the ICCWC!"

Our little miss took her first steps the first day of our harvest in September, a little over a month before her 1st birthday. 

Coincidence?  I think not.

This girl was anxious to pick grapes!

13. Bonfire
The bonfire harvest party has been a tradition since Aaron and I bought the property and moved here in 2008.  And it was fun to do it again last year as a public event, to close out our first season of Schram Vineyards.  

14. The New Friends
And perhaps the best and most pleasantly surprising highlight of last year was all the new people we met, the new friends we made, and the tremendous support  and positive feedback we received.  We had a lot of good times and good laughs. So many faces became familiar to us throughout our first season and it was incredibly humbling.  Our customers, friends, family, employees, volunteers, neighbors, and all and the people behind us are what making this venture a go and we are blessed to have so much support.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

No doubt 2014 will be full of more "firsts" and new exciting developments, but personally, I am hoping to get a little more sleep this year.   Just a little.