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Life Through Wine-Colored Glasses:

A blog about Living the Wine-Life at Lake Chelan

By Vin du Lac Winery Owner and Winemaker Larry Lehmbecker

Vol 1. #1: January 2011
01/01/2011

What do you do to top a year in which you were named “Northwest Winery of the Year?”

 
Welcome to our new blog.  I’m supposed to write about our new website.  But I have a tendency to over-reflection this time of year.  Mere puffery about our new social media tools simply isn’t what I’m thinking about as the New Year dawns.  A year ago – before I knew VdL was the “Winery of the Year” – I had penned a melancholy tale of toil and tiredness, which in counterpoint also provided an uplifting paean to embracing the simple pleasures of life:  a solitary skate-skiing trip through blowing snow in early morning light on Echo Ridge, and the joy to be found in the smile of a pretty barista.
 
 
  Larry takes a joy ride.
This year, I have an even more melancholy tale to tell, having fractured my ankle Thanksgiving morning on my very first skate-skiing outing of the season.   But in this too I have found the silver linings:  I’m reading more.  I’m finding time to watch movies.  My chess game has improved to where I can occasionally beat the medium-hard computer setting without cheating.  My new little blue tag hanging from my mirror lets me park in the handicapped spots right next to the store.  I’ve even taken some joy rides in the funny electric cars they keep plugged in in the front of some stores.  No one seemed to know what to call them, so I aptly (though not so PC’ly) dubbed them “crip ships”.  It made it so much easier to demand one in an indignant, entitled way when I actually had a name for them.
 
But yes there is always toil and tiredness to complain of.  Our year of triumph has also entailed the usual humblings of the wine and hospitality business.  Two of our out-of-state distributors disappeared this year, taking thousands and thousands of dollars of unpaid inventory with them.  We made a big investment in the Bistro this fall to initiate dinner service and Saturday Jazz Nights, only to have our new chef implode two months into the project, taking half the kitchen staff with him.  We sigh, take the bad debt deduction, and start fixing things.  We’ve replaced the Florida Distributor already.  We’ll get the other one replaced soon.  My dear friend Hendrika Isensee – long-time owner of Capers Restaurant – stepped in to get us through our no-chef crunch, and under her deft hand it’s really taken off.  We celebrated her – and our – success the other day with one hell of a good New Year’s Eve Dinner party!
 
 
  “Les Amis” – “Friends”
So yes, 9 years in, I’m tired at times.  And how am I going to top “Winery of the Year”?
 
Maybe I won’t.  But I’ve been doing this long enough to know that I will find goodness and joy every day at Vin du Lac.  Sometimes it’s in our successes:  I remain driven to make the perfect wine someday – from Lake Chelan valley grapes.  But most of the time it comes from the wonderful group of friends I’ve been fortunate to gather along the way, and the great fun we have living the Lake Chelan Wine Life.
 
Another thing I penned last year was a VdL manifesto:  What we were about, how we got where we were, how we’d get where we were going.  I think I got it mostly right.  I’m going to repost it here, to remind myself how we’ve achieved whatever success we have, and to be up front about what you can – and should – expect of us:
 
My brief list, my brief philosophy of wine, life and love is this:
  • Make the best wine that you can.  Make it better every year.
  • Make the wines simply.  The most controversial and yet most enduring concept in wine is terroir – place.  Endeavor to evoke it.
  • Keep it affordable.  Most of our friends aren’t rich.
  • Honor your neighbors.  Your fellow winemakers and supportive community are your best marketers.
  • Be inspired, but don’t copy anything; let your heart and where you are – in the world but also in your life – guide you to something that is true to that place.
  • Remember what things are really important, and always try to make a place for all of them to come together:  Love, family, friends, community, good food and wine, music, laughter, children, dogs.
 
  Bottoms up!
I guess that’s all a bit lofty, or New-Agey or something.  As I said, I tend to over-reflection this time of year.  We will of course most of the time need to simply tend to the normal course of business activities.  So we’ve built a new website, and this new blog.  They are fun and useful tools to stay in touch with you.  We have a new bistro, which is very demanding at times, but gives us more opportunity to expand our support of the growing local music and food communities, and to showcase our wines.  We’ll continue to pursue market expansion, with the goal of bringing Lake Chelan wines to the world.
 
But at the end of the day, it really is true that all the work is simply about making sure that the bills all got paid, and that we still have enough time and juice left to enjoy kicking back on the patio or lawn with family and friends and toasting the good life – the Lake Chelan Wine-Life.
 
So here’s to that!  And Cheers for the New Year!  It’s going to be a great one.
 
Post By:   Larry Lehmbecker
 
 
 
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