Releasing Esprit de Tablas and thinking about my dad
October 11, 2018
This is the time of year when we release the Esprit de Tablas and Esprit de Tablas Blanc. We've been doing this long enough to have a pretty consistent plan of attack each year. First, in late summer, we send our most recent vintage of the Esprits out to the club members who ordered futures en primeur the year before. Then, the Esprit wines form the centerpieces of our fall VINsider Wine Club shipments, which go out to members in early October. We show those wines to members at our VINsider shipment tasting party (which happened this past weekend) and look for a local event at which we can have them make their public debut (this year, it will be at our Harvest Festival dinner with the Cass House Grill in Cayucos).
Then, we turn our focus to the national market. I spend a good chunk of my fall getting in front of our distributors in key markets around the country; in the last few months I've made trips to Boston, Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington DC. I head to Chicago next week. Tomorrow I'll make the drive up to Santa Rosa and show the 2016 Esprits for the first time to Regal Wine Company, who represents us in California. In these presentations, I tell the story of Tablas Creek, remind people that the Esprit de Tablas wines are our flagship bottlings, and share the new vintage with the sales team, who will hopefully then take that message out to the right restaurants and retail shops they call on.
Last year, we realized that the story of Esprit de Tablas was really, in many ways, a distillation of the story of Tablas Creek. It seemed to me that the only appropriate voice to tell this story was my dad's. So, when I was in Vermont last summer, he and I sat down in front of a camera manned by my brother-in-law Tom Hutten, and spent an afternoon talking about how Tablas Creek came about.
When we were done, we had about two hours of footage, treasure troves of stories from my dad's 60+ year wine career. The multi-talented Nathan Stuart, whose primary role is to oversee our animal program, took off his shepherd hat and put on his videographer hat, and spent the next couple of weeks editing the relevant pieces of the story into a five-minute video that traces the development of the Esprit de Tablas, from my dad's perspective. I'll be showing this video tomorrow to our California distributor, and again next week in Chicago.
I didn't realize, when I went to put my presentation together, how much hearing my dad's voice would affect me, but I've been finding that a lot of the times I miss him most are when it sneaks up on me unexpectedly, and I hear him talking about Tablas Creek, and remember how much he loved working on all this. I will always feel lucky that I got to spend that time working with him, helping him make his dream of what Tablas Creek could be into reality.
Hopefully, the distributor teams I show this to over the next couple of weeks will find it inspiring, too. And hopefully, I'll make it through my presentation (most of which comes after this video) without choking up.