It takes a village to build a wine brand...
As partners in both business and life, we trust each other implicitly - even when we disagree. Ted is the Winemaker. I run the business, the art department, and do whatever I can to keep the wheels greased so that Ted can do what he does best. The beauty of this is that we do everything together with a synergy that has always come naturally for us. "Teamwork makes the dream work" is not just a catchphrase in our home. We live it. We breathe it. We hold true to its core principle because, when times have been particularly tough, it is part of what keeps us moving onward and upward. Bringing Solo Nostro to life has required a significant outpouring of patience, compromise, and reach outside of our comfort zones (sometimes feeling more adjacent to the seventh circle of hell TBH). To start a wine brand is not for the faint of heart and we would not have been able to make this dream happen without the incredible support of family, friends, and colleagues, old and new. Our "village" has grown and morphed into something beyond what we could have ever hoped and we are eternally grateful to everyone who has been right here with us as we continue on this journey. -D.S.
Finding Our Wine "Village"
To say this experience has been humbling is definitely an understatement. Ted's wholehearted (albeit sometimes manic and grumpy) commitment to "purity of fruit" and my innate sense for anticipating probability and risk management have formed the bedrock in our founding principles. We believe that are no compromises when it comes to quality, but we pivot to make the best of whatever life hands us at any given moment. That being said, Ted went from crushing thousands of tons each harvest to a mere fifteen, which required a bit of...recalibrating.
We walked into our first harvest with record heat waves and a prayer. Had you been watching us on the sorting table, you might have been reminded of Lucy & Ethel in the chocolate factory. It was insane, hectic, and very very sticky. Having our young kiddos by our sides in the vineyards and cellar, Ted's elder daughters supporting us along the way, and a whole host of people cheering us on made everything possible.
With our second harvest under our belts, it might be safe to say that we are out of the adjustment phase, but still working through the occasional growing pains. We have been lucky enough to assemble a team of colleagues and friends that have been an incredible source of information and expertise to provide the occasional assist on the sidelines and keep us rolling in our efforts to help our brand take flight. Here's the A-Z:
ALLEN WINE GROUP LLP (compliance) - For us, compliance is a little like HR. It is a behmoth task of epic proportions that requires a certain level of skill and detail orientation. No one really wants to have to do it, but you absolutely positively NEED it, particularly in the business of selling alcoholic beverages. Tim Allen, Teri Molini, and the team at AWG have been an integral part of helping us to expand our compliance knowledge and reach so that we can, you know, sell wine legally and so on and so forth. Our history with Tim goes back about a decade when he gave us some very sage advice that was a catalyst of sorts for how Solo Nostro eventually came to be. His intellect and candor are about as sharp as they come, and his team can keep up with the best of them.
BAYARD FOX SELECTIONS (winemaking supplies) - Over the course of Ted's career, he has encountered many salespeople from all walks of life, all of them trying to sell him anything and everything to do with making wine. Bayard Fox was one of those many people, but he's not your average saleperson. Although Ted didn't buy barrels from him on his first or second visit, he decided to give him a shot on the third. That was over twenty-five years ago. Cultured, confident, and extremely well versed in many subjects far beyond the scope of the wine world, he is the type of saleperson that you always look forward to seeing walk through your door.
GLOBAL PACKAGE LLC (wine bottles) - For anyone who has ever come into contact with Erica Harrop - Founder of Global Packaging - you could count it as a memorable experience. Erica is a serious force in the world of glass and packaging. Already an industry veteran working for other glass suppliers for several years, she then started Global on her own and has grown her business into one of the most successful bespoke glass suppliers in the biz. Her fierce determination, penchant for upbeat pragmatism, and cooler-than-a-crisp-cucumber-martini-on-a-scorching-day demeanor make her an absolute joy to work with, as well as someone you can rely on to get the job done...in time for bottling. Her Global team also deserves some serious kudos! They are a dream to work with!
OUR GROWERS - The beauty (and the challenge) of having a very small brand is that we have an opportunity to seek out some unique fruit sources. Growing grapes is not without its challenges, and we count ourselves as fortunate to work with some of the best growers in Sonoma County.
- John & Rochelle Berizzi - These two are the epitome of #couplesgoals. My goodness, they are as lovely and adorable as they are hard working and KIND. I also dare you to find a vineyard that is more beautifully manicured than theirs. Every time we get to see them, their warm, gracious welcome and steadfast commitment to quality make it the bright spot of our day/week/month.
- Cam Mauritson - Rockpile AVA is synonymous with the Mauritsons. Their depth of decades-long grower knowledge and experience in this region is legendary. They are faithful stewards of the land in the purest and most altruistic representation. Even with the challenges of climate change looming overhead, Cam carries on his family's legacy, and he does it well.
- Dave Mounts - Very few growers cultivate as many varietals in Dry Creek Valley as Dave Mounts and his family. Even fewer manage to do it with such gravitas. The fact that Dave is not only a winegrower, but also a winemaker serves even more valuable as a producer sourcing his grapes. It is an honor and a pleasure working a grower who is so dedicated to his craft.
- Kevin Skene - Kevin is such a gem. He is deeply committed to respecting the Earth and whatever he happens to be growing at any given moment - grapes, tomatoes, flowers - you name it. He is also innately full of the candor it takes to be a good farmer, and the kindness it takes to be a good human. His wealth of knowledge in the scope of growing great grapes is matched only by his vast knowledge of all-things Disney! Our kiddos look forward to seeing him as much as we do!
HERDELL PRINTING INC (wine labels) - Greg Mackie is the man who always has a plan....for anything and everything to do with wine labels. We have had the good fortune of working with Greg for upwards of thirty years and we will follow him wherever he goes. He is a true professional and a gentle soul. When we jumped headlong into designing our wine labels on the fly, he was right there with us, every step of the way, as a beacon of light and knowledge. The work that Greg and his small team of in-house artists do to bring the artistic vision to life on the bottle puts them in a class all their own. The fact that they have also been working tirelessly to process on time during increasingly challenging circumstances within the global supply chain makes them all the more extroardinary to work with, especially as a small producer.
VINIFY WINE SERVICES (our custom crush facility) - With Justin Lattanzio at the helm, Mike Natale managing many of the moving parts, and Travis Moore taking the Production reigns for Harvest and beyond, Vinify has been absolutely clutch in providing us with the perfect home away from home for our wine. Not only are they incredible craftsmen in their fields with resolute work ethics to match, but they are also a trio of awesome humans who inspire their team to keep moving upward. Their patience and guidance throughout the process of assimilating into a custom crush environment has been a critical part of our Solo journey. Harvest is crazy no matter how you slice it, and these three, along with their talented core team, manage to handle it with chill aplomb.
WELTY, WEAVER, & CURRIE (legal counsel) - Matt Welty, Jack Weaver, and Aaron Currie could stand amongst any of the great trios in history. They have the swashbuckling bravado of the Musketeers, the humor and charm of the Three Amigos, and fierce enough style points to rival Charlie's Angels. All three have played pivotal roles in laying the groundwork for our family brand and continue to offer aid in the background as we grow with each vintage. Rain or shine, no matter the type of counsel needed, they have your back, and their dedicated staff members are at the ready to help make it happen.
WINEDIRECT (website | e-commerce) - Anyone who knows us is well aware that neither of us have been officially schooled in developing or managing POS tools of the trade. Ted's tech skills stay in the Winemaking lane and, although I am fairly tech savvy with decades of experience using point-of-sales tools, I have never had the distinct (read: sometimes maddeningly frustrating) pleasure of building a web & e-comm hub geared to drive both content and sales management. This is where the remarkable, wonderful, unbelievably multi-talented Justin Chun comes in. The planets and stars were all aligned on the day I was assigned Justin Chun as my PM from WineDirect. His patience with my perfectionism (and crummy work-from-home-surrounded-by-trees wifi) has been a huge help in launching this site. He is an absolute rock star when it comes to the details of not only the logistics of getting a wine website up and running, but also the artistry of fine-tuning the DTC touch points for making meaningful connections with the outside world. The fact that he is a dog lover just puts him above and beyond in the bonus category.
Those we treasure most in this world -
The Family "Village"
Family is everything
This is not just a motto for a wall-hanging or a t-shirt. It is the real deal thing that allows us to reach for the stars while keeping our feet firmly grounded on Earth.
We have saved the best for last because this is a part of our life that flies in stealth mode. Our family (and the network of our chosen family of dear friends) has been an bottomless fount of support, love, kindness, and heaps of laughter. This vibrant collective has helped us make our way through not only the demanding schedule of our Solo project, but the deeper, more meaningful challenges of everyday life as we know it. They have supported us from day one. Whether it has been offering to watch the kiddos so we can work, acting as a sounding board for new ideas, or being first in line to buy our wine - many of them repeat defenders - they continue to remind us what life is all about. To say we are grateful doesn't begin to cover it. We are humbled. We are blessed. Our hearts are full. Our family and friends are pretty kick-ass.
Well, if you've managed to read all of the above, you've definitely earned the right to know that, by default, you are now part of our chosen family. We appreciate you, your time, and your willingness to dive into our orbit. Please don't be shy - keep in touch!
While we're here...
We would also like to thank the Golden State Warriors, SF Giants and SF 49ers for being our chosen sports "family." Watching your games can sometimes feels like trading one type of stress for another, but we wouldn't have it any other way! GO WARRIORS!! GO GIANTS!! Go 9ers!
- with much love, respect and, always, gratitude -
Dana & Ted
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