Kosta Browne SV Offering

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Scott E.
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#1 Post by Scott E. » September 14th, 2015, 1:12 pm

I finally came up on the list and will be able to buy some single vineyard K-B pinots this week. However, I'm not so sure I really want to purchase. Can anyone tell me what to expect - will I get offered all wines, or just a few? For what it is worth, it was interesting to note that the Wine Spectator scores for the appellation wines equaled or exceeded those for the SV's (except for Kanzler and Pisoni). Yeah, I know, scores aren't everything, but it makes you wonder if the SV's are worth the extra bucks...
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#2 Post by Anton D » September 14th, 2015, 1:17 pm

Gotta try them and see.

There is some gambling involved in finding out which ones best match your palate.
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#3 Post by Bud Carey » September 14th, 2015, 1:29 pm

I suspect you'll get offered a few of the higher production wines first. Kosta Browne rewards people who purchase consistently.
Don't hesitate to wishlist any wines that you don't get allocated. You've got nothing to lose.

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#4 Post by AndrewH » September 14th, 2015, 1:52 pm

Bud Carey wrote:I suspect you'll get offered a few of the higher production wines first. Kosta Browne rewards people who purchase consistently.
Don't hesitate to wishlist any wines that you don't get allocated. You've got nothing to lose.

Disclaimer...
I've been buying Kosta Browne pinots since the 2002 vintage.
+1. When I first got an allocation of SVD wines it was small and for only one or two. A combo of wishlisting, expanded production, and so forth over several years my allocation is a lot larger and covers most of the wines with at least 1 or 2 bottles.

My recollection is you may not be able to wishlist for everything - I seem to recall that's limited too.
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#5 Post by Chris Seiber » September 14th, 2015, 3:21 pm

My first two times getting the fall SVD allocation, I only got three bottles of Gap's Crown (plus I think the Chardonnay used to be in the fall, probably not anymore).

Then my third fall offering (after buying the 3 Gap's Crown each of the prior two falls), I got offered Koplen, Keefer and Kanzler as well.

I'd say this - if you want to become a regular SVD buyer and eventually get the Ks, you probably need to buy what they offer you the next few years. Their allocation model is pretty much "you can buy up to as much as you bought last year," but that's a pretty pricey train to stay on. My last two orders from them scaled back some - I guess I'll see if my new allocations reflect them, and I expect they will.

As far as the wines themselves? The SVDs are not that different from the Sonoma Coast and RRV bottlings. They are maybe just a little "more" in terms of power and intensity, which may be a good thing or not a good thing depending on what you like, but it's a fairly subtle difference not a big one. I'm tending towards thinking that, given pricing and all, the SC and RRV probably give me about as much fun as the SVDs, and I'll probably make most of my purchases in the spring going forward.

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#6 Post by T. Melloni » September 14th, 2015, 3:36 pm

Chris Seiber wrote:...
As far as the wines themselves? The SVDs are not that different from the Sonoma Coast and RRV bottlings. ... I'm tending towards thinking that, given pricing and all, the SC and RRV probably give me about as much fun as the SVDs, and I'll probably make most of my purchases in the spring going forward.
I am leaning in this direction as well.
I have not found the RRV SVDs to be that distinguishable one from another (particularly Keefer and Koplen). Bottle pricing together with 2 day airfare has pushed the all-in cost close to the limit of my comfort zone for a bottle of wine.

As for the offering, my guess is as a first time buyer, you will see Gap's Crown, Kanzler, Keefer and perhaps Gary's and Giusti. Unlikely to be offered Pisoni. But that is all just a guess on my part.
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#7 Post by Vincent Chen » September 14th, 2015, 4:00 pm

I am also on the same boat first time and look forward to this very much.

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#8 Post by Chris Seiber » September 14th, 2015, 4:29 pm

I doubt it will ever happen for me, since none of my friends buy KB, but it would be interesting to do a blind tasting of different bottlings from recent vintages. I wonder if I would be able to tell which is which and whether I would prefer one over the other.

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#9 Post by Tim Burnett » September 15th, 2015, 12:00 am

I made the SVD list last fall for the first time, having bought appellations since the 07 vintage. I was offered Gaps Crown and Keefer.

Anyway, I've only had one SVD, but I thought that was noticeably different in body and concentration compared to the appellations – at least the Russian River and Sonoma Coast (I have yet to crack a SLH).

At least the appellations, while never the picture of restraint, are significantly lighter on their feet then, for instance, Aubert, Kistler, DuMol, R-M, etc. That is no doubt a low bar get under for many here, but it is nonetheless a distinction.

I will be cracking a 2012 SVD in the near future so I have a little extra data before I order the 13s, and I'll report back.
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#10 Post by Bud Carey » September 16th, 2015, 8:36 am

Didn't get my email yet, but allocations are live. Prices are up (again) to $90 per bottle from $84 last year.
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#11 Post by AndrewH » September 16th, 2015, 9:08 am

Bud Carey wrote:Didn't get my email yet, but allocations are live. Prices are up (again) to $90 per bottle from $84 last year.
Yep . . . , which is up from $78 two years ago.

I didn't see an option for wish-listing. Just me?

<edit> email received . . . they've moved up the order-by date by 2-3 weeks this year
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#12 Post by Bud Carey » September 16th, 2015, 9:15 am

I have wish list options on all wines offered. It might be an allocation tier thing... just guessing.
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#13 Post by AndrewH » September 16th, 2015, 9:26 am

Bud Carey wrote:I have wish list options on all wines offered. It might be an allocation tier thing... just guessing.
Ahh, now I see it. I think maybe the new website doesn't have the kinks fully worked out. The first time I clicked through I could only access the allocated wines, up to the max for me. Now, having clicked "purchase all my allocation" it brings up a second drop down for wish lists. (Obviously you can't wish list if you don't purchase all of a given wine).
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#14 Post by Bud Carey » September 16th, 2015, 9:40 am

Email is out. Allocations are guaranteed until October 6th.
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#15 Post by Andre M » September 16th, 2015, 9:44 am

First time buying this SVD and my allocation is only 3 bottles (2 gaps and 1 keefer).
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#16 Post by Paul Miller » September 16th, 2015, 9:51 am

Andre M wrote:First time buying this SVD and my allocation is only 3 bottles (2 gaps and 1 keefer).
Gap's is my favorite.

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#17 Post by Bud Carey » September 16th, 2015, 9:57 am

If you wish list a few and they're granted, your allocation will likely go up next year.
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#18 Post by B. Jenny » September 16th, 2015, 10:25 am

I get offered a lot since I am an original buyer but getting too expensive. $111 shipped in and I still have to travel to pick the wine up. Will just buy a few.
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#19 Post by Bud Carey » September 16th, 2015, 10:33 am

I feel your pain. I remember then the SVDs were less than $50, and the Sonoma Coast was $28.

However, we barrel tasted these last year, and they were stellar.
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#20 Post by Chris Seiber » September 16th, 2015, 11:05 am

Chris Seiber wrote:My first two times getting the fall SVD allocation, I only got three bottles of Gap's Crown (plus I think the Chardonnay used to be in the fall, probably not anymore).

Then my third fall offering (after buying the 3 Gap's Crown each of the prior two falls), I got offered Koplen, Keefer and Kanzler as well.

I'd say this - if you want to become a regular SVD buyer and eventually get the Ks, you probably need to buy what they offer you the next few years. Their allocation model is pretty much "you can buy up to as much as you bought last year," but that's a pretty pricey train to stay on. My last two orders from them scaled back some - I guess I'll see if my new allocations reflect them, and I expect they will.
So, last year, I bought 2 Koplen, 1 Keefer, 2 Kanzler. My allocation this year? 2 Koplen, 1 Keefer, 2 Kanzler. Plus 1 Rosella.

One thing I love about KB is the detailed data sheets on every wine they make. Alcohol, PH, TA, % destemmed, new oak %, length of time in barrel, harvest date, cold soak time, etc. etc.

Interesting to see the 2013 Koplen at a sprightly 14.3% alcohol and 3.57 pH. Cohn Vineyard at 13.4%. Gap's Crown 14.3%. These are definitely not the early years KB style, though of course they're not AFWE either.
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#21 Post by Alan Eden » September 16th, 2015, 11:09 am

I also made svd list this year, guessing the have had a lot of dropoff.

I do like the wines but over a c note delivered is getting high for any Cali pinot, i might be generalising but i dont see the complexity for this level of pricing. Also why do they think its ok to increase by $6 every year ? At this price you are at Saxum and Monte bello future prices and i dont see it. In fact Saxum is 10% cheaper
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#22 Post by Mark Y » September 16th, 2015, 11:17 am

First time making SVD list.. 2 gap, 1 keefer..

but over $100 per bottle after tax/shipping.. pass.. I'll take a Barolo/Burg at those prices. :(
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#23 Post by T. Melloni » September 16th, 2015, 11:21 am

For me, the all in cost raises per bottle pricing to about $105.
I plan to curtail some of my wine purchasing and sadly, I think this will be one offering I will pass on. I hope that helps some first-timers to have wish lists granted.

I know KB provides some detailed data sheets on the wines but I have not seen production levels. Anybody know this years production levels?
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#24 Post by mmoyer » September 16th, 2015, 11:48 am

According to the WS reviews in August:

Gap - 2481 cases
Kanzler - 665
Cohn - 60
Giusti - 949
Keefer - 1385
Koplen - 537
Gary - 493
Pisoni - 132
Rosella - 549
4 Barrel - 89
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#25 Post by Jeffrey Kahn » September 16th, 2015, 12:23 pm

I ordered my allocation of eight because it's a wine my wife never complains about but I get wistful remembering the days when I would buy this stuff in the 60s.

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#26 Post by AndrewH » September 16th, 2015, 12:32 pm

Alan Eden wrote: Also why do they think its ok to increase by $6 every year ?
Private equity?

They're evidently exploring what the market will bear . . . presumably with a long waiting list people passing will allow them to find out just how eager those others are. As much as I like the wines (while choking on the price) it wouldn't surprise me if there's a lot of movement on the waitlist as others say "oh, now that I'm getting an allocation it's $90++? thanks no".
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#27 Post by Bud Carey » September 16th, 2015, 12:52 pm

... and I wouldn't blame them one bit.
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#28 Post by Tim Burnett » September 16th, 2015, 12:52 pm

Price increase is frustrating, and I wouldn't consider Saxum pricing while making a KB buying decision. But Saxum is currently $98 plus tax, or roughly $103 all in. KB charges for shipping, but it still won't exceed Saxum, at least not to the Midwest.
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#29 Post by YacobovE » September 16th, 2015, 12:53 pm

AndrewH wrote:
Alan Eden wrote: Also why do they think its ok to increase by $6 every year ?
Private equity?

They're evidently exploring what the market will bear . . . presumably with a long waiting list people passing will allow them to find out just how eager those others are. As much as I like the wines (while choking on the price) it wouldn't surprise me if there's a lot of movement on the waitlist as others say "oh, now that I'm getting an allocation it's $90++? thanks no".
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#30 Post by Paul Miller » September 16th, 2015, 1:01 pm

mmoyer wrote:According to the WS reviews in August:

Gap - 2481 cases
Kanzler - 665
Cohn - 60
Giusti - 949
Keefer - 1385
Koplen - 537
Gary - 493
Pisoni - 132
Rosella - 549
4 Barrel - 89
Wasn't given chance to Wishlist the 4 Barrel newhere

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#31 Post by Scott E. » September 16th, 2015, 1:09 pm

First-time offer of 2 Gap's, 3 Giusti, 1 Keefer. Even if I buy the entire allocation, I cannot wish-list other wines in the SV lineup.
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#32 Post by Craig Roush » September 16th, 2015, 1:42 pm

I got my first time offer as well, and I'm on the fence. I have really scaled back purchases, essentially passing on every mailer this fall. But, I plan on getting back in the game next year and think I might want to have this as an option again when my purchases go back up. Decisions, decisions.

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#33 Post by Chris Seiber » September 16th, 2015, 1:51 pm

AndrewH wrote:
Alan Eden wrote: Also why do they think its ok to increase by $6 every year ?
Private equity?

They're evidently exploring what the market will bear . . . presumably with a long waiting list people passing will allow them to find out just how eager those others are. As much as I like the wines (while choking on the price) it wouldn't surprise me if there's a lot of movement on the waitlist as others say "oh, now that I'm getting an allocation it's $90++? thanks no".
This is pretty much what has happened with most lists that have a significant wait in the last 10-15 years. By the time you get on, the prices have climbed to the point that there is not that much value, if any, in buying off the list.

KB still does sell off the list at a lower price than you can buy at retail. Low WS Pro for recent vintages of Keefer is $115, Cohn is $125, Gary's is $120, Kanzler is $125, and of course that's the low, so everyone else is higher. I'm not suggesting anyone ought to value them at those prices, or at $90, or at all, but KB is one of the relatively small number that still sells you the wines for meaningfully less than you could buy at retail, so I give them a little credit for that.

As far as price increases, they haven't gone as nuts as it probably sounds. The 2007 Sonoma Coast and RRV pinots were $52, and the 2013s were $64. That's about a 3.5% annual rate of increase (the rate is probably higher if you go back to the earliest years, though - I don't know what the release prices were back then). Again, whether you think they're worth $64, or $52, or anything, is totally up to you. But the price increases, while consequential, haven't been too crazy.

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#34 Post by mattcitrang » September 16th, 2015, 1:58 pm

A LWS in my area is selling 2013 single vineyard bottling so for $145 a bottle.

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#35 Post by AndrewH » September 16th, 2015, 3:09 pm

YacobovE wrote:
AndrewH wrote:
Alan Eden wrote: Also why do they think its ok to increase by $6 every year ?
Private equity?

They're evidently exploring what the market will bear . . . presumably with a long waiting list people passing will allow them to find out just how eager those others are. As much as I like the wines (while choking on the price) it wouldn't surprise me if there's a lot of movement on the waitlist as others say "oh, now that I'm getting an allocation it's $90++? thanks no".
This was PE owned before the most recent transaction...
True, although different PE firms may have different strategies for generating returns.
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#36 Post by Chris Seiber » September 16th, 2015, 3:37 pm

I wonder how much it matters who the equity owners of the winery. You have wines that are "worth" (in the economist's sense of worth - i.e. what buyers are willing to pay) $120-150 each, and you were selling them for $84 last fall.

I think probably any owners, whether it was Evil 1%er Wall Street Gordon Gecko types, or salt of the earth American Gothic mom and pop family who had toiled in those vineyards for three generations, would probably be raising the price. Don't you think?

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#37 Post by S.Homewood » September 16th, 2015, 5:50 pm

Anyone have an idea how long it takes to get offered Cohn or 4-Barrel?

This is my second or third time buying the SVDs, still no Cohn, Pisoni or 4-Barrel. I am buying about 10-12 bottles per allocation period.
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#38 Post by Tom Lee » September 16th, 2015, 6:28 pm

S.Homewood wrote:Anyone have an idea how long it takes to get offered Cohn or 4-Barrel?

This is my second or third time buying the SVDs, still no Cohn, Pisoni or 4-Barrel. I am buying about 10-12 bottles per allocation period.
You will never get offered the 4-Barrel. Seriously.

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#39 Post by C Prince » September 16th, 2015, 7:01 pm

Ok I guess it must be that I wore my ruby red shoes today and clicked them just right but in my offer today, I got an allocation to buy one 4 Barrel. We've been on the list since about 2004 and have been mostly steady buyers.
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#40 Post by T. Melloni » September 16th, 2015, 9:33 pm

An offering of a new release is a good opportunity to check on a prior vintage.
Opened a 2012 KB Keefer Ranch Pinot and shared with friends.

Pop and pour and served after dinner and without food.
Big, rich, ripe fruit. Red berries, ripe cherries and a spicy core that helps keep the wine focused. Moderate acidity. Enough acidity to help it from becoming candied. Guests enjoyed it. Well made, albeit in a riper, richer profile. The spice element keeps me going back to the glass for me. Quite enjoyable.
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#41 Post by AndrewH » September 17th, 2015, 6:52 am

Chris Seiber wrote:I wonder how much it matters who the equity owners of the winery. You have wines that are "worth" (in the economist's sense of worth - i.e. what buyers are willing to pay) $120-150 each, and you were selling them for $84 last fall.

I think probably any owners, whether it was Evil 1%er Wall Street Gordon Gecko types, or salt of the earth American Gothic mom and pop family who had toiled in those vineyards for three generations, would probably be raising the price. Don't you think?
The first question is whether the incentives for profit maximization are the same across different owners.
The second question is the time horizon for profit maximization (put differently, what's the future discount value for the given owner).

PE vs. mom and pop - Former likely to have stronger incentives for profit maximization over pursuing other goals, such as reputation. Also may have higher discount value because goal may be to increase short term revenues at expense of losing long term customers, with goal towards making stake more attractive to future buyer.. But that's a trickier question, and given that Childs apparently has a personal interest and friendship with Kosta-Browne may not apply in this situation.

But, as you pointed out above, overall the price increases have occurred at a relatively modest rate when smoothed over time. Although the SVDs have increased at nearly 7.5%/year over the last two.
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#42 Post by Tim Burnett » September 17th, 2015, 9:01 am

I think there are a lot of variables in what drives the value of a winery like KB, including mailing list size and recent purchasing history. I also don't know who the eventual target buyer would be or what the larger strategy is, but I would doubt the plan is to own KB as it is for longer than 6-8 years.
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#43 Post by ericleehall » September 17th, 2015, 9:23 am

I've been buying their wines directly since 2003 (the 2001 Vintage) and I don't think I've over been offered the 4 barrel..

Michael Browne gave me one once, and it was very nice tho..... ;-)
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#44 Post by Chris Seiber » September 17th, 2015, 9:29 am

AndrewH wrote:
Chris Seiber wrote:I wonder how much it matters who the equity owners of the winery. You have wines that are "worth" (in the economist's sense of worth - i.e. what buyers are willing to pay) $120-150 each, and you were selling them for $84 last fall.

I think probably any owners, whether it was Evil 1%er Wall Street Gordon Gecko types, or salt of the earth American Gothic mom and pop family who had toiled in those vineyards for three generations, would probably be raising the price. Don't you think?
The first question is whether the incentives for profit maximization are the same across different owners.
The second question is the time horizon for profit maximization (put differently, what's the future discount value for the given owner).

PE vs. mom and pop - Former likely to have stronger incentives for profit maximization over pursuing other goals, such as reputation. Also may have higher discount value because goal may be to increase short term revenues at expense of losing long term customers, with goal towards making stake more attractive to future buyer.. But that's a trickier question, and given that Childs apparently has a personal interest and friendship with Kosta-Browne may not apply in this situation.

But, as you pointed out above, overall the price increases have occurred at a relatively modest rate when smoothed over time. Although the SVDs have increased at nearly 7.5%/year over the last two.
Good points, the time horizon on the ROI can be different depending on the ownership. As far as moving pricing up to reflect market demand, you see that from a John Alban, Tom Dehlinger or Kevin Harvey too. That's not a criticism of any of those three in the least - they make good products that people will pay a lot of money for, and they deserve the money they can get for them. But I can imagine that if Alban had been owned by some PE group or had been bought by a large corporation, many people would have perceived those same big price hikes in a very different and less favorable way.

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#45 Post by AndrewH » September 17th, 2015, 10:58 am

Chris Seiber wrote:
Good points, the time horizon on the ROI can be different depending on the ownership. As far as moving pricing up to reflect market demand, you see that from a John Alban, Tom Dehlinger or Kevin Harvey too. That's not a criticism of any of those three in the least - they make good products that people will pay a lot of money for, and they deserve the money they can get for them. But I can imagine that if Alban had been owned by some PE group or had been bought by a large corporation, many people would have perceived those same big price hikes in a very different and less favorable way.
If nothing else, we don't have enough information yet under new ownership to see if the rate of price increase has increased. Prior to last year it had been a bit fitful, but overall consistent over time. So, hard to say whether increases are a "normal" response to market demand and cost drivers or different pricing philosophy.

(BTW, my question mark after "private equity" that triggered this discussion was partly an indicator of jest, and also to note I wasn't sure thta was a driver, although I think it's a reasonable question to ask.)
Andrew H e i m e r t

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#46 Post by BLittle » September 17th, 2015, 1:10 pm

i've been buying since the '03 vintage and just got my first 4 Barrel offer

I still buy about a case a year because of the consistency, great folks and my non-wine geek friends love when we share
Brett Cyril Little (AKA BC)

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#47 Post by Jody Smith » September 17th, 2015, 7:30 pm

ericleehall wrote:I've been buying their wines directly since 2003 (the 2001 Vintage) and I don't think I've over been offered the 4 barrel..

Michael Browne gave me one once, and it was very nice tho..... ;-)
2001 and you're not in the LOD mafia?!

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#48 Post by Evan Pontoriero » September 17th, 2015, 8:12 pm

Well the fruit prices are going crazy. Latest rumor was 9K/ton for Gaps so right there you have a $90 wine. We bailed from a vineyard where our contract went from 4.2K to 6.2K after the older contract expired. BAH! $6. Imagine asking my clients to swallow a $20 YOY price increase.
Fogline Vineyards
Petaluma Gap

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#49 Post by Scott Jameson » September 18th, 2015, 6:17 am

Speaking of the KB 4 Barrel ... If your allocation was reduced last year, was it restored to the previous amount this year ?

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#50 Post by Chris Seiber » September 18th, 2015, 6:52 am

Who has had a 4 barrel? How was it? Does it shine above their other wines?

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