Happy Holidays from The Craig

Dear Craigers,

2020 is on its way out the door, but, like an unruly guest at a holiday party, might just manage to break the lamp in the foyer before being ushered into a waiting Uber outside.

In February and March I was concerned that this year might signal the end of our 30 years in business as a company as sales slowed to a halt, restaurants closed, and distributors furloughed (that’s a word I won’t mind seeing disappear from the everyday lexicon!) their sales representatives and managers. At Craig, we only have pockets as deep as our previous month’s, and year’s, financial performance. Like so many others around the globe in 2020, I lost friends unexpectedly, as well as my business partner, in the fall. Add to that the wildfires, and the loss of 80% of our 2020 crop, and, damn, that’s some hard medicine to choke down.

When people ask me how it’s going for us at the winery, I have the urge to say, “I feel like I’m tied naked to a sapling on a cold winter day while the winning team from the Piñata busting world championships relentlessly swats my testicles with whiffle ball bats.” Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and The Craig Abides. The vaccines are hitting arms all over the world, and we are selling a great deal more wine than I would have thought possible at the end of March. Our customers have supported us in so many ways that go well beyond purchasing our wines. I think the best thing about this year has been the unfiltered connection with so many of our long time customers, as well as new customers, whether masked at our salon, or on Zoom or FaceTime. Receiving a text with photos of caught fish, family occasions and fine cuisine alongside some RCW wine has made my day more times than I could count. Thank you!

The 2017 wines that were released this year in a closed and tannic state are opening and beginning to show their potential. Like 2015, the 2017 releases from our winery will require a bit more patience, but they are worth the wait. As many of you who joined our “Fabulous 15’s” Virtual Tasting experienced, those wines are a pure delight right now with lots more potential over the next 10 to 15 years. Our inventory of 2017 wines is giving way to the dark, classic and more welcoming (upon release at any rate) 2018 wines. I would place a sizable bet that the press will be more kind to the 2018’s from Napa Valley. I’m beyond excited to get the 2018 vintage into the market and on to the tables of our customers and friends. The wines remind me of another vintage, 1997; just a spot-on display of what made the Napa Valley famous for Cabernet Sauvignon.

As we collide with the holidays, since for Shelly and me they have come upon us suddenly somehow, we have so much to look forward to in the near future, but also a great deal to cherish in the now. With a lack of travel and more time on the bicycle along the coast here in Marin, I’m somehow twenty pounds lighter than at the same time last year, and I haven’t been taking it easy on the wine! We have two “bubble couples” with whom we share home cooked meals, movies and wines, and it is a treasured interaction outside of our own home. It has made me appreciate the relationships outside of my family even more. Then I think about the hard working people in our company who are succeeding despite headwinds, and I feel honored to call them partners in crime. Mountain wine production isn’t easy in the best of times, and 2020 has been a test, but I haven’t lost the joy of it all, and neither has anyone at Craig.

Bike overlooking the Golden Gate

Our gang on the mountain is wishing you all a safe passage through the end of the pandemic and a very happy holiday season, even if it’s a smaller one. The days will soon be longer and filled increasingly with light, but we are all in this right now together. Raise a glass toward Howell Mountain, and we will raise one back to you. Envision yourself looking out over a valley filled with vines while you lazily swirl a deep red wine in your glass and contemplate the tough decision on where to have a pre-dinner drink. We are here for you.

From Carlos, Jami, Kiersten, Adam, Jason, Christian, Connor, KC, Shelly and me: Peace and love and joy to you in the holiday season, and may mountain Cabernet find its way to your tables and hearts.