Sage’s Vintage’s 6th annual Symposium took place June 22-23 in Nacogdoches. Titled “Crushing Boundaries,” the Symposium gave Sage’s Vintage clients and guests an opportunity to come together for education, goal setting, and comradery. Co-owners Wes Jensen and Michael McClendon hosted two days of worthwhile Texas wine content.
On Monday, June 22, Sage’s Vintage held an open house, wine tasting, and Q&A with Ron Yates of Spicewood Vineyards and Ron Yates Wines. These events took place at the newly expanded Sage’s Vintage custom crush facility located 10 miles north of downtown Nacogdoches.
The afternoon began with a tour of the expanded production facility for all the guests. The 2019 Sage’s Symposium was held in their new production building, but that same building that houses tanks now is small compared to the newly built production facility. The total production space now is 10,000 sq ft. Two newly delivered Charmat tanks will be used to make sparkling wine for wineries, and they also unveiled their new bottling line.
Wes and Michael spoke about the vineyards and how the upcoming growing season so far is looking good – knock on wood – and that Sage’s Vintage uses 28 different varieties of grapes from 30 different vineyard sites. Ron Yates gave the history of his two wineries and how those have expanded over the years including the information that they will be breaking ground for a new tasting room building at the current Ron Yates Wines location. Winery owners were then able to ask Ron questions about owning a winery.
The following day, guests filled a conference room at the lovely Fredonia Hotel. Attendees enjoyed a half-day seminar designed to provide tools to help wineries in their business journey.
First up, Valerie Elkins, Director of Membership at William Chris Wine Company, explained how wineries can improve their business through maximizing winery operations management, tracking key performance metrics, and optimizing the wine club. She provided several helpful forms, standard operating procedures documents, and examples of how to calculate profitability. She encouraged wineries to start thinking about future growth and develop sound business practices now.
Next, Daniel Pate of Apical Texas shared information about the 2023 season in the Texas High Plains. He is expecting good yields in 2023, similar to the 2021 growing season. Daniel shared his calculations on planted acres across the state (8,500) and productive acres (6,500). The presentation included his take on “what’s hot and what’s not” for Texas grape varieties. The “hot” varieties include Albariño, Chenin Blanc, Dolcetto, Grüner Veltliner, Mourvèdre, Picpoul Blanc, Petite Sirah, and Teroldego.
January Weise, Executive Director of Texas Hill Country Wineries, talked to the group about finding a tribe and hosting events. She shared stories from both the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and Texas Hill Country Wineries. No matter the size of the marketing budget, wine regions should collaborate and support each other. A rising tide lifts all boats! She explained opportunities for collaboration at the national, state, and local levels. Wine America lobbies for federal legislation. Statewide opportunities include Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association (TWGGA) and Texas Department of Agriculture’s Uncork Texas Wines. There are often many local business and marketing associations and convention bureaus that hold festivals and other events.
Finally, Amie Hendrickson of TEXSOM shared information about how entering wine competitions can benefit a winery’s business. She explained how carefully TEXSOM receives, verifies, and flights the wines for judging by a four-judge panel. Amie and other attendees brainstormed ways to highlight competition wins. She also shared how the TEXSOM conference showcases award-winning wine. The TEXSOM conference was also discussed. Dates for this year are August 27-29 in Irving.
Be sure to attend next year’s Sage’s Symposium!