The Job of a Wine Buyer - Value Showdown

As a small business, one of the perks of my job is that I don't have the big "corporate hand" guiding my decisions, in particular when it comes to what we carry on our shelves. We can do whatever fits our brand and makes the most sense for our shop and our customers. 

We pride ourselves on carrying wine that isn't uber mass marketed ( you can find a lot of the wines we carry at other stores near us but you probably won't see giant displays and iron ponies and other crazy fanfare around them). It's our job to take the wines that don't have a huge marketing budget behind them, taste, find the best wine for the money, and tell their "story" to you. It's our job to be their billboard or fancy display. 

In an effort to shake things up a bit and really take a stand for value, we have decided on a new value challenge! Over the next two weeks I am going to be tasting (i know, i know....its a tough job but someone has to do it), many wines in the $7 - $14 range. We will be stripping our value racks clean and launching a whole new program of value wines that fit the bill. 

Criteria will be wines that deliver flavor, are varietally correct (meaning they taste like what they are suppose to taste like), and hold up after they are opened. Wines that WOW! Because we could all use a few extra dollars in our pockets and we all want to drink wine - am I right?? We will make our selections and our entire staff will taste and become familiarized with these wines to better serve you. You won'f find that to be the case in any big box stores I can assure you. 

We will unveil our new line up of value wines Oct 1! Stay tuned! In the mean time.... I need to get to tasting. 

Cheers!

Tatjana

Meza Travels: Willamette Valley - Highlight on Chehalem Winery

For those of you who have been following along on Instagram, Jason and I had the opportunity for a short but much needed getaway to Oregon Wine Country! It has been on our list for a while and we finally decided to make it happen. We have been to Napa/Sonoma before and we just love Sonoma, but Oregon  has earned a special place in our hearts! Such nice and friendly people and a very laid back, non pretentious approach to wine. In fact I can't think of one stop we made where we felt any sort of pretense ( which can happen in the wine world). 

We were able to stay at the lovely guest house at Chehalem ( a comfy and breezy craftsman style house where vineyard interns stay during harvest), and had an awesome experience with their wines. We met with Jon Foster, from the Chehalem team, for a tasting and tour of the winery, and got to walk through and explore the vineyard ourselves. We briefly got to meet owner Harry Peterson -Nedry and his daughter Wynn Peterson - Nedry  who is now the wine maker - both nothing but friendly and gracious. 

First and foremost, one of the most impressive things about the winery was its commitment to sustainability. Chehalem is LIVE Certified ( Low Imput Viticulture and Eonology) and a participant in Carbon Neutral Challenge. You will find solar panels in the vineyard that provides some degree of their power. All weed control is done by hand - no chemicals. You can tell from looking at the site that the vines are growing in a very healthy, thriving environment. I think you cannot help but feel good about what you are consuming when it's made in this manner. I am always a little perplexed when people spend so much time thinking about eating fresh, organic food but don't think of the wine they consume in the same manner. 

On to the wines themselves! We have for quite some time stocked the Chehalem Three Vineyard Pinot Noir - their largest distributed Pinot. We were able to taste some of their gorgeous white wines as well, from their Coral Creek Vineyard Riesling that was juicy and crisp and mineral driven to their Ridgecrest Vineyard Gruner Veltliner that had a freshness and brightness to it but was also a slightly more complex, richer style than some Gruners.  The Pinot Gris also stood out due to its richer, Alsatian style.

Fruit is sourced from three vineyard sites - Coral Creek vineyard which surrounds the winery (what is pictured here).  Stoller Vineyard featured Jory Soil ( a term we heard often in this area), a red volcanic soil that lends itself to Pinot Noir that has both a balance of fruit and earthiness. Finally Ridgecrest Vineyard, known for producing richer, briary style of Pinot Noir  due to its silt and sandstone soils is the last of the three vineyards utilized. 

We loved our experience and the wines of Chehalem, and loved the laid back, friendly, and inviting nature of the people we met. Always makes me feel like I am at home or at Meza when I talk to people from a winery and they really have a team and family focus and mentality. 

Look for more offerings from Chehalem to be hitting the shelves at Meza soon! Stay tuned for our recap of other wineries we visited and our tips on exploring the Willamette Valley!

Cheers!

Tatjana

On Southern Italian Wine and Breaking Out of our Comfort Zone

I just gave our team a little homework this week, and if you know me, the homework for the shop is always enjoyable. After all, it involves drinking wine!

I was putting together our wine club packs for this month which feature wines from Southern Italy, mainly Campania and Puglia. We have so many red lovers on our team and I thought, this is a great option for them to learn a little more about this region and to enjoy wines that fit their palate. We all get stuck in a comfort zone with lots of things in life....the food we eat, with our workouts, with our personal style. Same goes with wine. Its so easy to grab a bottle of Cabernet because we know what it is and we see it everywhere. We may gravitate towards a Zinfandel - now knowing how similar (and related) a Primitivo is. Its my job to get people drinking outside of the box and learning about wine and thats totally what we are doing this week!

Next time you head into the wine shop or to your local wine retailer, ask a couple questions and have the staff find you something new. Its fun and interesting and there is something so cool about tasting a wine from half way across the world and learning about it that makes you feel like maybe you would want to go there someday.  If you don't have time for all that jazz and you live locally, then hit us up about wine club and get the adventure chosen for you each month. Trust us, you will be pleasantly surprised at how your palate and your list of favorite wines grows.

Cheers!

Tatjana

Seven Years Later.....What I Have Learned About Owning a Small Business

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is Meza's 7th anniversary since we opened the doors! In some ways it has flown by and in other ways it's hard to remember what it was like prior to Meza being open, seems like it has been around forever. Being a small business owner has been one of the most challenging, rewarding, tumultuous, un nerving, and exciting things I have ever done. I feel like we are constantly learning something new everyday, and gaining more and more footing with each passing year. We don't know exactly what the future holds for us and we hope that Meza will continue to evolve and grow. Just a few thoughts on what I feel like we have learned with this experience. 

1. Passion and stubborn pride helps get you past the difficult times.

There have been so many times that things have been hard during the last seven years. In particular, early on when we first were getting things up and running and were uncertain of our exact direction. I have to say what I truly believe keeps us at it during those times has been sheer determination due to our stubborn pride. Not wanting to give up because we made this decision and we were going to see it through no matter what. No one wants to fall on their face, right? However, our passion for wine, for small business, for the community and for our family has also been continued fuel. It is what makes the hard stuff seem so worth while.

2. You cannot be everything to everybody.

This is coming from a not very thick skinned person who has had to learn this over and over again. With starting a business, you are in a sense putting yourself out there. Your ideas, your passions, and your "trials and errors" out there for everyone to see but also for customers to "experience".  There will be suggestions and conversation around which direction you should take your business. I think it is vital to any business to adapt and change as the world around them changes, and to listen to what customers are telling you. But you cannot be everything to everybody. You cannot be a destination for everyone. While it is good to embrace change and adapt, its also SO very important to stay true to your passions. You may end up with a slightly smaller customer base but what you are able to offer those customers will be that much greater.

3. Surround Yourself with Passionate People Who Truly Care About Your Business

One of the hardest things I have experienced with running Meza was learning how to work by myself. No boss to give you guidance. No co workers to pat your back and tell you it was a job well done. It really becomes about believing in yourself, having conviction in your decisions and knowing that if something doesn't work out, you try different avenues until you see results. Well, that is a lot of damn work! However, no one can do it all themselves. It literally takes a village. We have had to lean on so many friends, babysitters and family members for support.  I have been so lucky to have found people to team up with that are truly as passionate about Meza as we are. Leaning on them for their areas of expertise and knowledge has been key. Knowing when to let go has been important. Finding just anyone to fill a gap is not going to work. It is so personal. Finding people that are just that perfect fit is what makes a business like ours run and what keeps us afloat.

4. How do you measure success? Its all about tradeoffs

Success is a hard thing to measure. Maybe its how much money you make. Or what title you carry at your job. Maybe its the benefits you receive from your particular employer. Maybe its time and flexibility with your family and your schedule. 

My friend and I always have this conversation. There are tradeoffs in life. It is easy to be envious of someone elses paycheck or status. Or to wish you could strike off on your own. There have been days where I have played the "what if" game, thinking where I would be now in my career had I chosen a different path. How much money would I be making now? Those are the days I have to take a minute to really look at what Meza means to our family. I see all the amazing people I have met through this experience, people that have become like family to us,  and to look at the flexibility it has allowed me with my kids to know that success has many different forms and life is all about tradeoffs. 

So there it is. The little bit that seems to resonate with me on a day to day basis. Jason and I are so grateful for the last seven years and we look forward to continuing to grow Meza and to continue to develop it as a unique wine destination. Thanks to all those who have been a part of the journey!

Cheers!

Tatjana