Saturday, August 25, 2012

Special Permit for Home Occupation Submitted

My faithful readers have probably noticed that I've been kind of quiet on the ol' blog this summer.  Lots of reasons--marriage plans, change in jobs, and just plain "it's summer, dang it!"  However, the biggest reason is that I've been marshaling forces for the next steps in opening the doors of Aaronap Cellars.  With the Fed & state permits under my belt, the next goal is getting permission from the town of Westford.

Actually, I have to give a lot of credit to the folks at town hall here in Westford.  They've actually been very pleasant & helpful to deal with.  They actually considered my proposal and didn't say "NO" immediately.  Instead, we've worked together to lay out a permit plan and they seem quite encouraging of my endeavor.  Cross my fingers that this relationship continues!

First step has been to submit a Special Permit for Home Occupation.  Since my home is in a residential zoning, a winery isn't exactly on the list of approved uses.  However, I'm not asking to open a full-blown winery with public tasting room, and have designed the winery to fit within the by-laws for an incidental home occupation.

No, we're not starting an Occupy Westford movement.  Basically this means that the winery will only take up 1/3 of the footprint of the basement and that no significant increase in traffic will occur.  Since a 500 gallon winery can't support a full-time tasting room and my sales will be through off-premise venues like farmer's markets, ag events, and retail outlets, I see no reason why I can't comply with those requirements.

I completed & submitted the special permit application this past week and am on the agenda for the Sept Zoning Board meeting.  Certified letters of announcement will be going out to my neighbors next week.  I'm intending to make the rounds of my neighbor in the next couple of days to introduce myself and the winery plan.  Hopefully, I'll be able to head off any strident objections, but we shall see what happens at the public meeting!


Wine Prices

I attended a special wine tasting last week that got me thinking about wine prices.  Several members of my AWS chapter trucked down to the Spirited Gourmet in Belmont, MA for a tasting of very high end wines from Gaja, a winery in the Piedmont region of Italy.

For those that haven't heard of Gaja, please do go to the link above for more information, as the Gaja family (particularly Angelo Gaja) has been an important force in promoting the Barbaresco wines of the Piedmont region to become world renowned for high quality.  If nothing else, the tasting was a fascinating historical lesson of the Piedmont region & the impact of one family on the region's growth in the wine industry.  Although Angelo got his start in Piedmont, he has since spread to other regions of Italy to produce an larger line-up of wines.

Gaja makes wine that has received numerous accolades from various wine reviews, including James Suckling formerly of Wine Spectator, who is known for his love of Gaja wines.  I would have to agree with James--the wines that I tasted were spectacular examples of Barbaresco wines.  As you would expect from very excellent wines that have received excellent reviews, these were not cheap wines.

The line-up of the evening:
2010 Gaja Rossj-Bass Chardonnay, Langhe region of Piedmont    $100
2006 Gaja Sori Tilden Nebbiolo, Langhe region of Piedmont         $500
2006 Gaja Costa Russi Nebbiolo, Langhe region of Piedmont       $500
2006 Restitua Brunello di Montalcino "Sugarille", Tuscany             $200
2009 Ca Marcanda "Magari" Bolgheri, Tuscany                            $85

I'll pause a moment and let you pull your jaw back up of the floor.  You read that right...I got to taste 4 wines priced >$100 and 2 that were priced at $500 a bottle.  All while standing around a small table in the back of a small wine store in Belmont, MA.

Folks, the Nebbiolos were probably the best nebbiolo wines from Piedmont that I've ever tasted.  Still very young, they could age for an additional 30-50 years.  Extremely well crafted--I was in awe.

However, $500 a bottle?????  Obviously, these wines are not aimed at the average wine consumer, but intended for the oenophiles who could truly appreciate these wines (and be a member of the 1% that could afford to purchase them).  Still, at what point does a wine truly deserve & command a price tag of $500?

Historical reputation definitely plays a part, as does supply & demand.  But I still doubt that I would ever be able to rationalize spending $500 on a bottle of wine.  What lofty event or meal would ever entice me to open it?  Would I actually ever consider sitting down on a Friday night in the year 2042 and opening that bottle--assuming I still senile enough to enjoy wine at age 71?

I leave it to my readers--what's your price points for wine?  Price for an everyday drinker vs that special occasion?  Do you have a bottle of wine planned for that 50th or 60th birthday, retirement day, grandchild's birth, or divorce/marriage?


p.s.  The main question I have is how to I manage to sell my wine for $500/bottle?  Heck, I'd settle for >$75!