||Welcome to the Coach’s Corner. Here I look forward to sharing my stories with you as I travel, share my love of wine and meet new friends along the way. I hope you truly enjoy your Vermeil Wines experience and check back soon for my updates in the Coach’s Corner.
Coach's Corner Archive
June 7, 2013
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
I’m on a plane flying home from a three-day trip into Kansas City to play in Trent Green’s (my KCC all pro QBK) Ronald McDonald House charity golf tournament on Monday June 3rd. People who know me know that I don’t seek golfing opportunities, but since Trent came out and played in my Chester County Boy Scout tournament last year, I thought it was only right to support his. It was a very successful charity event kicked off with a pairings party Sunday evening before the Monday tournament. Sharing time with Trent Green is always a very positive experience for me, and even though our foursome finished next to last with a two-under, it was fun. I didn’t help very much!
Carl Peterson, a VWG partner, and his wife Lori still live in KC, so we were able to spend some quality time together, starting with a great dinner with Nabil and Peggy Haddad at the Plaza III Steak House. Great friends and a great restaurant!
I stayed over an extra day in KC to host a Vermeil Wine Group Dinner on Tuesday night at Louie’s Wine Dive
, located at 7100 Wornall Rd. in Kansas City, MO (816-569-5097). Owners Whitney Vinzant, Aaron Shields and Corey Gonzalez were in attendance to help their staff host this very first ever wine dinner in their new restaurant. Good people who are very passionate about what they are doing! Louie’s is one of three restaurants in their organization. They specialize in smaller neighborhood restaurants that present quality food and wine at prices affordable to the local neighborhood clientele. Kitchen manager and chef Jaci Shelay does an excellent job. You can see by looking over the wine dinner menu shown here that she really knows what she is doing.
A group of forty people paid $75 each to enjoy this menu supported by our wines. The pairings were very good. As I said, Jaci knows what she’s doing. All the wines received positive evaluations, but as has been the case in other similar dinners, our Cab Franc seemed to be the #1 crowd pleaser. A number of people purchased wines to take home, so I know they were impressed. I’ll be surprised if we don’t gain a new wine club member out of this group.
Rod Crawford and George Vial of Major Brands, our KC distributors, gave up an evening of their time to be there and support their VWG interest. Thank you guys!
Before attending the wine dinner, I spent the day with Andy Reid over at the KC Chief facilities. They were in the first day of their final three-day mini camp. I hadn’t been back in the practice facility and coaches’ offices since I retired in January 2006, so it was a really fun day. Their new facilities are really well done! What a big improvement! My first impression of the 2013 KC Chief team was very good. I’m optimistic! They only won two games last year, so it won’t be difficult to improve on that record. I think under their new leadership team, they could end up in the play off race. I always pull for Andy Reid to do well. A great person, a great coach! Go Chiefs!
May 1, 2013
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Carol and I flew into Kansas City to invest a few days in our KC wine market; to do a favor for Mike Jones, my Ram linebacker and head coach at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO; and to help Carol’s favorite charity, Operation Breakthrough
, raise money at their annual banquet. Believe it or not, we got it all done too!
A representative of Major Brands, George Vial, picked me up at our old condo – believe it or not, it still hasn’t sold -- and he drove me over to the Plaza III restaurant about two blocks away to meet with five wine buyers from five different restaurants and retail shops: Willi Loth, Wine Steward for Plaza III
, 4749 Pennsylvania Ave., KC, MO 64112 (816-730-0000); Eric Willey, GM and Sommelier for Blue Stem
restaurant, 900 Westport Rd., KC, MO 64111 (816-561-1101); Tyler Banker, GM of M & S Grill
at 4646 J C Nichols Parkway, KC, MO 64112 (816-531-7799); Brooke Silvey, Assistant GM La Bodega Tapas Lounge
, 703 Southwest Blvd, KC, MO 64108 (816-561-1101), and also in Leawood, 4311 West 119th St, Leawood, KS 66209 (913-428-TAPA); and Jodi Dyer, Sommelier/Wine Supervisor for Lukas Liquor Superstore
, 1365 Washington St., KC, MO 64145 (816-942-8523). They were all there to greet me as I walked in, and I might also add, they were ready to taste! George and I poured our 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Cab Franc, 2009 Proprietary Red XXXIV, 2010 Frediani Zin and 2009 JLV Cab. All wines poured were enthusiastically praised, but the Cab Franc and Zin really surprised them. Each representative said they look forward to adding these wines to their respective wine lists within the next few weeks.
From there, we stopped by the Grand Street Café
to pour for owner Rick Ghiardi, a very respected person in the restaurant business in the Plaza area. Rick tasted all our products, expressing great appreciation for Paul Smith’s work. Rick plans to add at least three of our wines to his current list, as well as on the list of the new restaurant his wife is going to open in the near future. A good stop, a great person with a sincere respect for the quality of our wines, plus he is an old personal friend of one of my son’s good friends, Kevin Scanlon. What a small world! The Grand Street Café
is located at 4740 Grand Ave., KC, MO (816-561-8000). It looks like a place we will come back to and host a Vermeil wine dinner sometime this year.
Next, it was time for me to be handed off to Mark Acuff of Major Brands and head out to Lee Summit to pour wine at the Red Door wine store
. Katelyn and Tony Marlow are a young couple that opened up this shop a few years ago, and it has really taken off. It is located at 229 A SE Main Street in Lee Summit, MO 64063 (816-600-2204). Really nice people! Easy to see why business is good and their wine club members enjoy coming in there. Within an hour and fifteen minutes, we were sold out of 10 cases of our wines, plus sold an additional four cases, which I dropped by Major Brands on Thursday to sign. We had two cases of each JLV / XXXIV / Cab Franc / Frediani Zin and Sauvignon Blanc when we started and it went fast. It appeared to me that the favorite of the night was the Cab Franc. Thank you Katelyn and Tony Marlow. We will be back!
Now for a fun pit stop. Mark drove me back to my condo so I could re-group and go over to see Andy Reid, KC’s new head coach. He lives within four blocks of our condo. We had a great two-hour visit and it was really easy to see he was fired up and very excited about his new opportunity. He’s the right guy at the right place. Go Chiefs!
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
On Wednesday, Lynn Stiles, a former assistant coach and administrator of mine at every major coaching stop I made, picked me up and we headed to Jefferson City, MO to help Mike Jones, our former St. Louis linebacker, raise money for his football program at Lincoln University. As it turned out, the experience was much bigger than a fundraiser. I ended up being invited to come over to the capital building and speak to both the House of Representatives (400+ strong) and the Missouri Senate. It was an interesting experience, and it gave me a chance to thank them for what they have done for both the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.
Following both appearances we headed over to a reception for the major donors to the fundraising event. I was pleased to see they were pouring our wines (XXXIV /Cab Franc / Zin and Sauvignon Blanc). They were very well received, and there were a lot of nice comments about Paul Smith’s wine-making abilities. From there we went across campus to a large tent set up in the middle of the football field. I estimate 250-300 people were in attendance, and they all came to have a good time. Good food, great music, a lot of auction items and a variety of gambling tables – therefore, the reason for the evening title – Casino Night. Lynn and I helped the best we could, and then snuck out about 10:00 p.m. I’m sure the party went past midnight.
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
We got up early for our long drive back to KC and solved all the problems in the NFL on the way home. Once in KC, I stopped by for a hair cut with my old KC barber, Benny Cardello, Plaza Hair Design
. Great Guy – Good Barber! From there, I walked over to Seasons 52 and met Trent Green, my KC quarterback and limited VWG partner. We had a great visit (I really miss this guy), then Lori Elliott of Major Brands picked me up and we made three stops pouring for Brent Witlock, GM of IL Centro
, located at 5101 Main St., KC, MO (816-561-2369); Aaron Shields, owner of Louie’s Wine Dive
and Ruth’s Chris
senior manager, Tom Pendegast. Ruth’s Chris is located in the Plaza at 700 W 47th St, KC, MO (816-531-4800). Everyone appeared to appreciate the wines poured, especially Tom at Ruth’s Chris. He ordered three cases right off the bat.
Now, off to our home run event, Eddie Kennison’s Cellars and Loft Wine Club
on Walnut in the City Market area downtown. This club is now up to 1200 members, and a lot of them showed up to taste, visit and purchase. Carol went with me and partner Carl Peterson and wife Lori came over later to help work the crowd. We were there from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and 15 cases went out the door within that time period -- a very good indication that they liked the wines. Eddie said the remaining 9 cases (he had ordered 24) would be gone by the end of the day Saturday. Thanks for your support Eddie. You might remember Eddie was my #1 wide receiver while coaching the Chiefs.
At 8:30, the Vermeil’s and Peterson’s went over to the Plaza III Steak House to dine with our close friends and owners of Plaza III, Nabil and Peggy Haddad. Next time you are in KC, drop in for a great dinner. We drank our JLV 2003 and it was very good. Great people, great food and wine! A good time was had by all.
Friday, April 26th 2013
Friday morning I drove to Arrowhead Stadium to do some on-camera video work for the Chiefs. They were putting some material together for their web site on Tony Gonzalez, Dante Hall and Trent Green. Fun to do! Always fun to talk about former great players I’ve had the opportunity to coach. When I got finished at Arrowhead, I met Carl Peterson for a two-hour lunch at Seasons 52. Had a great visit, solved all the problems of the world, then headed over to Operation Breakthrough to meet up with Carol and visit with Sister Berta. Operation Breakthrough is a day care center for 450 children a day, run by two Sisters, Sister Berta and Sister Kerita. Breakthrough refers to “break through” the poverty line. Well, we did just that on Friday night. Operation Breakthrough was holding their big fund raiser that night and there had to be at least 500 people on hand, most of whom came to bid on silent and live auction items. Carol volunteered there all five years in KC, and she loved every moment of it, and needless to say, spent a few dollars. Our case of JLV Cabernet went for $1,000 a bottle. A great evening, a great cause, all supported by the wonderful people in KC.
Saturday, April 27th, 2013
I would guess, when the numbers are all added up, we sold approximately 45 cases of wine, stimulated our VWG KC market, and got some excellent coverage from the State Capital. A good investment of my time!
March 22, 2013
Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
I just got back from a two-day VWG/OTE business trip from West Palm Beach, Florida. Joe Naselli Sr., chairman of Creative Financial Group (CFG), and Bernie Audett, president of CFG, hosted their third annual Vermeil Wines Dinner and CFG Golf Tournament at Trump International golf course. These guys have been big supporters of our wine business and through this association, we have added many club members and on-line wine purchasers. John Scarpa, one of the VWG/OTE partners, introduced us to this company a few years back. Great to have them on our team!
Prior to our Monday night wine dinner, John Scarpa, Tom Ward and I made a business call to a new up-and-coming distributorship called Amici Imports, located in North Palm Beach. The people who own and operate Amici Imports are personal friends of John Scarpa, therefore our door opener. We poured all our wines for Robert Cuillo, his wife Gudrun, and their sales executive Julie Butcher. Mrs. Cuillo is really the person who has put the new distributorship together and Bob made it clear that this was her baby! They tasted them all and said they would like to represent all of them in their marketplace. These people have their own winery in Livernano Italy, and produce a beautiful Chianti Classico and a very impressive Cabernet called Janus. They want to add some Napa Valley products, so it all looks good. It is now up to Tom Ward and our management team to pull it all together. A very productive stop! Great people who respect Paul Smith’s wine-making abilities – so we are very excited about the possibilities that exist within this new relationship.
From there we headed over to the Chez Jean-Pierre French restaurant to meet with Michael Azeez, our managing partner, where our wine dinner was going to be held: 132 North County Road, Palm Beach, FL 35480, 561-833-1171. This place has the reputation of being the best restaurant in Palm Beach, and after eating there, it is easy to understand why and how they earned it. CFG hosted about 50 people for a beautifully prepared dinner – a three-option main course; NY steak, Dover sole and chicken, and they allowed all their clients and potential clients to drink the wines of their choice. This is the first time we poured our 2010 Pickett Road Red, and it was a big hit. Tom circulated the room handing out order forms, and by the end of the night, 403 bottles of wine were ordered (thirty-three cases plus 7 bottles). One hundred and ninety seven bottles (16 cases) were the Pickett Road, so you can see why I said Pickett Road was a big favorite. A good time was had by all. Now for the negative experience – Golf! (Just Kidding!!)
On Tuesday morning we had breakfast at the Trump International Course, then approximately 30 of us went ahead and competed in the golf tournament. Needless to say, I didn’t play well at all, so my foursome didn’t come home with any trophies. This course is supposed to be the finest course in Florida, and it is so easy to see why it has this reputation. Absolutely a beautiful course, and I should know – I saw it all from every angle.
Thanks to CFG, Joe Naselli and Bernie Audett, John Scarpa, and Bob and Gudrun Cuillo of Amici Imports. It was a very productive VWG/OTE experience.
Until Next time – Drink Up!
January 31, 2013
January 26, 2013
Carol and I are on our United Airlines flight home from our two-day VWG/OTE wine marketing trip in Houston, Texas. I’m very pleased to report that the time invested was well worth the effort. Rodney Brown, our Spec’s organization wine representative, did a great job organizing the two days so we could maximize the use of our time while in town. I now call Rodney our “Houston offensive coordinator.” He does a great job of calling plays. As we normally do, we stayed with our newest best friends, Robert and Olivia Pacini. What great people! Robert is one of the largest collectors of French wines in the USA, but does enjoy our VWG/OTE wines when we are in town. (No choice!)
January 24, 2013
Morning, January 25, 2013
Our first day in town started with a wine dinner at the Haven restaurant, located at 2502 Algerian Way in downtown Houston (713-581-6101). Owner and operator Rhea Wheelor and his wife Debbie were on hand to help host the event. Chef Randy Evans designed a menu that he felt would best show off our ‘11 Sauvignon Blanc, ‘10 Semillon, ’09 Proprietary Red, Luvisi ’09 Zin, as well as our ’08 JLV Cab and Sweet Semillon.
All 45 people in attendance felt he did a fine job and acknowledged his efforts with a very enthusiastic applause when he was introduced. Rhea has been in our tasting room in Calistoga and is very positive about our wines within his restaurant, and for his future restaurants. Thank you Rhea and Debbie! Debbie is a fine chef in her own right, and she is very much respected in the Houston restaurant circles. The Pacini family, including both daughters, Tamara and Marie along with their husbands Harrison and David, joined us for the event. What a great family!
Friday morning started at 8:00 a.m. with a two-segment radio interview on CBS 610. John Lopez and Nick Wright host this #1 radio sports talk show five mornings a week, and the audience is huge. What a great opportunity! Rodney Brown of Spec’s set this up and both Nick and John did a great job promoting our wines. It is very easy to see why this is the #1 rated morning drive-time show. Two very talented people who do their homework! Dan Pastorini, a former star quarterback for the old Houston Oilers and 1982 backup quarterback for my last Eagle team called in. Great fun to visit with him!
From there we drove over to the Fox 26 TV station for two TV interviews with both their morning news show people and their wine and cooking show host Cleverly Stone. This was a live TV discussion about our VWG/OTE wine business and its exposure in the Houston marketplace. She did a nice job of promoting our wines. Again, Rodney – thank you for setting up these events. I also recorded about 20 minutes of material to be used on Cleverley’s radio shows airing during the weeks to come. Thank you Cleverly! I met most of the management team at Fox, including D’Artagnan Bedel, Vice President and General Manager. We had a very long visit and are invited back whenever I’m in town.
Noon, January 25, 2013
Following our radio and TV shows, we drove over to have lunch at Vic & Anthony’s steak house and pour for their wine manager, Sachin George. They already have some of our wines on their wine list, but Rodney wanted him to taste our ‘10 Cab Franc, which Spec’s just took on, and our ‘10 Pickett Road Cab. He will most likely add both to his roster. Vic & Anthony’s is located at 1510 Texas Ave. (713-228-1111), and is only open for lunch on Fridays. The place was packed and the food was superb! It is part of the Landry chain and is a first class restaurant. Try it. You’ll love it.
Afternoon, January 25, 2013
Right after lunch we went over to the Rainbow Lodge to pour the Cab Franc and Pickett Road for Tim Neely, the Lodge’s general manager. They are already carrying our wines, thanks to Rodney, but he will soon be adding more of our products to their outstanding wine list. Thank you Tim! The Rainbow Lounge is located at 2011 Ella Blvd & East T. C. Jester in Houston (713-861-8666). They specialize in wild game dinners, with elk being their #1 order.
Now we drive downtown to meet up with Bear Dalton at Spec’s. He is the head coach of the wine side of the business, and it is great to have him on our side of the line of scrimmage. Nothing happens on the Spec’s wine team without Bear calling the plays. Incidentally, he mentioned his wife Carol loved our ‘10 Pickett Road Cab. Thanks for your support Carol.
With this meeting over, we headed over to meet once again with Pappas Bros Steakhouse wine director, Robert Smith. We stop in here every time we are in Houston. Pappas is maybe the #1 steakhouse in Houston, and believe me when I say; there is a lot of competition striving to be the #1 steakhouse. Robert is already a fan of Paul Smith’s wine making abilities, and he added the ‘10 Cab Franc to his red wine menu as we visited. I believe this will be a place we will come back to and put on a VWG/OTE wine dinner in the future. It would be a home run!
Late Afternoon, January 25, 2013
Our next and last stop, prior to our evening wine dinner at the Houston CC, is the famous RDG Bar Annie, run by owner and chef, Robert Del Grande. While there we had lunch with Jose Perez Montufar, their wine director. I can still remember having their delicious rabbit enchiladas. I promise I’ll come back for them again in the future. I said hello to Paco, one of their assistant coaches who does a great job within his responsibilities. Robert was nice enough to join Jose, Rodney and I for a complete tasting session, even though they already feature some of our wines. Our XXXIV is very popular there, thanks to one of their top waiters, Valentin Mejia, who really pushes our Proprietary Red. Thank you Valentin!
Back to our tasting session--Robert very seldom gets this involved in the tasting sessions from what Rodney says, so I was very honored that he personally would take the time to taste with us. His reactions to all Paul’s wines were very positive. I’ll be surprised if we don’t get a nice order in addition to what they already have on their wine list. Robert Del Grande is a very respected chef and his restaurant is always a Houston destination for top wine and food people coming into town. I found out during our conversation that he was a San Francisco native who later moved to Burlingame and attended Mills High School. Mills is in the same league my Hillsdale High team was in during the 1960’s. Robert was a baseball player. From Burlingame, he headed to the University of San Francisco to major in biochemistry. No wonder he’s a great chef—he can dissect the recipe and blend the spices with a deep understanding of the chemicals involved. This tasting session may very well be the #1 session I’ve been involved in since the initiation of our VWG/OTE business in 2008. I really enjoyed the time invested with these people. I also got to say hello to Robert’s very pretty wife, Mimi. She’s a real asset to their RDG Bar Annie. I didn’t want to leave. We will be back to host a VWG/OTE wine dinner there soon!
Evening, January 25, 2013
Now it is time to head to the main event – our Houston Country Club wine dinner. Rodney dropped me off at the Pacini’s so I could freshen up, pick up Robert Pacini and Carol, and head over to the country club. This club is the most prestigious club in Houston! It is a twelve hundred-member club that is very tough to get into, let alone put on a wine dinner. Thanks to the great reputation of the Spec’s organization, run by John and Lyndi Rydman, and the help of their top employee Rodney Brown, we were able to present our wines to a very select group of successful business people who are Houston Country Club members.
The club’s assistant clubhouse manager, Chris Glaubitz, met us as we entered the reception area. A fine young man who had everything organized and coordinated with the club’s beverage manager, Lenny Kurisko. Lenny was on top of everything! We had poured for him and a few wine board members in the past, so we already knew each other. Since that tasting, he has been pouring our JLV as well as featuring the Luvisi Zin by the glass for the last month, therefore, one of the reasons for this wine dinner.
This dinner was a great experience in wine tasting and the matching of great gourmet food. You can see by reviewing the included menu that Chris, Lenny and their chef really know how to do it right. Maybe the classiest quality wine dinner attended to date! Will and Ann Brett were our hosts, and what a wonderful couple! I left there feeling I’ve known these people for years. Will is a big-time wine person, very knowledgeable, and he has a lot of respect for good wine, especially those made in Italy. I believe he will become a VWG/OTE ally in the future as he carries out his wine board responsibilities. We will see them again!
The evening was even more special by having the Pacini’s with us again for the second night in a row. Robert really knows and appreciates good food, and he and his family said they, too, thought the event was outstanding.
Houston may very well be the best restaurant city I travel to as I represent our VWG/OTE organization. If it is not already, Houston will become our #1 VWG city in the USA, thanks to the Spec’s organization, Rodney Brown, and Robert and Olivia Pacini.
One other big ally we have in Houston is Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle. He is their senior sports writer and wine columnist who has been supporting our efforts all along. He came over and ate with us at the Haven’s dinner, which added a degree of credibility to the whole event. He’s a very respected person in Houston. At that time, Dale told me about a 12-party blind Cabernet wine tasting in which our ’08 JLV won! What a great compliment to Paul Smith and our custom crush team at Cuviason. I believe the Houston Chronicle will be featuring a story soon about this blind-tasting win. I love winning!
Wednesday, January 30, 2013, I’ll be heading to New Orleans with Tom Ward for 3 days of radio/TV wine marketing on media row. I’ve done it twice now, so I know what to expect.
Enjoy the Game!
December 13, 2012
Last Monday, December 10th, Tom Ward and I drove to Toms River, New Jersey to help Donny and Stacy Sanders, owners of Monaghan’s Liquor Store of the Spirit Unlimited Group, to help host a Vermeil wine tasting at the Serenity Café. Serenity is located at 2008 Rte 37 East, in Toms River. We were there for a sit down VWG dinner in the past, and Chef Manning did a great job, so we went back for an encore. This time, rather than a sit down meal, Chef Manning organized food stations with his favorite finger foods. They were all great! By setting up this way, we were able to pour all of our wines, even the Charbono and Late Harvest Zin. Each food station was set up with a different wine along with the food. They also allowed each person to pour his or her own wines; therefore, a lot of wine was tasted.
Donny Sanders had all our wines in house so if someone really liked what they were tasting, they could go over and place an order, then walk out of the building with the wine at the end of the night. Donny said that the wine consumed and wine sold totaled 39 cases of VWG/OTE wines, so it was a great evening for Monaghan’s Liquors Store and Vermeil Wines.
Danny invited, free of charge, a number of first responders to Hurricane Sandy to the event as his guests. These guys were police officers and firemen – super guys – who really deserved a treat and a special thank you. The fee for all others to attend was $50 per person. I would estimate the attendance to be approximately 100 people.
Believe me when I say that everyone got their money’s worth.
Thank you Donny, Stacy and Chef Manning for providing VWG/OTE with this great opportunity to market our wines.
Merry Christmas & Happy New year
Celebrate with a Vermeil Wine
Friday, November 30th – 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Event: Total Wines on Naamans Road in Delaware
(302-994-1788 or 302-994-5510)
Tom Ward and I were together pouring, signing and selling our 2008 JLV Cabernet, our 2009 Proprietary Red XXXIV and our 2008 Frediani Zinfandel. Store managers, Jeff Barnes, Louis Grunes, and Alan Westenberger were on hand to help direct our efforts. Tim Pettit, wine manager, worked right along with Tom and me. He was a big help and very much appreciated. Traffic flow was good and we sold ten cases of wine, with the XXXIV being our #1 product. Tasting comments were all very positive, and I believe we acquired a number of new VWG/OTE wine fans. This was a pretty balanced crowd of people; some were there for signed bottles of wine to give for Christmas presents, and others were there to taste, appreciate and purchase our wines because they are serious wine advocates. Of course, there were a group of loyal Eagle fans that wanted to say hello, taste and maybe purchase a signed wine bottle. The Total Wines sales force was very complimentary of our product and said they had been directing customers to the area in the store where our wines were displayed. Thank you sales force!
Friday night, November 30th – 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Event: Mary Campbell Center/Vermeil Wines Charity Dinner at La Casa Pasta, located at Rte 896, Four Seasons Shopping Center, Newark, DE (302-545-3341)
Approximately 80 people paid $150 for an unbelievable six course meal, supported by four of our wines: 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 Luvisi Zin, 2009 XXXIV and our 2008 JLV Cabernet. All four wines were very well received! This was strictly a fund-raising even for the Center, but I do believe we will end up with some new customers as well. I’ve been involved with the Mary Campbell Center since around 1978, so I know a lot of people within the organization and am totally aware of what a great job they do for their residents who all have severe special needs. Four residents attended and really enjoyed the night. Many of the management staff participated and contributed to the good time had by all. Thank you Guisseppi and Anna Martuscelli for doing a great job with the food and keeping the expenses down so we could make more money for the Center. If you haven’t eaten at La Casa Pasta, you must get out there!
Saturday, December 1st – 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Event: Total Wines at 2100 Rte 38, Cherry Hill NJ 08002 (856-667-7100)
Tom and I were here to do basically the same thing we did the day before in Delaware: present our wines to their customers and try to stimulate their customer base to get involved with our VWG/OTE wines. In New Jersey, a store employee must do the pouring, so I want to say thanks to Linda who did the pouring for us. She was great! Many Eagle fans stopped to say hello, and a number of them bought Vermeil Wines.
The height of the afternoon was when Vince and Janet Papale (Invincible) dropped by to support the event. It didn’t take long for Vince to attract a crowd in front of our tasting session and draw attention to our wine booth. Vince and Janet are good VWG customers. Earlier in the day Ken Dunek and his wife Teri came in and purchased a mixed case as well. Ken played for me with the Eagles in 1980 & 81, and then went on to be a star tight end with the Philadelphia Stars USFL team in 1982. He is also the owner of the Jersey Man magazine. These reunions were a lot of fun!
November 29, 2012
Well, Carol and I are on the plane flying home from Kansas City. Overall, I believe I can say the one and a half day VWG/OTE wine business trip was a good investment of our time.
Tuesday, November 27th
We got in late Tuesday afternoon and had to hustle to get over to Jacobson’s restaurant for our 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. bottle signing, wine tasting and dinner event. Jacobson’s is a new place that has only been open for a few months, and it is going well – not hard to evaluate why! It is located at 2050 Central St. in Kansas City (816-423-2888), a little hard to find but worth the effort. Lori Elliott of Major Brands was on hand along with Rod Crawford to help Carol and me host the event. Fifty people were in attendance for the entire evening and a few just came by to purchase wine and have me sign the bottles. Michael Werner, the managing partner, along with Chris Curtis, general manager, and Chef John Smith knocked themselves out to do it right! Chef John’s food was outstanding and our wines matched up beautifully. Trent Green, my all pro KCC quarterback, and his wife Julie came in to help meet, greet, eat and sign, along with Eddie Kennison, our #1 wide receiver. Everyone really enjoyed their presence. Needless to say, their participation inspired me as well. You might remember that Trent is a limited partner. The menu is included.
They served enough food for two dinners. No one left hungry! Ten cases of wine were poured throughout the evening, and four cases were sold. This is legal in Kansas City! If you live in the Kansas City area or visit from time to time, stop in Jacobson’s for dinner and a fine glass of our VWG wines. We will be a featured wine from now on.
Wednesday, November 28th
I started out the day with a breakfast meeting with a former Kansas City player, Jonathon Quinn, a backup quarterback for a couple of years who is now the head coach at the Mid American Nazarene College in Olathe, Kansas. He’s done a great job for them and has a great career in front of him. We met at the Classic Cup because they are good VWG/OTE wine promoters. It’s always fun to share time with a former player. Now it is time to go to work! Lori Elliott picked me up at our old condo and we headed over to pour our newer vintages for Michael Garozzo at the Garozzo’s Ristorante at 526 Harrison St. in Kansas City (816-221-2455). It is one of four locations. Michael had lunch with us as we ate and tasted. He’s been selling our wines all along, but wanted to taste our newer products. The food was outstanding – too much – but so good, and Michael loved our new stuff. He purchased seven cases of our 2007 Cab Franc for his personal use and added the newer wines to his list to be integrated within his cellar soon. From Garozzo’s we drove a few blocks and met up with Jordan Carver, general manager of the Majestic Restaurant, located at 931 Broadway in Kansas City. This place is an old Kansas City institution that had fallen on hard times, but is now up and running again over the last three years due to Jordan Carver’s efforts. Business is good and the atmosphere superb. I believe they will add the 2008 Cab Franc and our XXXIV to their wine list in the near future. Our next stop was at “Louie’s Wine Dive” to pour for Kyl Cabbage, chief wine steward -- Louie’s “wine guy.” Owner Aaron Shields just opened up this corner wine bar a month ago. It is located at 7100 Walnut Road in Kansas City (816-569-5097). Their team is working eighteen-hour days to get this place up and running properly; therefore they have already enjoyed early success. All comments were positive though, in Kyl’s opinion, the ’08 Cab Franc was corked. No one else noticed it, but he is the expert. Lori will go back in soon to close a deal! I could see this place becoming a “hot spot.” Good people, good food and wine, and a great corner location.
At 5:30, Lori Elliott picked me up to head out to Red X, the #1 reason for being in Kansas City to meet up with Zeke Young, president of the Red X organization. This place is located at 2401 NW Platte Road in Riverside, MO (816-741-3377), and has been there forever. It is way more than just a wine and spirits shop – they sell everything! Red X is a very big client of our distributor, Major Brands, and potentially a very big retail outlet for our wines. Zeke Young and staff invited all their wine club members to come to a meet, greet and taste event from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Approximately 150-160 members signed in to attend and every one of them were wine enthusiasts and Kansas City Chief fans. It was a very warm friendly group of people! They tasted first our Sauvignon Blanc, then Charbono, to Cab Franc, to Frediani Zin, and on to our XXXIV and JLV Cab. I signed bottles for a while; closing out the event, but it was not one of those tastings that was strictly a souvenir event. There were more true serious wine fans. The question and answer part of the evening was really great. They really wanted to know about the history of VWG/OTE and our whole process. Real fun! Just great, authentic middle America people who are really easy to enjoy. By evaluating the wines purchased following the tasting, XXXIV was their favorite, though two cases of the fourteen cases sold were Cabernet.
Greg Garrison, Major Brands wine manager, was there to help Red X’s team host the event, which I really appreciated. Lori took the night off because she’d been going strong, but Greg and a couple others from his MJB staff really helped make this a very successful event. Thanks Greg! You do it right! Spencer gave me a ride over to meet up with Carol and Carl and Lori Peterson for a 9:00 p.m. dinner at the Chop House, which was outstanding. The only negative is there were no VWG wines on the list as yet. Hit’em next time! As you might know, Carl and Lori are major partners in our VWG/OTE business.
Thank you Zeke Young! You and your staff did a great job!
Thursday November 29th
Flying home! There are three VWG events this weekend:
Friday, November 30th 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Total Wines & More in Claymont, Delaware, 691 Naamans Road, Northtown Plaza (302-792-1322)
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Mary Campbell Center Vermeil Wines Charity Dinner--all benefits going to the center. Dinner is being held at La Casa Pasta restaurant on 120 Four Seasons Parkway, Newark, Delaware (302-738-9935). $150 per person. It will be great! One of my favorite places to eat!
Saturday, December 1st, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Total Wines & More, 2100 NJ Route 38, Cherry Hill, New Jersey (856-667-7100)
November 18, 2012
Arrived home this morning, Sunday, November 18th, a little tired but very upbeat about my time in St. Louis. Our VWG/OTE wine awareness is obviously growing in a positive way in Missouri. Wednesday night, November 14th, my first day in town, I went to the St. Louis Hall of Fame banquet in which two of my Ram people were inducted – Jim Hanifan, offensive line coach, and Orlando Pace, my left offensive tackle. Both were very deserving! I sat next to Bob Costas for three hours. What an entertaining man! He, too, was inducted.
Thursday, November 15th
7:45 a.m. Did a segment on Fox News, Channel 2 TV, with Randy Naughton, which was set up by President & GM, Spencer Koch. They have been very supportive of our wine efforts in St. Louis. They actually had six bottles of our wines as a prop on TV, so we really got a great blast on air. Fox 2 is the #1 station in St. Louis. Thank you Spencer! Thank you Randy! Enjoy the wines VWG/OTE sent as a token of our appreciation. Gena Feldman, Major Brands social media manager, was on site to help me get set up.
12:00 noon I met up with Jack Kleber and Sean McKeon, Major Brands fine wine supervisor at Café Napoli at 7754 Forsyth Blvd. in Clayton, Mo. There we poured our wines for owner and friend, Tony Pietoso, and son Kye. Carol and I enjoyed many fine meals there while we were in St. Louis. They do great work!! They ordered 2 ½ cases of our wines – XXXIV, Frediani Zin and Sauvignon Blanc. Thank you Tony!
1:45 p.m. I went on a live radio show with Martin Kilcoyne on KTRS Big 550 for a 12-minute interview, which was mostly wine-related. Martin is one of the leading radio personalities in St. Louis. He just recently moved to KTRS from an all-sport station in town -- a very talented guy and a good friend of Vermeil Wines.
2:30 p.m. We meet with the Ruth Chris team, Geoff Dill, GM, and Scott Pearson, at their restaurant at 1 North Brentwood in Clayton, MO. Jack and Sean were with me to help pour. Geoff and Scott really liked the wines and ordered 2 ½ cases to get started. I’m confident they will move a lot of VWG wine over the next few months. They seemed very enthusiastic about getting started.
4:00 p.m. We headed over to 17A West County Center in Despres, MO, to meet up with the J. Gilbert Steak House staff. Louis Ambros, Executive VP of the chain, and Ben Sabol, Dawn Allen and Trip Anway were there to host the tasting. J. Gilberts is a one-year old business in St. Louis that was just rated the #1 steak house in the area. We’ve done a successful wine dinner in their Kansas City steak house, so Vermeil Wines were not strangers to these guys. They really enjoyed all the wines and ended up ordering two cases to get started. Good steak, good wine – can’t lose!
4:30 p.m. From J. Gilberts, I did a live radio segment with DiMarco Farr and Randy Carriker on their #1 radio sports talk show. DiMarco was my defensive left tackle on my super bowl team. He’s done really well in radio in the area and always supports us when we are in town.
6:00 p.m. I checked into the IL Bel Lago restaurant to get ready for our VWG/OTE wine dinner from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. IL Bel Lago is located at 11631 Olive Blvd in Creve Coeur, MO – 314-994-1080. Carmelo, Mike and Frank Gabriele own this place and do a great job. I’ve included a copy of their menu.
There were approximately 55 people in attendance along with 10 Vermeil guests who either worked or played for me while with the Rams. The wines were very well received, and I’m sure we created a few more steady customers as well as a few new club members. Thank you IL Bel Lago family! You did a great job.
Friday, November 16th
10:00 a.m. I met up with the Major Brands staff at their offices at 6701 Southwest Ave in St. Louis. Sean McKeon had his fine wines division organized to take a “team picture.” Then I headed out to Sam’s Club in Wentzville, MO for a three-hour tasting, bottle signing event. Mike Rehgan, key account manager and the coordinator of the Sam’s Club account was with me. This was the first time I worked directly with Mike and I really enjoyed the time I invested with him. Gena Feldman was with us to do the pouring. We sold 17 cases of wine in 3 ½ hours. Most of the people who came through our stand were Ram fans wanting to get a signed bottle for gift purposes. Hopefully they will appreciate the wine enough to become future customers. The mid-west people sure seem to have a very warm, sincere, appreciative approach to life as you visit with them in a signing experience. Never know, we may develop a few new club members within the Sam’s Club group.
6:00 p.m. Table III Vermeil Wine Dinner: 16765 Main Street, Wildwood, MO – 636-458-4333. Beth Williams, owner and operator of Table III, does a fabulous job of putting on wine events. This event was sold out at 70 people. I brought four guests. Rob Zarrella is her leader in organizing and directing these dinners, and believe me, between the two of them, they really know what they are doing. A menu is included for your evaluation. The food and wine blend was great.
Bob Ducker, Beth’s husband, was there to lend a hand. He’s an old college football player, so we had a lot in common. Sean McKeon of Major Brands was also there to represent his organization. The food and wine was very well received by everyone in attendance. Whenever these dinners are in private rooms, the atmosphere is always better: loud, warm and fun!! By the end of the evening, it usually gets really loud! Thank you Beth Williams and staff for doing such a great job!
Saturday, November 17th
I got up and went over to spend some time with my old Ram family. Not many still around, but Larry Clerico, head of the video department; John Knetser, facility manager; and John Welby, equipment – all were there when I was, so it was good to be able to say hello. I spent a few minutes with head coach Jeff Fisher -- incidentally a big wine fan -- and then went to their practice. Saturday before a Sunday game is always a light practice day. Marty and Pat Schottenheimer were also on the field. Their son, Brian, is the Ram offensive coordinator. Fun time is over! Time to go to work!
12:00 p.m. I drove over to the St. Louis Wine Market tasting room at 164 Chesterfield Commons East in St. Louis – 636-536-6363. Once there, Rich Sterkel, owner and operator met me and got me all set up to start a tasting/bottle signing day that would go for four hours, and end up being the most successful event of its kind since we started VWG/OTE wine business four years ago. When I left to head to the airport, we had sold 31 cases of wine: JLV, XXXIV, Frediani Zin, Charbono, Cab Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. The Cab Franc was a big hit. This place is a real tasting room. Rich’s staff, Jeff Binder, Tom Bush and MJB’s Erin Bresnan did the pouring for real wine tasters. From the tasting bar, they came over to the signing table to have me sign every bottle. Cliff Frazier, my all-American defensive tackle on my UCLA team was there to help entertain our wine crowd. He’s a native of the area and quite a personality—fun to have him there! This crowd was both serious about their wine tasting and their Ram team. I’m positive we will pick up a few new wine club members out of this group. I repeat – this was a record-setting event led by a very knowledgeable wine expert in Rich Sterkel. Thank you Richard!!
To Summarize: Without knowledge of the amount of Vermeil wines purchased for each dinner, and only guestimating 10 to 12 cases at each place, I would say we did about 70 cases of wine sold in the three days in St. Louis – Not to mention, we introduced our product and name to thousands of people via radio and TV. A win-win for our VWG/OTE Company.
Have a Great Thanksgiving! I will be in Kansas City on November 27th and 28th.
November 11, 2012
As I stated in closing my last update, Tom Ward and I were going to be in New York to pour our wine at Morrell’s located at 1 Rockefeller Plaza, on Friday, November 9th from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. I am pleased to report the event went very well, especially from a relationship standpoint.
Carol came along with Tom and me to help out and share our VWG/OTE wine experience in New York City. We arrived early, so we stopped in Alfredo’s next door for lunch, and it was spectacular. With extra time to kill, we spent an hour in Morrell’s wine café next door to their retail shop and enjoyed a Pinot Noir tasting. My favorite was Barnett’s on Spring Mountain in St. Helena. Nice glass of Wine! Thank you Todd Simon for hosting us! At 4:30 p.m., we set up shop and went right to work. Thomas Stanley, director of purchasing, had everything well organized and was a big help with our overall presentation. We had a steady flow of people coming through for a taste for two and half hours. I would estimate we sold approximately five cases of wine, with about 70% being our 2009 Proprietary Red XXXIV label. Almost everyone coming by were football fans first, wine drinkers second, and by the time they finished tasting, they were VWG wine fans as well. Eagle fans dominated the visitors, but a few Ram and Chief fans also came in for a taste.
Three quarters through our session, Bert Lindstrom, CSW and Morrell’s director of education, came by to sample the two wines we were pouring – our JLV Cab and the 2009 Proprietary XXXIV Red blend. He was very complimentary of both products and enthusiastic about representing them within his responsibilities.
I really believe the Morrell staff was surprised that we pulled in so many people. I had one employee say they very seldom get that kind of a rush at that time on a Friday. The shop has been downsized from what it was when I used to drop in and check out what they had going on that was not out there on the streets as yet. At that time, Morrell’s was on Madison Avenue. Morrell’s has a big catalog distribution organization as well, from which they sell a lot of wine. Our wines are featured on pages 42 and 43 in the latest edition. Check them out at www.morrellwine.com or call in at 1-800-86 WINES. A fine magazine!
Carl Peterson, a major partner in the VWG/OTE wine company, and his wife Lori came in at 6:00 p.m. and went right to work visiting with everyone as they sipped our wines. At 6:45 p.m. we closed up shop and headed over to meet a grandson for dinner at the La Silhouette restaurant at 362 West 53rd Street (212-581-2400). I would recommend this restaurant to anyone.
All in all, this was a very positive VWG/OTE wine business trip. We’ve established a positive relationship and I believe Morrell’s will do a good job representing our wine, both in their shop and in their magazine.
Thank you Peter, Roberta and Nikos for allowing us the opportunity.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! Make sure you include a selection of Vermeil wines. Off to St. Louis this week for three days of VWG/OTE wine business.
October 18, 2012
For those of you who have been following my “Coach’s Corner,” I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t made an entry since August, just a few days prior to heading out to Calistoga for a 2 1/2 week stay. I normally only enter VWG/OTE business events, but since it has been a while, I thought I would bring those of you who are interested up to date on my other excursions.
August 30th – September 17th
Labor Day weekend in Calistoga is a big “Vermeil” weekend with the Annual Louie Vermeil Classic non-winged sprint car races on the famous half-mile dirt track in town. My dad was dominant in northern California sprint car racing for many years, which is why the annual USAC (United States Auto Club) sanctioned event is held in his honor. In the past I shipped one of his old sprint cars to run memorial laps in his honor. I didn’t this year, but will bring two out next year. I restored one and am in the process of finishing the second one.
Prior to the first day of racing, they put on a wine tasting sponsored by about 20 wineries. People pay $5 for an empty glass, and then spend from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. filling their glasses with some of the best wines in the Valley. Needless to say, by the time the racers start qualifying, the tasters are all fueled up.
Carol and I always stay with VWG-Limited Partner, Don Luvisi and his wife, Mickey. We grew up together in Calistoga. Those of you who drink our wines probably recognized the Luvisi name, as it is on our 1908 Luvisi Vineyard Zinfandel, by the way, a 93-rated bottle of Zin!!
While in Calistoga I spend a lot of time moving in and out of the Lincoln Ave. tasting room. There are always people from Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City coming in to visit. Most of them purchased some wine.
I always try to go in the restaurants that have our wine on their wine list. One night we shared a great meal at Brennan’s right there on the main corner of town on Lincoln & Washington. I recommend it highly! We also drove to Napa one night and ate at the Bounty Hunter. Some of you might subscribe to their Bounty Hunter retail wine magazine--great magazine and a very fun restaurant. Big on BBQ! Lots of beer on tap and a fine wine list! Also affordable! We hope to be doing a lot of business with them in the near future. You might remember Tom Ward and I made a trip out to the Napa Valley to meet with the Bounty Hunter management staff and then went on over to meet with the Total Wines people in Santa Rosa back in early August.
The Napa Valley experience usually includes opportunities for me to work the harvest, but Mother Nature didn’t coordinate her calendar with mine this year, so we just tasted our wines rather than crushing the grapes.
We were also invited to the grand tasting of a new high-end quality wine called “The Brand,” held in St. Helena. Ed Fitts, a close personal friend both in Pennsylvania and California, is the owner of this new beautiful winery on Pritchett Hill in the St. Helena area. It is up off the Silverado Trail. They only made about 250 cases of 100% Cabernet, so if you want to purchase some, get on it right away. Phillipe Milka is the wine-maker. I promise you will love the wine.
I also had my first opportunity to attend an alumni day at a San Jose State football game since I graduated in 1958. Wow, that is a long time ago (54 years). Time flies when you are having fun. John Poch, assistant athletic director and in charge of development, organized a pre-game Vermeil Wine tasting for us; Tom Ward, the Luvisi’s and Carol attended with me. Saw some old friends and teammates, recruited some new VWG/OTE wine customers and sold eight cases of wine—and the Spartans won the game. A Great Day!! John Poch has brought a busload of Spartans up to Calistoga in the past, so we really appreciate his support. Go Spartans!!
Saturday, September 15th, I had the honor of being inducted into the Napa College Sports Hall of Fame. I both played there and then coached there, so it was a real positive experience for me. One of my old teammates from our 1955 team, Bob Nangle, came all the way from Seattle, Washington to attend. Great to see him, and I really appreciated his making the effort to be there. He is also a wine club member.
As you can see, our Napa Valley time is loaded with fun events and experiences which we were able to share with so many wonderful people, including our grandson James Barnett and his girlfriend Megan. James is the oldest son of our daughter, Nancy Barnett. He works in Los Angeles.
Those of you who follow us online know that on Sunday September 16th, our last day in Calistoga, was our first open house ever held for wine club members. Those of you who were able to attend know it was a very fun day for everyone. Those of you who couldn’t attend, but are interested enough to want to know what went on, I’ll explain...
We set up the day by assigning attendees specific time slots for each party, starting at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning and running through 4:00 p.m. that afternoon. Members started in the tasting room with light snacks, tasted wine, then were bused out to the Frediani/Luvisi vineyards for an educational visit with limited partner, Don Luvisi as he took them through the different grapes we were about to crush to produce our VWG 2012 vintage. Don explained the differences in each varietal and they also tasted right off the vine.
From here, everyone got back in their small bus and headed out (2 miles) to Cuvaison winery, our custom crush partner. Upon arriving at Cuvaison, they were greeted by Paul Smith, our wine maker, and treated to barrel tastings of most of our wines to be bottled in the future. The barrels are stored in Cuvaison’s caves, so it was a very pleasant experience for everyone. Paul did a great job of presenting tasting notes and highlights of each varietal tasted. When finished at Cuvaison, they headed back to the tasting room for more hors d’oeuvres, wine tasting and visiting. Some of the people who started earlier in the day stayed around and visited with the other VWC members when they got back, so it ended up being a long tasting period, and a lot of fun.
Our club members were very complimentary of the newer wines tasted that are not yet out there on the market. Mary Sue was her normal self, full of fun, talk and information you could use. Bill Kirtsos, our accountant, and Glenn Davila came out from New Jersey to add their support to our first ever club event. You won’t want to miss next year’s because we will do it better. Thank you for being there, and we look forward to seeing you next September. For those of you who couldn’t make it, plan on being there come September 2013. Enjoy the Wines!
October 12, 2012
Since flying home in mid-September, I’ve only been involved with one major wine event--that being the one hosted by the Wistar Cancer Research Center, which is located on the University of Pennsylvania campus. I supplied the wines, and Dr. Russell Kaufman and his wife, Jane, hosted the event at their home in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Dr. Kaufman is president of this leading research center and put on this event to say “thank you” to their leading donors. The food was outstanding and believe me, not one of the 55 generous people in attendance went home hungry or thirsty. Dr. Kaufman gave me time to introduce the wines being tasted and then served with the dinner. All wines were very well received, and I will be very disappointed if we don’t end up with a few new wine club members. Two of the couples there were already members.
My side of the wine business picks up again now as we move into the holiday season, so I hope to see you in November at Morrell’s in New York on November 9th; in St. Louis from November 14th – 17th; in Kansas City on the 27th and 28th; then in Delaware at Total Wines; and Cherry Hill, New Jersey at Total Wines. For details on each event, refer to the coming events within our website. Until then—see ya!
August 22, 2012
Carol and I are on a Southwest flight home from what I think may prove to be our most productive VWG/OTE wine business trip. We started out in Kansas City last Thursday, August 16th, investing three days working with Major Brands (MB’s), our local distributor. We flew to Houston and hooked up with the Spec’s organization on Sunday, August 19th, to work the Houston market for three days. We saw a lot of people we worked with in KC over the five years there, and we were hosted in Houston by Robert and Olivia Pacini, the people who introduced us to John and Lindy Rydman, owners of the Spec’s Wine & Spirits chain in Texas--home based in Houston. Good friends, great people!
Instead of using my normal “documentation approach” to reporting to all of you interested Coach’s Club readers, I’m just going to try to outline the trip, due to all the stops, visits, people met, and thank you’s needed to do it right. It would end up being too much to read and appreciate. I don’t mean to slight all those that contributed to make this what I said earlier, my best VWG/OTE trip, but it would be too long and probably a little boring; therefore, an outline approach.
Thursday, August 16th
1. Carol heads to Operation Breakthrough, her most cherished daycare center in Kansas City, and one in which she made a big commitment while in KC for five years.
2. Dave Smith, MB’s rep, picks me up and we headed to Royal Wine & Spirits to pour our stuff for Alan Hagedorn, the GM and certified sommelier. He sampled some of our earlier wines in the past and indicated he liked our new ones better. He is going to make an order this week.
3. Dave drove me over to the Classic Cup in the Plaza to meet with Steve Malloy, and he invited wine reps from other local restaurants. Only about three other reps showed, but it was still good because Steve was a blast – super personality guy – and he put in a big order himself. Other MB’s reps, Tim Witer and Shelly Hall, came over to help present the wines—good people! The Classic Cup is only a couple of blocks from our condo, so I walked over and got ready for my McCormick & Schmick’s tasting at 6:00 p.m., also in the Plaza. This was the only unsuccessful business event of the six-day road trip—a communication breakdown. Fortunately for Carol and me, we had invited 24 KC Chief friends to come to the tasting and then stay for dinner. Trent and Julie Green, as well as Kendall and Leslie Gammon, came by too. As you may know, Trent is a limited partner, and Kendall was my long snapper. Geordie Pollock, representing MB’s, was apologetic and he did the best he could under the circumstances. Carl Peterson, a general partner in VWG/OTE, was still in New York and not getting back into KC until Friday evening, but his wife, Lori, was able to join us and help host our KCC friends. Thanks Lori!
Friday, August 17th
1. I was picked up in the morning by Randy Wilkins and driven over to MB’s headquarters to meet with 60 MB wine reps. Most of them, at one time or another, will pour our wines for a client. This was a great opportunity to bring everyone up to date, educate, motivate and build on a personal relationship. Needless to say, they are all KC Chief fans. Thanks Rod Crawford. You are very much appreciated for organizing this opportunity. I also met Ron Snider, VP and GM Sales Manager, who contributed to the organization of the meeting.
2. Randy and I headed out to Hyvee Grocer and Wine & Spirits store in Liberty, MO, on 109 Blue Jay Drive. Randy is an impressive young MB employee, as are all the MB employees I’ve gotten to know. We poured our wine for Scott Sanders, Hyvee Wine & Spirits manager and his assistant, Lisa Paris. They liked all the wines poured and are ordering four wines this week. Thank you Scott and Lisa.
3. The third stop was at Bubbles Wine & Spirits in Gladstone, MO, on Oak Traffic Way. It was just a pit stop to introduce me and say hello, but they ordered a mixed case while we were there.
4. Now, on to Red X to meet Ron Paradise. They’ve been carrying our wines, but will re-order soon. Red X sells a lot of wine, and I believe they will upgrade their efforts to move our newer products. They requested that I come back and pour for their wine club members later in November, so as of now, I’ll come back there on November 28th to do just that. Ron promised we would sell a lot of wine!
5. From there, Randy handed me off to Lori Elliott, another MB rep who is on top of her game. Our first stop was a new restaurant due to open September 1st. Managing partner, Michael Werner, tasted along with the executive chef, John Smith. They liked the wines and made a commitment to feature our wines when they open. They also asked if, while I was in KC, would we host a VWG/OTE wine dinner. I said I would, fitting it in with the Red X obligation in November. We will be there on the night of November 27th. The restaurant’s name is “The Jacobson” and is located at 2050 Central in KC, and it has a chance to be a “hot spot.” Good young people with a big challenge ahead of them. Hope we can help them succeed.
6. Next stop: a wine tasting at Piropo’s, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., located in Briarcliff Village, at 4141 Berry Drive in KC, MO. The owners, Mr. & Mrs. Gary Warden were there to welcome us to their very nice Argentinean restaurant. MB had taken five cases to backup the tasting, and we sold all five cases before it was time to head over to the Cellars and Loft event being put on by Eddie Kennison and his partner, Bill Dane.
7. Eddie Kennison, my KC Cheif wide receiver and his partner, Bill Dane, put on a VWG/OTE wine tasting for their wine club members and guests. Approximately 300 people came through their club before the night was over, including recently inducted NFL Hall of Famer, Willie Roaf, and my former KC Chief fullback, Tony Richardson. They sold 32 cases of our wines that night, mostly our Zinfandel and XXXIV. Carl Peterson got there halfway through the event, so we were able to sneak out for a late dinner after the event. Again, MB rep, Lori Elliott, and crew went above and beyond the call of duty. Many Thanks! The Cellar and Loft Wine Club is located at 525 Walnut in KC. Great Spot – Great Atmosphere!!
Saturday, August 18th
1. Didn’t go to work until noon. Rod Crawford (MB) picked me up, and we drove out to Lucas Liquors, located at 13657 Washington Street in KC, MO. We were scheduled for a noon to 2:00 p.m. tasting and bottle signing, with general manager, Andy Cardin, running the show. Andy and staff had it all set up and ready to go, which I always appreciate. We had a steady flow for two hours, selling at least seven cases of wine. The people were very enthusiastic about Paul Smith’s new wines, especially the Luvisi Zin. They were all Chief fans, so I signed a lot of bottles. KC Chief fans are very nice people!
2. Capital Grill, here we come—a great place with serious wine drinking customers. Rod, Lori and I poured for two hours with very positive results. Capital Grill customers with wine lockers on site purchased wines to support what they already had and were taking some home too. I don’t have a numbers count, but at least 40 people came through and enjoyed our wines. Restaurant managing partner, Bart Hickey, really appreciated our being there and I believe he will motivate his staff to push VWG/OTE wines. It seemed like our ’08 JLV was the hit with this group. Carl Peterson helped me pour, as did a few of the Capital Grill employees. A stronger relationship was established. Thank You Bart! Eddie Kennison also came over and donated his time and efforts to help build our Capital Grill relationship. Lori Elliot did a super job of representing MB and our wines. My good friends and part owners of the Major Brand distributorship, David and Ellise Vitter, dropped in to say hello and to add their support to the event. Great to see them. We’ve shared a few great wine dinners during my five-year KC experience.
Sunday August 19th, Travel Day
1. Carol and I landed in Houston around 12:30 p.m. and were picked up by our good friends, the Pacini’s. To repeat myself, Robert and Olivea are the people we met three years ago while doing a speaking engagement in Cost Rica, and are the people that later introduced us to John and Lindy Rydman, owners of the Spec’s chain of wine and spirits stores in Texas. Houston is Spec’s home base, and no one does it any better than they do.
2. Naturally, we had to stop at Molina’s for some great Mexican food for lunch. Love it! Robert has one of the finest collections of French wine in the country, so we did some serious tasting with the Pacini family that night.
Monday, August 20th
1. Rodney Brown, a Spec’s organization top gun, picked me up at 10:00 a.m. and took me to their home office to meet and visit with about 50 store managers. What a great opportunity that was. We tasted, discussed our wines, the Houston Texan football team and got to know each other. I spent about 45 minutes with these people and I really believe they will do a good job of representing our wines in the Texas marketplace. Spec’s is now up to 133 stores.
2. From there we headed over to the Haven restaurant to meet up with owner, Rhea Wheelor. What a great guy! He loved our wines and told us he would buy all he can sell. Makes sense, doesn’t it. We went back on Tuesday to have his wine director, David Orchard, taste. He, too, liked our wines and I loved the lunch we shared. I plan on going back either in November or December for a large VWG wine dinner at the Haven. Rhea has been in Calistoga many times, and we may hook up there in September.
3. Next stop – Coronado Club to pour for Aaron D’Soaza. A beautiful old club with a rich Houston history and many fine wine drinkers. Aaron will place an order this week.
4. At 3:00 p.m. we stopped by to meet Sam Governale, operating partner of Fleming’s, located at 2405 West Alabama St. in Houston. Super guy and knowledgeable wine person! Kelly, his assistant, tasted along with Sam and they were pleased with Paul Smith’s work. They will place an order and initiate the marketing of our wines, mainly our XXXIV and Luvisi Zin. I look forward to going back there in the future. Good People!
5. By 4:15 we were pouring our wines for Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse, a high-end, quality restaurant that is part of the Landry organization. Dave Poss, manager, Sachin George, wine manager and Carlos Rodrigues, executive chef, all were very complimentary of our products. They also had the entire waiters staff taste, which was a big plus because they meet the customers head-on every night. Sure wish we could get this done more often. A very positive stop!
6. After a pit stop at the Pacini’s we all headed over to Tony Mandola’s restaurant, located on 1212 Waugh Drive, to dine and drink our wines with Rick Jamil of Spec’s, Laura, their wine manager, and Dale Robertson, senior sports writer and wine columnist with the Houston Chronicle. With his combination of interests we really hit it off and had a great dinner and wine tasting experience. Having Robert, Olivea and Carol with me really helped move the evening along well. Dale liked our wines and will be doing a feature article on VWG/OTE business on Wednesday, September 5th. The VWG sent Dale some samples so he has more depth into everything we are doing. Thanks Rick Jamil and Dale Robertson for being there and giving up an evening of your time to drink Vermeil wines.
Tuesday, August 21st
1. Rodney picked me up at 9:15 a.m., and we went over to do a 20-minute live CBS radio show with two super sports radio talk show hosts. Didn’t get their cards. They were very organized – talked football and Vermeil Wines. We actually opened and poured our 2008 JLV while on the air. What a great opportunity to promote our wines and all the stops we were making. On to our next stop.
2. By noon we were at the Rainbow Lounge pouring for Tim Neely, their buyer. The Rainbow Lounge is an old established Houston restaurant known for their wild game dinners – a perfect match for our reds. He placed an order, and we moved on. This Rodney is pushing my butt! Thanks Rodney!
3. At one o’clock we were pouring for Jose Perez Montufar and eating the best enchiladas I’ve ever had. Taste this: rabbit enchiladas with cheese and mole sauce – out of this world! This restaurant, called RDG Bar Annie is a real popular hot spot in Houston, located on 1800 Post Oak Blvd. Their top waiter, Valentin Mejia, was a super guy as well, and he will do a very good job selling our wines, especially our ’08 XXXIV. They believe they can move 3 to 5 cases a week by placing the XXXIV on top of their highly recommended menu. Thank you Jose! Best restaurant stop, from a commitment standpoint, I’ve made since going on the road representing VWG/OTE wine. Also had the pleasure of meeting the owner’s beautiful wife, Mi Mi del Grande.
4. Now a make-up stop at the River Oaks Country Club with Christian Varas. We had a mix-up in communications, thinking we would be there on Monday, and Chris thinking it would be Tuesday. Anyway, we hooked up, poured our wines and received a good order. Houston country clubs are going strong. The economy in Houston is strong, which is good for the wine business.
5. Houston Country Club, here we come! Lenny Kurisco, their buyer, organized a formal tasting with four wine board members in a very nice tasting environment – numbered place mats, glasses all placed on specific numbers, and wines in every glass. Our wines were well received by all five tasters, and I do believe our wines will end up in a high percentage of their members’ private wine lockers, both in the club and in their homes. A very good stop! William Schaltz, general manager, Jason Bonks, sommelier, and James Reichert. Thank your for the opportunity!
6. By 3:45, we were pulling into Pappa’s Steak House for a tasting session with Robert Smith, their wine director, Don Vrba, general manager, and Michelle Rosales, event coordinator. Pappa’s Steakhouse is the high-end of many Pappa’s restaurants in the Houston market. They are a busy, family-run organization started by grandfather Pappa years ago. A fun stop and a good stop!
7. Now we had to take a break and get ready for the event we organized our entire Houston trip around: a Vermeil Wine dinner at the Petroleum Club. This club is located downtown on the 42nd floor of a beautiful office building. Sixty-two people signed up to attend and they came prepared for a great evening. Take the time to read the included menu and you can see why I say this was one of the very best wine events I’ve participated in. Rochelle and Jess Hewitt acted as hosts and moved the evening along with great ease. A highlight for me was having Bear and Carol Dalton, Spec’s #1 wine person, attend the dinner. Bear has great credibility in the wine world, so having him take the time to be with us with his wife really added a lot of class to our dinner. Thank you Bear! My Carol, along with the Pacini’s really enjoyed this event as well.
I met so many nice people! Many placed orders before the evening came to an end, and I believe we will pick up some new Coach’s Club members.
We flew home Wednesday following what I think was VWG/OTE’s best wine trip to date. I can’t thank Rodney Brown enough for all he did to organize, support and work with us throughout my stay in Houston. He is and will be one of the big reasons we will have great success in the Houston market.
Thank you Robert and Olivea for sharing your home, time, food and wine with Carol and me. You are truly special people. Love, Dick and Carol
Carol and I will be in Calistoga from August 30th to September 17th. Hope to see you in our tasting room.
August 7, 2012
August is going to be a busy VWG/OTE business month for me in that I've got three major trips planned. The first being the one I'm on now, out and back to California on the 6th and 7th to visit with Bounty Hunter, and on the same day, attend a Total Wines organization tasting. Then on August 16th, 17th and 18th, I'll be in Kansas City followed by three days in Houston on the 19th, 20th and 21st.
I met up with Tom Ward at the airport in San Francisco and with Paul Smith in Napa at the Bounty Hunter location on 975 First Street in Napa. As most of you know, Bounty Hunter is a very successful wine catalog and e-commerce wine business with well over one million on their mailing list. We were there to pour our wines ('08 JLV, '08 Cab Franc, '10 Luvisi Zin, '09 XXXIV, and our new Pickett Road Cab) for Rhet Gadke (wine director) and Paul LaRose (e-commerce and on-premise wine buyer. These two guys have done an outstanding job of building this business into one of the best of its kind in the country. I'm very pleased to say all our wines were very well received. I do believe the time will come in the near future for some of our products to be represented by their Bounty Hunter organization, as well as be served in their on-premise restaurant within the same building on First Street. This is also the same location where we are looking to open a second Napa Valley Vermeil tasting room.
Having Paul Smith with Tom and me really adds to our tasting experiences in that he can answer all questions, point out all nuances of each variety being poured, plus help personalize the wine making process with the client. It was obvious yesterday that buyers like details I can't always supply. Also, I think it is good for Paul to hear what the potential buyer is saying as they evaluate our wines. Ryan and Paul were very knowledgeable wine tasters; so receiving positive feedback was great!
Ryan Hughes, a wine scout (salesman) stopped in to say hello because he recently joined Bounty Hunter after 12 years in Philadelphia working as the Philadelphia Eagle Mascot on game day. I think he's called the Bird Man. I will be back in the Napa Valley as of August 30th to spend 20 days working the harvest, tasting room and attending the Labor Day weekend, Louie Vermeil Classic non-winged sprint car races, and while in the Valley, I plan to go to dinner at the Bounty Hunter with the Luvisi's.
Following the tasting, we drove up the Silverland Trail into Calistoga on our way to Santa Rosa for our 6:30 pm wine event with the Total Wines Group. Needless to say we stopped in at the Frediani's to say hello to our true inspiration, Jeanne Frediani, owner and creator of Frediani Vineyards. Boy is she ever a special Lady. Ninety-one years young and still 100% in control of the daily operation of a 170-acre prime vineyard. I tease her four children, telling them I've known her longer than they have, in that she was my babysitter prior to ever becoming a Frediani. Mary Sue gets her energy from her mother; I get my inspiration from her.
On to Santa Rosa, which is only a 35-minute drive. The Total Wine event was being held at the Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa (2777 Fourth Street) as you come into Santa Rosa. The Oakland Raiders used to train there in years past, and now they train in Napa. Twenty-Four wineries were set up, by invitation only, to pour for approximately fifty managers and assistant managers of Total Wine stores from all around the country. There are now up to 82 stores and counting. The wineries represented were not the "big name" organizations that surround they area. They were more like "us", anywhere from 500 cases to 5,000 cases. I enjoyed tasting the other products and visiting with the people involved, because we all share the same experiences. Mary Sue was already on-site and had our table all set up and ready to pour when we arrived. She also brought my replica Lombardi Trophy that ended up being a big attraction, providing photo ops for football fans.
The Total Wine Store managers and staff came across as very impressed with our wines ('08 JLV, '08 Cab Franc, and our '09 XXXIV), many of which have been selling all three wines all along since Tom Ward got them placed a year ago. I left there last night thinking that if the tasters there have anything to say with what goes on inside their stores, our wine sales will go up and we will have a very good chance of adding some of the other varieties, such as our Zins and Sauvignon Blanc to their shelves. The managers also liked our new sales promotion standard with "yours truly" on it, along with a bottle of '09 XXXIV. It might end up being a good attraction to our display area.
Following the event, about 9:00 pm, Tom and I headed back to the San Francisco airport to stay at the nearby Hyatt so our transition would be easier this morning. We made a quick pit stop at the local Carl's burger place for a BBQ chicken sandwich (surprisingly good) to eat on the way back to San Francisco.
On to Kansas City on the 16th, and I hope to see you there.
Thank You Bounty Hunter. Thank You Total Wines for allowing us the opportunity to show off our wines.
June 28, 2012
A great time was had by all! Approximately 140 people showed up for our Valley Forge Casino, Vermeil Wines Dinner last night, and experienced an exceptionally well-organized and wonderfully prepared wine dinner. Chef Michael Infererra did a great job of preparing our menu, and his staff did a nice job of serving it. My wife, Carol, said this ranks up there with one of the best wine events she's attended with me. I've included a menu for your reading. You might end up being sorry you weren't there! Maybe next time!
Anna Schneider, general manager of the Pacific Prime & Viviano restaurant within the casino, coordinated the event with Martin Doyle, VP of Food & Beverages, and our own Tom Ward. It was easy to see how well the three of them worked together. Tom presented an overview of what to expect from each wine up front, rather than waiting for each one to be served with each course. This approach helped speed up the evening and seemed to work well. Following an introduction by Ron Jaworski, my old Eagles quarterback, I presented a summary of how and why we are in a Vermeil wine business. The Philadelphia people love Ron Jaworski, so they automatically believe everything he says, but there's a reason we call him "Jaws". Mike Quick, our all-pro wide receiver was also there to visit with all the fans in attendance. Ron and Mike were great together on the field years ago, and even better last night.
Kimberly Scarpone represented the Southern Wine & Spirits distributor organization that handles VWG/OTE wines in the Philadelphia marketplace. Kimberly covers the state casinos for SW&S. Having her there was good for us because she could hear first-hand how much everyone enjoyed Paul Smith's wine making abilities. While circulating tables, a number of people said they were looking to join our Coach's Club. I sure hope a few follow through.
Normally when I leave an event like this I have a sense of which wine was most appreciated, but last night there was a good buzz about all the wines. Anna and Martin sent everyone home with a nice wine bag and a bottle of our XXXIV Proprietary Red that really had'em smiling as they walked out the door.
If the size of a smile on a person's face and the crowd noise level is a good indicator of a "fun time was had by all," then VWG/OTE and the Valley Forge Casino hit a grand slam last night.
Tonight I head to Flemings Steak House in Wayne Pa. to fulfill a contribution of being auctioned off at "Fred's Foot Steps" (Fred DiBona) Charity Golf Outing for a "Dinner with Dick Vermeil and his Wines." Sixteen people are attending, so we raised good money for the charity.
Thank you to everyone involved. This is an event we will do again.
June 26, 2012
Thursday night, June 21st, Tom Ward and I helped host a Vermeil Wines Night in conjunction with the 2012 President’s Gala for the Greater Vineland (NJ) Chamber of Commerce held at the New Greenville Inn/Eastlyn Golf Course. This is an annual event in which the Chamber honors those business people in the community who have excelled throughout the year. The “Business of the Year” award went to Chemglass, Inc., an organization started by the Surdam family years ago, and it is still family-run today. Dave Surdam accepted the award for all the family members in attendance. While all this was going on, Vermeil 2007 Syrah and 2010 Semillion were poured so everyone could taste prior to ordering other Vermeil Wines off the wine menu. VWG/OTE 2003 JLV was available along with our 2008 XXXIV and our 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.
Whenever I get in the Vineland, NJ area, I always stop by the Tom Pontano family farm to visit, tell hunting stories and load up on Pontano vegetables. Needless to say, Tom sent me home with a pickup-truck load of goodies. Nicky Basile, a Pontano family friend and wine and spirits salesperson, purchased a table for the Pontano family for the evening event, so we were able to share more time that night. Two hundred and fifty-five people got to taste our wines, both in the pre-dinner cocktail hour and during the dinner itself. Tom Ward did his usual good job of presenting our wines during the dinner, and I followed up with a twenty-minute combination speech/question and answer session to close out the evening.
Order forms were placed on every table so the people could order wines following the tasting. I believe we picked up a few Coach’s Club members in the process, and sold some wine at the same time. Glenn Davila of Performance Marketing was also in attendance to help Tom and me market our wines. Glenn has been with us from the start so we appreciate his help.
When you put all the facets of the evening together, I would say we experienced a very good VWG/OTE business and goodwill evening, though the highlight for me was sharing time with the Pontano brothers and Nicky Basile.
The brand new Greenville Inn and Eastlyn Golf Course facility is a very nice venue, and I’m sure under the leadership of Bob Buono, owner and dedicated Vermeil Wine drinker, it will be a very successfully run organization.
Wednesday night, June 27th, Tom and I take our road show to the Valley Forge Casino for a Vermeil wine dinner promotion. I’m not a gambler, so I will be home early.
June 14, 2012
It has been awhile since I made an entry into our Coach’s Corner in that Carol and I were guests of Crystal Cruise Lines and Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula and his wife Mary Anne. We left New York on May 8th for a 16-day cruise and docked in Dover, England on May 24th with major stops in Iceland and Norway. We had a great time with a great cruise line and wonderful people. The legendary dean of NFL officials, Jim Tunney and his wife were also with us on the trip. I never realized a referee could be such a great guy. (Just kidding!) All three of us made a presentation at different times as we cruised, but otherwise it was all relaxation and sightseeing.
Last night I got back in the swing of things promoting our VWG/OTE wines at a downtown Philadelphia event held at the Union League. The event was hosted by PriceWaterhouse/Cooper under the leadership of David Ryan, a top member of their management staff. David invited approximately 25 clients and partners to the wine dinner. The Union League has been pouring our wines for a couple of years now—Thank You—but I brought along eight bottles of our newest releases to taste, just to show how our wines have continued to improve. The Union League poured our ’06 JLV, ’08 XXXIV, ’07 Frediani Zin, and our ’07 Sauvignon Blanc. I backed those older vintages with our ’08 and ’09 JLV, ’09 XXXIV, ‘10 Frediani & Luvisi Zins, plus our ‘11 Sauvignon Blanc. I’m pleased to report that the wines were very well received and I will be very disappointed if we don’t end up with some new customers. Thanks Paul Smith! Our wines are really getting better.
The men involved in the PWC tasting were a very professional, sophisticated and successful group working in the financial world and I really enjoyed sharing time, wine and stories with all of them. Thank you David Ryan for your efforts in organizing an evening that gave me the opportunity to promote VWG/OTE wines and to talk football with some very bright fans.
Until next time!
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Last night, Saturday May 5th, Tom Ward and I invested seven hours pouring our VWG/OTE wines at the 11th Annual Philadelphia Wine Festival put on by the PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board). The event was held at the Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles) stadium. It was so much better than where they held it last year. There was more room to move around for all the people throughout the day and easier for people who are really interested in tasting wine from all over the world to circulate. All stations were organized alphabetically. Philadelphia copied how it had been done in Pittsburgh for years using the Steelers’ stadium. Tom attended Pittsburgh’s event Thursday night. I couldn’t make it. They also held the same event in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Friday night—an event we elected to pass.
The first two hours of the show, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., were set up to host the local restaurants, hotels and bars. Those organizations choosing to attend sent their representatives in charge of purchasing wine and spirits, and they went around and looked for products that should be added to their respective wine and spirit menus. Believe me when I say, there were a lot of products to evaluate! Most of the very big names in the Napa and Sonoma valleys were on hand to show off their new vintages. The likes of Caymus, Mondavi, Silver Oak, Shafer Vineyards, Ridge, Joseph Phelps, Stags Leap Cellars, Ferrai Carano, Heitz Cellars, Grgich, Patz and Hall, Paul Hobbs, Plump Jack, Seghesio Family Vineyards, Sonoma-Cutrer, Trinchero Family, and many more were all pouring their best stuff! I’m proud to say, from listening to all those coming by our station, VWG/OTE competed with the best. We were pouring our 2008 JLV Cab, 2009 Luvisi Zin, our 2009 Proprietor XXXIV Red Blend, as well as our 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and our 2010 Semillion. All wines received very positive comments. Paul Smith should have been there; it would have helped him gain confidence in everything he is doing.
At 5 p.m., they opened the doors for VIP’s, special guests, and just interested and serious wine drinking fans. From 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., people were lined up three and four deep at all the tables, including ours, sampling everything being offered. Each table was allowed to sell one of their products. We sold our Luvisi Zin, which sold out quickly. The inside stadium State Liquor Store sold all five cases they brought to support the event. Don Luvisi, Luvisi Vineyard owner would have appreciated the positive vibes the 1908 vineyard received. Don is also a VWG limited partner. Great to have him on our team!
It was fun for me to be able to go around and say hello to all the Napa Valley representatives. It brought back many great memories of my live in the Valley,
During our quick lunch break, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Anna Pepgjonaj, the Silver Oak, Twomy Vineyards representative. She brought me up to date with what is happening in the Silver Oak organization, as well as good insight to what is going on in my old home area. I also had a very nice visit with Amanda Giddings, manager of the local Capital Grill. They sell a lot of steak and wine, and our VWG/OTE wines will soon be on their wine list. Thank you Amanda!
Also adding VWG to their wine list is the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware. Richard Slutter and his wife spent a lot of time at our concession and said they were definitely adding our wines to their list. The Hotel DuPont is a great, old, beautiful hotel where I’ve enjoyed many fine meals over the years. Thank you Richard!
I can’t sign off without saying how much fun it is to share conversations with Eagle fans attending an event like this, especially after they’ve tasted at many of the tables prior to arriving at our VWG/OTE table. Remember, “V” is close to the end of the alphabet. So many nice people, so many loyal fans! Hopefully they will become VWG/OTE fans soon.
At 9 p.m. they started blinking the lights, sending the signal they were closing down. There were a few people who came by our table whose lights had started blinking much earlier.
Needless to say, Tom Ward did his normal great job. We are very lucky to have him quarterbacking our team. Talk about work--Tom was at Pittsburgh’s event Thursday night; drove to Columbus, Ohio the next morning to pour for a potential distributor; then drove to Philadelphia from Columbus to help me on Saturday. A great team player!
Before I close, let me say a fee was charged to attend, and all money raised will be used to benefit the many needs of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Therefore, a special “Thank You” goes out to the PCLB, the Philadelphia Magazine, and premier sponsor, Lexus of the Delaware Valley.
Also, “Thank You” to Chuck Silio of Southern Wine and Spirits, our local distributor. Chuck has been very supportive and has been looking for ways to expand our presence in Pennsylvania. James Short of the PCLB has also said they will make sure our wines are in the key stores throughout the area. Thank you both!
Thursday April 19th - 21st, 2012
I'm on a plane flying home from a three day trip into St. Louis to both market our wines and to try and make a contribution to Mike Jones's fund raiser at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO, the state capital. If you remember back to Super Bowl XXXIV, Mike was the linebacker who made the final tackle of the game on the one-foot line to save our victory. Mike is now the head football coach at Lincoln University, just having completed his first year of a major rebuilding effort.
I was picked up at the airport by Sean McKeon of Major Brands, a representative of our St. Louis region distribution company. Sean is their fine wine supervisor and a super person. He goes above and beyond to help me when I get into the St. Louis market area. Our goal was to be at the Country Club of St. Albans by 5:30 to take part in a Vermeil Wines Night dinner event, but since we had three hours to kill, Sean organized two restaurant stops prior to getting to St. Albans. Our first stop was in Creve Coeur to pour our wines for Carmelo Gabriele, the owner/operator of IL Bel Lago City Place, Italian restaurant and bar. It is located at 11631 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur, MO 63141 (314-994-1080). What a great guy to sit and taste with. This family has been in the restaurant business in St. Louis for many years, so he knows what he is doing and what he is tasting. I didn't get to eat there, but I would bet the food is excellent, and I will look forward to a VWG wine dinner the next time I'm in town. Carmelo is a very serious, knowledgeable taster, and I'm pleased to report that he was very complimentary of Paul Smith's winemaking efforts, and he will be adding at least three of our products to his wine list in the immediate future. Carmelo is one of those guys who makes a great first impression, so I'm looking forward to establishing a positive business relationship as we move forward.
Following the IL Bel Lago stop, we headed over to meet Shannon Hughes, another major brands representative at the Table Three Restaurant. Table Three is located in the Wildwood Town Center, 16765 Main Street, Wildwood, MO (636-458-4333), and it is owned and operated by Beth Williams. Beth owns and runs three venues, so she is a very busy lady. I could tell right away she is a no-nonsense, get-to-the-point person with strong leadership talents. This Table Three restaurant is her newest conquest, and you can bet with Beth coaching, the team it is going to be a winner. She's the type of person who, if she doesn't like your wines, it will only take a short time before she tells you. I respect that! Fortunately for me, Sean and Shannon, she liked our wines. Her ex-husband and close friend was there and tasted right along with us. He works for White Rock Distillers in Wisconsin, but spends a lot of his time helping his "ex" run her three restaurants. We hit it off right away, in that he was a former Oklahoma State football player (long snapper), and we enjoyed the football side of our conversation as well. He was very complimentary of the wine poured: 2006 and 2008 JLV Cab, 2009 Frediani Zin, 2008 XXXIV, 2007 Frediani Cab Franc and our 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. I think when all is said and done they will add at least four of the wines tasted-a nice compliment to Paul Smith!
Following this stop, I walked across the street and checked into my hotel so I could freshen up and get ready to head out to our Thursday main event: the St. Albans Country Club Dinner.
St. Albans is a beautiful area and a quality country club!! Lewis and Clark camped right in this area as they headed west, so the area is very rich in history. I'm disappointed Carol and I never spent time in this area while living in St. Louis-a beautiful spot!! The club is located on 101 St. Albans Road, PO Box 5, St. Albans, MO, 63073 (636-458-3060). David Derfel is the GM there, and he welcomed us with open arms when we arrived. He had everything very well organized. Nichole Deluca assisted him in hosting the vent as the evening evolved. She was a #1 pick.
David's organization of the event was different from the setup at past country club events I have attended. They started out by pouring our Charbono and Sauvignon Blanc as a warm up to a formal sit down, six different wine tasting event. The wines were placed on a tasting table on place mats listed 1 through 6, and it was my job to escort them through the six wines and discuss them individually as well as give them a little history of our VWG Company and family. It appeared to go well and the 50 or so people tasting asked many good questions. When this phase of the evening was over, we all headed to assigned tables for our sit down dinner. The executive chef, Paul Frintrup and his executive sous chef, Chris Mueller, prepared beautifully displayed and prepared multiple food station tables where we could all roam and select how we wanted to match the food and the wines served. As I said, different from my past country club experiences, and in many ways better. The menu is included so you can see for yourself how good the choices were!
Two of the couples attending had already been in our tasting room in Calistoga and really enjoyed the visit with Mary Sue! Good Job Mary Sue! Also attending were former St. Louis Ram organization friends including D'Marco Farr, my defensive tackle and his wife Suzie. Don Bryant of Bryant Family Vineyards, who lives in St. Louis, was also in attendance. Don and I became friends when I was coaching in St. Louis. All of you serious wine people know that Bryant Family Vineyards wine is always in the top three produced in the Napa Valley each year. Thanks for supporting our event Don! He is a fan of our '08 XXXIV.
By the end of the night, 12 cases of wine were purchased and Dan Derfel proceeded to add them to his wine list. Thanks again Dan! You did a great job!
Back to the Wildwood Hotel. Before hitting the rack I stopped in and had a brandy with Beth and Bob at the Table Three Restaurant I had called upon earlier in the day. Good people who will do a good job with our VWG/OTE wines.
On Friday morning, April 20th at 8:00 A.M., Brian Ulione (a St. Louis Ram friend) picked me up along with Cliff Frazier, a former UCLA player of mine, and we headed to Jefferson City to participate in Mike Jones day of fund raising for Lincoln University. It is a 2-½ hour trip, so we had a good chance to catch up. With Cliff having been the defensive MVP on our '76 Rose Bowl game, and having spent three years working with Brian, we had plenty to talk about.
I spoke at their luncheon, visited their new weight room and then got prepared for a VWG/OTE wine tasting cocktail party at the university president's home. We had a fine time tasting and getting to know each other-real nice people with real love for their university and a strong desire to help Coach Jones get their football program going in the right direction. From here, we headed over to the football stadium where they had erected a very big tent in which the "Casino Night" was going to be held. Again, Vermeil wines were served along with other "goodies." The dinner was served by Mike's football players and they really did a good job. I could really see what a challenge Coach Jones has, in that most of his team members serving dinner as waiters were shorter than me! Wow! The casino gambling party was fun, but to me the highlight was the music. A six-member band, average age 75, played the entire evening and they were really good--rhythm & blues, jazz, old favorites. A special night headed up by "special" music, plus we raised approximately $50,000. The money will help, but Mike needs a lot more to get to where they want to go. I appreciated being able to give something back to Mike-players win games, not coaches.
On Saturday morning, the three of us jumped in Brian's car and headed back to St. Louis where I was going to hold a bottle-signing event at Friar Tucks Wine and Spirits Shop in Crestwood, MO. The shop is located at 9053 Watson Road, St. Louis, MO, 63126 (314-918-9230).
Prior to setting up shop, I had a brief visit with an old St. Louis friend, Jeff Clark, a local architect with whom Carol and I became good friends while in St. Louis. It's always great to see Jeff. He and his company remodeled our St. Louis townhouse for us, and his wife Carol, an artist, painted our very first JLV label for me. Good Friends. Good People.
Jim McAvoy, the store manager, had the tasting and signing set up and organized when I arrived. In fact, there was a person waiting there that had already purchased a case of '08 XXXIV for me to sign-a great way to jumpstart a three-hour event. Sean McKeon of Major Brands and an assistant did the pouring and I did the signing. We had a steady flow of people for the entire three-hour period. Again, we had two couples drop in that had been in our tasting room in Calistoga and were very complimentary of Mary Sue's contribution to their Calistoga visit. (Keep'm Happy Mary Sue! Thank You.) By the end of the day we sold and signed just a few bottles under 15 cases of wine, most of which was '08 XXXIV. I wonder why. All through these recent events, I hear a very positive ground swelling for the appreciation of our 2008 JLV. More and more people are recognizing how good this wine is, even if they don't purchase it. Keep it up Paul, and you might make the Pro Bowl this year.
We finished up and Sean drove me back to the airport so I could start my trek home. Can you believe I had to fly to Charlotte, then to Philadelphia to get home? That is why I used the word "trek".
All in all, a good three-day VWG/OTE business/fun trip. Twenty-nine cases sold; wines introduced to a lot of potential customers; a lot of positive publicity and our wines are now the wines of Lincoln University.
April 6, 2012
Bottle Signing in New Jersey
If you have been following our VWG event list you'll already know I spent last Saturday, March 31st and Sunday, April 1st in New Jersey with Donny Sanders of Spirits Unlimited. Work is not hard when it is also fun!
Don Sanders came all the way over to East Fallowfield to pick me up at 9:30 am Saturday in a town car. The driver was a personal friend of Don's, so we had a good conversation heading back to New Jersey for our first wine tasting and bottle signing event at Spirits Unlimited at 495 Route 72 in Manahawkin, NJ. We were there from noon to one o'clock. I had one very interesting visitor. A Mrs. Vermeal came in, introduced herself, purchased a case of our wines, and told me that she is continually questioned about her name. "Are you a relative of Coach Vermeil?" As you already noticed, she spells her name with an "a." Not a relative but she pronounces her name the same. By the way, a very nice lady! After signing four cases of wine, we headed over to Plaza Wines & Liquors, 260 N. County Liner Road in Jackson, NJ. This store is run by Paul Tarantino, not a partner in the Unlimited group, just a co-op buyer of wines with Don's group. We were only there for an hour, but we did get some action, sold about two cases of our wines and met some loyal Eagles fans. I must admit, this is North Jersey, and there are far more Giants fans in the area. Well anyway, we did our thing (I say we because Donny Sanders was going along with me), then headed over to stop #3 in Toms River. The Spirits Unlimited shop in Toms River is located at the Cross Roads
Center. We spent one and a half hours there doing the same thing, though because it was later in the day and people were getting off work, the store was busy. Not a lot of wine buyers, but enough to keep us busy. Toms River is a big sports-minded community. You might remember Toms River won the Little League World Series in 1998 and has remained very competitive. I met some very nice people who really enjoyed Paul Smith's winemaking abilities. They were all very complimentary and expressed excitement about spreading the word that, "Vermeil wines are very good." When Don and I finished up there, he took me over to the Island Beach Motor Lodge in South Seaside Park, where I was going to spend the night and have dinner at the restaurant in the adjoining building, The Atlantic Bar & Grill. This restaurant is very good, try it! I would recommend it to anyone. Joe Leone is the owner and a good friend of Don Sanders. Donny's wife, Stacey, joined our group of nine people for dinner along with some of their old friends. Needless to say, we had a very good time. Kristopher Greene, the chef, is a first round pick!
Sunday started out with a breakfast at the home of Stacey's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Donnelly. Their home is located at the mouth of Toms River in the Back Bay area. We had a nice visit, sat out on the deck and enjoyed getting to know each other. Real nice people! From there we headed to Monaghan's Liquor Store, Don Sander's original store at 1617 Route 37 E in Toms River. It was an older store that Don has recently sold, but they sell more quality wines there than in most of their newer outlets. Next, it was on to the Spirits Unlimited at 879 Fischer Road, also in Toms River; a new shop, very well organized and in a super location. Traffic was slow on Sunday. Tom Ward joined me on Sunday, so I had help throughout the afternoon. At 4:00 pm we headed over to The Serenity Café where Tom and I helped host a very nice VWG dinner organized by Don and Stacey. Greg Manning, the chef and owner, did a great job with a menu that really showed off both his food and our wines! There were about 65 people there, all of whom were friends and customers of Don & Stacey; great people and a lot of fun with whom to share a late afternoon dinner. The menu is included for your own evaluation. Read it and you will wish you were there. In fact, you should stop in and try the restaurant when you get a chance. Their address is on the attached menu.
Donny Sanders said we moved about a pallet of wine over the two-day experience, 35 cases of which were purchased at Sunday's dinner. A pretty good investment of time for our VWG organization.
Don, you went above and beyond your duties to help create a Vermeil wine interest in your market. Thank you very much and my best to you, Stacey and all the people on your team!
April 5, 2012
VWG/Creative Financial Group Wine & Golf Event
I'm submitting a very late entry to my Coach's Corner for a March 7th & 8th VWG/Creative Financial Group wine golf event held at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Country Club in Palm Beach, Florida. I wrote it up following the event then never got it posted. I thought I did, but obviously the "old coach" screwed up again. First mistake I've make since Super Bowl XV. Ha!
Without all of the original details, I just want to thank Bernie Audet of CFG for his efforts in organizing the combined event. Bernie and CEO Joseph Naselli have been very supportive of our VWG effort and I just want them to know how appreciative we are. Well anyway, it was a great two-day event, with great people, golf, food, and especially wine! Thank you.
Again, I apologize!
March 15, 2012
Vermeil Wines Charity Work
I personally get a lot of requests to donate Vermeil Wines to a wide variety of charity events, because my name is on the bottle. I do give a lot to charity organizations, and so does Vermeil Wines and OnThEdge. But we can't support them all. The demands on our time and business would be more than we could meet.
But the one organization I always get involved with personally is the Mary Campbell Center in Wilmington, Delaware. I've been involved with this great organization since 1978. They provide superior lodging and care for about 100 fulltime, special needs individuals of all ages. I help this organization whenever I can.
Friday night, March 9th was just such an event. Carol and I helped host a heavy hors d'oeuvres and Vermeil Wine night at Joey and GiGi Fragomele's home for seven couples. The leader of this group, Mike Wagner of AFLAC in Havre de Grace, Maryland, bid on the evening opportunity at the September MCC Golf Tournament charity dinner while he was there supporting this wonderful charitable event. They won the evening by placing a high bid of $2,000. Last year it went for twice as much, but $2,000 is still a lot of money for the Mary Campbell Center, so I won't complain. Mike said he will bid more next year to make sure he gets to come back!
GiGi and Joey did a great job. They have a beautiful home and are so gracious to open their doors to people they don't even know. Thank you both for all you do! The MCC is not the only charity these people get involved with. GiGi's dad, Ed Richitelli, was on the original board of the MCC and the person who really got me involved. Ed's gone now, so it is great that GiGi continues supporting the Center in honor of her dad's passion.
Fortunately for all seven couples, Mike Wagner rented a small bus Friday night so no one would get in trouble driving back to Havre de Grace. They were humming pretty good. It is always refreshing to be around younger people. I would bet the average age was 42 years old; all bright, hard working, fun loving kids who also are charitable. Thank you, Mike, for hosting your group. We are going to hit you for $5000 next year so work hard.
Until next time, Coach Dick Vermeil
As of right now, my next VWG/OTE event is in Central New Jersey on Saturday, March 31st and Sunday, April 1st. We will post some more detailed information as soon as Tom Ward gets it organized. Hope to see you there.
February 23, 2012
For those of you who follow our Coach's Corner on the website, you already know that Tom Ward and I spent four days prior to Super Bowl XLVI, marketing our VWG/OTE wine in Indianapolis. First I must thank Chris Visser for helping Tom organize our radio and TV appearances. We arrived on Wednesday, February 1st, at 10 am and since we didn't have anything scheduled until mid-afternoon, I insisted we head over to visit the Indianapolis Speedway Museum for a couple of hours. I've been to the Speedway before but Tom hadn't, so I had a good time showing him around and recalling the "good old days" with him. From there we headed to the media center. It was jam packed with radio stations/TV setups. There were so many work stations, you could hardly walk between them in the gym-sized room. I did a couple of radio shows and an NBC Sports channel interview along with All Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez. It sure was great to line up with Tony again!
From there we headed to an indoor facility, where I was the coach of an NFL Alumni flag football team that was scheduled to play a Veteran's Wounded Warrior team in front of a sold out crowd of approximately 500 people. We played seven-man sides and believe me, these Wounded Warriors were not only brave soldiers, they were good players! It was amazing and inspiring to see how well they could move with their prostheses in place. Wow, what courage! I started out the game in tears, but they soon dried and I started smiling out of respect and admiration for these true heroes. These guys asked for no favors, competed their butts off and made some very spectacular plays. They weren't about to take prisoners. The retired NFL QB, Jeff George, was their QB. He can still really throw the ball. It was a great experience and fun was had by all. The Warriors won the game, as they should, but they did get some help from the officials!
Before I move on to our Thursday routine, I wanted to thank Rich Isen and the NFL Network for having me on their mid-afternoon show, and allowing me air time to promote our wines. Rich displayed two bottles of our wines on camera, so you know a lot of people got to see what they look like. He is also a VWG customer and a big fan of Paul Smith's winemaking abilities. Thanks, Rich!
Thursday started out at 7 am and didn't finish up until after 5:30 pm! I must have done 35 radio shows that day. Being in Indianapolis (I guess I'm allowed to use a racing term here), they allowed me to make a few pit stops as I raced from radio station to radio station. No way could we purchas