What a Year!
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What a Year!

Wow!!  What a year!  Honestly, this has been the most dynamic year in our 10 ½ year history at InVINtions, A Creative Winery. 

Our goal every day, is to have our guests inside our winery experiencing wine like they never have before. We strive for a fun, relaxed social, education winery packed to the gills with fellow wine lovers! However, as you all know we had to reverse our business model in the middle of March and immediately begin to rethink our business.  With brilliant minds and fierce determination, we marched on with never before thought of concepts on how to maintain our “winery family’s” social and wine needs.  Coining the term “CO-VIN,” we quickly decided we needed to devise activities and opportunities for our winery family of Members, employees, customers, fans and friends to stay connected, all while enjoying wine, of course! 

Kicking things off on Friday March 20 with our first Zoom Happy Hour—we had an amazing turn out—attended by winery family from around the country, there were laughs, jokes, and a chance for people to voice their fears and concerns.  We came together as we were being forced apart.  The Friday Happy Hours lasted for a couple of months, and only ended when we all decided we were sick of staring at the computer monitor all day every day!  After all, that was the work, social and family environment for all of us. 

Before the end of March, we launched our Wednesday night Stems-Up Wine Education Series (and it begins again this month on January 13, 2021!)!  The Stems-Up adventure was extremely humbling for me; having our CO-VIN family willing to gather on Zoom and listen to me talk about wine for hours on end.  During each event, we enjoyed at least two bottles of wine and learned so much about InVINtions’ wines, wine etiquette, wine making, wine regions, how to pair wine (FYI… cheese balls DO NOT pair with wine!).  During these events, we also enjoyed lots of laughs and inside jokes.   Speaking of inside jokes, if you were reading the version of this that Sabrina helped edit, you would find a different answer about if cheese balls pair with wine!  My admiration and heart felt thank you to each of you who joined the Stems-Up Sessions! I heard from many of you that Stems-Up became your “lifeline.”  Taking excerpts from what many of you have told me, the evenings became the perfect event to look forward to during the lock-down, helped you keep track of the days, caused you to actually fix your hair for the day, and even turned in to a great date night!  We look forward to continuing the Stems-Up series with more wine and of course, more fun! 

A chance meeting in Venice, Italy back in the summer of 2018 led us to meeting Chef Lucas as the COVID shutdowns ravaged not only the United States, but Italy as well.  Chef Lucas was an incredible addition to our CO-VIN family.  Lucas, Mattia, and of course Seppi kept our Sundays busy with all the incredible meals we cooked together.  Kicking off on April 19, 2020, right as the grocery stores were completely picked-over and many people were wondering how long before we could get basic staple supplies again, we rallied our troops and were even able to secure groceries for those who participated in the first Chef Lucas event!  It was immediately clear, these events were a favorite of our CO-VIN family, so we cooked throughout the year with many Lucas(isms)—“Shut up Seppi!” “Let’s look at the Map”, “Flacid P….”( you know what that dough looked like!) and of course, my personal favorite, “That is Shiet” (not quite sure how to phonetically spell that one, but it was worth a shot!)  I was yet again floored by the response to the Cooking with Lucas Series.  As Lucas recently said to Cory, “the winery kept me going in 2020!” It is each of you who helped make a difference around the world!  Lucas’ Cookbook had its American launch at the winery and soon Lucas will premier his second book as part of our next series of Cooking with Lucas beginning in February 2021.  Call the winery for details.

Never knowing where the next lock down, restriction, rule, or challenge was coming from, we carried on.  Determined to remain creative and give our CO-VIN family a place (albeit on-line) to gather, socialize, commiserate, and keep some perspective on everything going on around us.

Our largest CO-VIN family gathering came in May.  I had been looking forward to InVINtions’ 10 Year Anniversary for the last couple of years.  After all, it was only as a result of years of dedication and determination that we made it to this monumental occasion!  I wanted to throw the biggest bash in the Winery’s history with all of you, but once again, we had to shift.  So, our CO-VIN family stepped-up to join us for the most unconventional 10th Anniversary party we could have imagined.  Guest staring Denver Bronco Legend and NFL Hall of Famer, Steve Atwater, and live from Nashville Singer/Songwriter Kent Blazy and his lovely wife Cindy, over 150 of our CO-VIN family joined us on Zoom for hours on the evening of the actual 10th Anniversary.  Kent and Cindy serenaded us for hours with so many Country hits—it was an incredible evening.  With a little help from our long time friend, and professional winery lighting expert, Scott Hittelman, we even had fireworks!  Thank you to all who were there to celebrate with us!

The winery reopened to the public (restricted of course) in early June, Linda Anderson was our first Wine Club Member (and CO-VIN family member) to toast our “reopening,” and many of you came flying in right after.  We had missed you all so much and it was a refreshing sight to see the family coming back together, in-person.  It was a very emotional time for the winery staff, we wondered and hoped you all would want to be back after a long hiatus.  Not only did you want to be back, you wanted wine too!  Our team has worked tirelessly in an attempt to keep the “new” level of drinking fulfilled, as most of us increased our wine intake substantially, and our shelves are still playing catch up!  Issues with being able to get produce from around the world along with the impact of the California Wildfires and of course, COVID, made it impossible to have all of the wine available on a timely basis.  We have committed ourselves in 2021 to ensure that does not happen again. The VINtage Collection 2021 is going to be the best since its inception in 2014, and we are already working on refreshing the wine list for 2021!  Look forward to many new wines early in 2021!  Another program many of you do not know about is the Secret Cellar program.  Well, that is because it is a “Secret,” just like the name indicates.  If you want to know more, you’ll have to stop in to the winery and see if you can talk one of us into telling you about it!

When I think back to how 2020 started, I am reminded that we kicked the year off in early February with an amazing First Quarter Wine Club Party, The Speakeasy.  That evening was the launch of our “Best of the Last 10-Year Wine Club Party Rewind!”  Our Members enjoyed an incredible night of dressing up, casino games, photos, and tons of fun!  That was the idea for the other six parties planned for 2020.  Well, as we know that didn’t work out, so we shifted again.  In September, we kicked off our Wine Club Get Togethers!  It was great fun to have a limited number of Members in the winery one night each week for the month of September.  It recharged us and filled our hearts with hope and love.  We hosted the Grand VIN Members Wine Makers’ Dinner, with a Four-Course meal prepared by one of our favorites – Chef Mehdi.  The meal was exquisite and we released two of our Barrel Collection wines, the Spanish Senorita and the Barrel Trinity!  The Charter Wine Club Party was a full wine stem education of how to pick the right glass for the wine!  In the past 10 years, this was voted the best Charter Wine Club party of all time, so at least we were able to have one additional “Best of the Last 10-Year Wine Club Party Rewind!” parties.

As a result of renewed shutdowns and restrictions, we were unable to host a winter Wine Club event, but we are optimistic 2021 will be different!  The brain trust of creative minds at InVINtions is hard at work planning our 2021 events to entertain, educate, continue to bring us together and provide the best wine experience in town!

Reviewing some of the ways 2020 attempted to put the winery out of business and tear us apart from each other, 2020 also allowed us to be brought to each other in a whole new way.  We conquered the rough times, developed new friendships, and are rising from the ashes of 2020 to grow stronger as friends and family in 2021.

My sincerest wishes to all of you and your families for a healthy, fun and social (yes, in-person) 2021.  Your efforts to keep InVINtions, A Creative Winery operating during one of the most difficult times in American History will never be forgotten or underappreciated.  You saved your winery!

With much love and gratitude.

Cheers,
Marcus Tipton



© 2020 Carriage House, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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