It's been a little while since the last post so I thought I would provide an update on how things are coming along here at Covered Bridge Cellars and what we've been up to lately.
Website - Currently, this is the big project that we are trying to complete (and also one of the reasons the blog post have been a little sparse lately!). We are building the site from the ground-up ourselves and have pretty much finalized the template we are going to use. There are just a few more design elements and page layouts that we need to nail down before we can add the final content though. Designing a website is not easy, especially for people that know just enough HTML and CSS to be dangerous, but fortunately the clean, no frills look we are going for doesn't require elaborate coding. It's more about making sure everything looks right in all the different browsers out there (and finding out which hacks are needed and which are not) and that the navigation and usability is user centric in every way. At this point I would say we are 70% finished. Once the site is "complete" we can then proceed to "stage two" which entails integrating Crushpad's user account/online ordering engine into our pages. Before we "officially" launch we plan to make the site available so people can check it out and give us feedback on bugs, things you like/hate, etc. We'll keep you updated.
Logo - We really like our logo but have been a bit stumped on what color, if any, we should integrate into its design. Should we keep the bridge logo black or change it to something else? If so, what color works for the image we are trying to present. This issue came up when we sat down to sketch out the layout for the website and started thinking about what the heck it was going to look like--color, navigation, content, etc. The strong green you see on the blog is simply a color that seemed good at the time, but not one we are sure we'll keep using. With the logo, we did some experimentation in Photoshop and after a little while we came up with this for a color scheme:
For now we will keep the blog colors intact but are going to switch out the black logo for the black and gold one. I hope to do this soon as I have some other blog maintenance "tasks" I need to also take care of.
Labels - In the near future we plan a full series of post about the development of our labels. The entire process has been quite involved and iterative, mainly because we were communicating solely via phone and email with our designer and also because we wanted the end product to be up to our standards. Our original designer at Crushpad left as we were finalizing things for the printers so that sort of set us back a bit. We got back on track quickly though and our new designer got us to the finish line in terms of being able to submit final labels to the TTB and to the printer!
COLA Approval - Speaking of the TTB, it seems that the first try at submitting our labels was rejected because of the way we presented some information on the back label. Actually, it was more about what we didn't include that was the issue. See, our labels don't have any flowery language or romance copy on the back, instead, we are providing very complete technical information, which, when it comes to the TTB we have learned that they can be very picky about these things. The issue was relatively minor and related to the use of the phrase 33% New French Oak. The TTB folks wanted the numbers related to the barrel information to add up to 100%, so, we added 66% Neutral Barrels to the label in order to satisfy their request. After that small change, approval came within a few days.
Networking - You may have
noticed the Open Wine Consortium badge on the left side of the page
near the bottom we put up recently. The OWC was formed very recently as
an online social network for wine industry folks--actually, anyone can join you don't need to be an industry participant. There are currently
about 1000 people on the site. We have been making a ton of new
connections and hope to make many more. The wine industry is close knit and this kind of interaction through technology is opening up additional avenues for collaboration and growth. This site, in fact, grew out of a bloggers group on Facebook, which is how we found out about it. Cool stuff!
The Wine - So what's up with the juice? Well, we had some barrel samples sent to us a few months ago and everything is coming along nicely. The Pinot is really starting to evolve and the chardonnay, which hadn't been showing much at all when we tasted it a mere four months into barrel when we visited Crushpad, is starting to really shine. Most notably, the distinct and concentrated honey aroma that is a hallmark of fruit from the Alder Springs vineyard is starting to become much more pronounced and integrated with the other flavors. Both these wines I think reflect the minimalist approach we were striving for and hopefully will continue to get even better as we approach bottling.
So there it is in a nutshell!
Jeremy & Casey