2020 was a hard year – for all of us. It is easy to spot the thorns: COVID, Lockdowns, supply chain disruptions, and fires – to name a few. But, we have all experienced these pains, so it’s best not to dwell on them. We think it’s much better to look at the roses we found along the way.
Rose 1: The lockdown was a reminder that we live in a wonderful community. Our Valley came together to support the restaurants and wineries that overnight had to adapt to a take-out business model. Home delivery, curbside pickups, and cocktails to go became the norm in the early days of the pandemic.
Rose 2: Sidewinder learned how to make hand sanitizer! In the early months of the pandemic, we converted our stills from whiskey and gin to distilling hand sanitizer for first responders and our customers. Sidewinder Lounge, once filled with people, now filled up with aloe plants and assorted herbs as we explored ever better ways to sanitize and soften your hands at the same time.
Rose 3: We bottled some great wines in 2020, including some old favorites like Anglica, Malbec, and Fumé Blanc. We also crafted some new blends: Still Point and Dos Mesas, two labels we have been developing for several years.
Rose 4: The pandemic provided the opportunity to harvest some new cultivars from a stellar vineyard. The Mourvedre, Syrah, and Grenache we harvested from Shake Ridge vineyard will allow us to create a GSM blend next year, as well as add a single varietal bottling of Mourvedre.
Rose 5: By luck, we avoided smoke taint from the fires that ravaged our vineyard lands. Shake Ridge was well away from the smoke, and early harvest of our white wines kept us smoke free in 2020. We did lose out on our Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast – but there is always next year!
Rose 6: We learned to Zoom – sort of. Sidewinder hosted some well received tastings, and we did a couple of zooms from the winery. We might continue zooming on a limited basis for our out of area customers, but really hope that in 2021 we can return to in-person experiences.
Rose 7: Our Sidewinder website went live. If COVID did anything positive, it spurred us to move online. If you have the time, check it out.
Rose 8: We released our Rye Whiskey! Once again, we have a whiskey to offer our customers. It is a single cask of rye that was finished in our Tawny port barrel for some added richness and complexity.
Rose 9: We bottled our 2020 Rosé of Grenache! Personally, I think this Dave’s finest yet. The fruit came from Livermore’s Fong Vineyard and the harvest came in right on the numbers! And though we weren’t able to get our customary Hock Bottles (bottle shortages are rampant right now), we did get a perfectly suitable clear Bordeaux bottle. It looks scrumptious.
Rose 10: We developed bottled cocktails. Going forward, we are adding some 200mL Oslo bottles to our portfolio to provide sampler sets of our distilled spirits as well as nicely bottled cocktails you can take home with you. TTB has approved quite a few of our cocktail formulas, so when the bottles arrive in Spring we can start production.
Rose 11: We used the pandemic to become more creative. We decided to produce our first sparkling wine from our Malvasia. No ordinary sparkler from us – we are producing this using the traditional method of bottle fermentation – méthode Champenoise.
Rose 12: On the last official workday in 2020, the TTB approved our formula for Sidewinder Absinthe!
2020 may have been a horrible year, but still we managed to pull out a dozen roses. Look out 2021 – here we come!