That’s why we started a new business—Alit—in 2015:
to better connect wine drinkers to the people and place.
The only place you can get Alit wine is from us, which means we have to have a conversation.
We bought a
vineyard in Sonoma
in 2005. But I was soon persuaded by
that, because of the climate and geology, I could make
more interesting pinot noir in Oregon
than I could in
California. We leased the Seven
near Salem in 2007
and were partners until 2012, when I
started Chapter 24
*He’s the vigneron—winemaker—at one of the great domaines in France’s Burgundy region.
By our having
no retail, the consumer saves
percent but our profit is the
same. A $50
becomes $27, or $15 for Alit
pay $100 a year to buy the wines
at cost. We’ll
soon hit 1,000 members, and
revenue grew 80
percent last year.
Also in 2015, my consulting winemaker, Louis-Michel Liger-Belair—a magical
vigneron—and I took a look at Chapter 24 and said, “Is this interesting enough?”
As in Burgundy, we thought, there must be Grand Cru–quality terroir* in Oregon.
* Terroir: Nerd-speak for the interplay of grapes, soil, and climate that gives a wine a unique sense of place. “Grand Cru” vineyards are those that France has designated as having the greatest terroir—and many wine
geeks prize the terroir in Burgundy above all others.
Business was good. The conversation people were having around
wine was not.
I have two Millennial daughters, and wine bewildered them. They want transparency; they’re not
big on “take my word for it.”