10 medium intensity questions with Dennis Carroll, Head Hooligan at Wine Hooligans, a group of California winemakers and aficionados dedicated to promoting artisanality and authenticity. Get to know Dennis better with this fun Q & A.Read More
There is so much that I admire about how Steve Jobs built companies and products but there is almost nothing I admire about him as a human being, with the exception of one thing: his “uniform.” This week, Head Hooligan Dennis Carroll talks about the merits of "decluttering" your wardrobe with one of the most iconic men of the 21st Century, and one less famous but nonetheless "one wardrobe" kinda man.Read More
"I have been driving for over 40 years. I calculate that I have driven well over a million miles. Sadly, what started out as a love affair has deteriorated into a hatred for everything about driving, including cars." Head hooligan Dennis Carroll on his love/hate relationship with cars and the heyday of the American automobile.Read More
If you have several business publications in any news aggregation app, you have seen an unending stream of articles that list the 5, 10, or 15 steps to “becoming a successful entrepreneur." If you read all these articles and try to analyze the various “qualifications” you need to be a successful entrepreneur, you will run out of time to become one.Read More
Most businesses spend a lot of time, money, and energy trying to take uncertainty out of their business models. If you have ever worked in a publicly traded company, you know that the stock market builds a company’s forecasted results into the future stock price. When actual results don’t live up to forecasts, the company’s stock price is punished. Unfortunately, there are events far outside the control of companies…things like presidential elections.Read More
When you make and/or sell wine for a living, you accept the fact that you most likely will need to submit your products to wine publications, competitions, newspapers and bloggers for review. You don’t have to submit your wines to these entities. There is no statutory law that says you have to submit your wines for review. There is a much larger law at work…the LAW OF THE MARKET.Read More
There are events that happen, that make me stop and think in broader terms than business or the wine industry. The news of Muhammad Ali’s death was one of those events.
The passing of Muhammad Ali marks time for anyone who grew up in the 60’s and the 70’s. Time moves so fast, life goes on and sometimes it takes the passing of an icon to slow a person down and put life into perspective.
I was too young to remember Ali’s fights with Sonny Liston, his conversion to Islam, his conscientious objection to the draft or the stripping of his title which cost him four years in the prime of his career. I do remember his return fight against Joe Frazier. The hype for the fight started long before the March 8, 1971 fight date. It was the first large sporting event I remember making an impression on me.
In the 70’s there was a sports program on ABC called “Wide World Of Sports”. At the time, it was the gold standard in sports reporting. It also was where most of the boxing analysis on TV took place. This is where I first remember seeing Ali. He was loud, boisterous, contentious, funny and verbally combative with opponents and TV hosts. He was about as far away from the standard athlete of the day as you could be. To be honest, as a 12 year old boy raised in an environment where professional athletes were expected to be grateful they were paid to play a game, Muhammad Ali was not the boxer my family rooted for. We were happy when Joe Frazier won that fight on March 8, 1971.
As the world and I learned over the next five decades, Ali was so much more than the loud mouth athlete that swam against the conventional tide. He wasn’t perfect, and I don’t think ever professed to be. However, he was unquestionably committed to his beliefs, even if those beliefs were unpopular and ultimately cost him such a large part of his career. How many professional athletes, or anyone else for that matter, would take those stands today? We would be hard pressed to find one.
Over those five decades, Ali won over all his critics. His beliefs became the mainstream, not the outlier. He arguably became the single most beloved human in the world. He helped change America for the better, as almost all historical figures ultimately do if they are on the right side of history.
Let’s hope someday our political leaders will have the courage to risk paying the price that Ali was willing to pay, and do the right things for our country. America has changed substantially since I was that 12 year old boy, and it will continue to change. Disagreement and dissent are part of our history and will be part of our future. This is the “uncomfortable” reality of our Republic.
Let’s hope that all points of view will be presented without having to have a safe zone, i.e. a fantasy land, where no one disagrees or says things that are contradictory, hurtful or in some case filled with venom. If you have a strong point of view, you will encounter equally strong opposing points of view.
Ali presented and lived his point of view. Eventually the world loved him for it. There is a lesson in there from an American from Louisville, KY who had a unique athletic talent, only dwarfed by his unique talents as a human being. He eventually converted a 12 year old boy and his family into fans, along with the rest of the world.
Wine and Food are forever linked together. The evolution of the food culture has evolved hand in hand with the evolution of the wine culture in the United States.Read More
The college football world has the Championship Bowl Series. The wine industry has its’ version of this matchup, UC Davis vs. Fresno State. These two California state public colleges have produced most of the winemakers in the United States. If you are not from California you are probably not familiar with the distinction between the UC colleges and State colleges.Read More
I have been an observer and participant in the change of the retail landscape in America for over 35 years. As a CPA in the 80’s, I saw the explosion of specialty retailers. I worked for Touche Ross, once the premier CPA firm for retailers. I saw the beginnings of many power house retailers of the 80’s and 90’s that transformed where and how we shop today (a little thing called the inter-web has changed it again and will continue to change it).Read More
I noticed about 10 years ago, most of the people in the office were younger than me. Then, year after year I began to notice many of the people in the office, and people I was dealing with outside the office were about the same age as my boys. It suddenly dawned on me…I had become the “old guy” in the office.Read More
There is nothing that scares me more about shopping in a wine store than the “German Wine” section. I am your average American wine consumer. I am used to seeing simple wine labels with images of animals, vineyards, people, art, etc. on domestic wine, with simple varietal information and maybe some regional information included on the label. German wine labels take a different approach…
I don’t speak German, but holy moly that’s a lot of words on a label. I feel like they are commanding me to buy the wine. I usually run out of the German wine section as quickly as possible due to the feeling of inferior wine knowledge.
Behind the wine and the labels is the German wine structure:
No, it’s not a new entry in the periodic table or plans to build a weapon of mass destruction. It’s a diagram to help understand German wine. Yikes. No wonder the labels are scary.
Germans never seem to do anything the easy way. I know, I’m German. My maternal Grandmother (Meta Goetz…now that’s German) and all our relatives of that generation spoke German more often with each other than English, so I got a good dose of German-ish culture growing up. I also got a close up view of the German mentality. Most of my uncles were farmers in the midwest. You have to be a physically and mentally tough person to succeed at that life. When I think about the family characters I have met throughout the years and taken my own behaviors into account, it’s not surprising to see why German growers decided to plant vineyards (yes, yes I know the Romans started it, but Germans took it to a ridiculous level) on the side of a steep hill. Leave it to Germans to figure out the hardest place to put a vineyard.
I mean, honestly, who puts a vineyard on the side of a steep river bank? Who else? Germans. Like all things German, the vineyards are very precise. I have only walked through a few of these riverside bank vineyards, but I can tell you they are as steep as they look in the picture. I am sure they are difficult to pick. Just the way the Germans like it.
Someday I will conquer my fear of German wine and not embarrass my German relatives. So to all the Goetz, Dittmer, Fuchs and Meinike family members out there, I apologize.
For right now, I’ll stick to the domestic wine isle and hope Meta Goetz isn’t looking down at me with disdain!
I have spent the majority of my life since graduating high school, “at work”. My college “experience” consisted of riding a bus into San Francisco, coming home and studying in my parents two bedroom apartment, while working in the paint department at Sears (Yes, that Easy Living semi-gloss paint will work great in the bathroom Mrs. Smith). Since graduating college, the past 35 years have been a journey through corporate America, Wall Street and startup ventures. All requiring an obscene amount of hours and energy. Don’t cue up the violins. I am a hard headed German with a streak of Irish stubbornness. In many cases, I made my journey harder than it should have, or could have been.Read More
For the past 10-15 years anyone who sells consumer products has talked about the Millennials. My three sons are part of this huge demographic group that represents the spawn of the Baby Boomer generation. Now this Millennial generation is coming of “consumption” age. Generally they are doing it later than my generation did. They stay in school longer, marry later and start having kids in their 30’s. To date, Millennials are a mysterious group when it comes to consumption.Read More
E mail is a wonderful communication tool for “numbers” and “fact based memos” (just the facts, ma'am). It has made efficiencies in the workplace possible over the past 20 plus years. It has eliminated the need for most formal business letters. However, email has a dark side. A really dark side. I call it c-mail. The "c" stands for cowardice and confusion.Read More
The nerve center of every company I have ever been involved with is the accounts payable department. You probably would have expected Sales, Marketing, Merchandising, Human Resources, etc... Your last choice was probably the lowly accounts payable department. I mean, all they do is push paper and pay bills, right?Read More
Working in a Company is sometimes like being in a family. There is a hierarchy in both families (or at least there was in the 60’s and 70’s when I grew up) and companies, you have peers which can be like having siblings and you have to tolerate personal idiosyncrasies of siblings and coworkers. However, there is a huge difference…you can get fired from your company. To the best of my knowledge you can’t get fired from your family.Read More
Most of the wine sold in the U.S. is packaged in 750ml bottles with a cork closure. I would give an exact percentage, but once again Finn the black lab, my fact checker, is taking a nap (Finn is awake about 2 hours a day). Just take my word for it based on traveling around the country and spending an inordinate amount of time in retail stores selling wine. There are plenty of other alternative packaging offerings in stores.Read More
People who start companies are not “normal.” They start companies for a variety of reasons. Some are successful at it, and some are not. There is a segment of these people that I refer to as “miners.” It’s a term I made up years ago to try to explain the behavior I have witnessed and/or read about by people who start and (to the benefit and detriment of the company) stay involved in running the operations and interacting with the employees of the company.
I have often wondered why wine isn’t as fun as spirits and beer. For example, let’s compare the advertising for spirits and beer to wine (if you can find any advertising for wine). If you watch TV, read or attend events you will find spirits and beer advertising portraying pool parties, football/basketball/baseball games, bonfires on the beach, big houses, “keggers”, vacations, Jägermeister girls, Jello shots, Rat Pack, Moscow Mules, music festivals, happy hour…and on and on and on.