John Anthony Truchard Podcast 57 MINUTES

A new podcast series from Doug Shafer about the people behind the food and wine you love.

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Doug Shafer and John Anthony Truchard

Before John Anthony Truchard started high-end brand, John Anthony Vineyards, or his runaway brand JaM Cellars, he was a kid growing up working in vineyards with his dad, Tony Truchard. It’s been a long, crazy journey to the success he enjoys today.

For more on John Truchard visit https://www.jamcellars.com/About-Us


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FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Doug:
Hey everybody, Doug Shafer, uh, back with another episode of The Taste. And,  excited about our guest today. It's a guy who I know, um, and I don't know. And it's like we've just been talking and something's really wrong about that because we've run in the same circles, but we don't seem to intersect. It's, uh, John Anthony Truchard of John Anthony Vineyards and JaM Cellars.
             
Welcome my friend.

John Anthony:
Thank you, Doug. Glad to be here.

Doug:
Glad you're here. I know we ... I need to start out before we get going. You know, I really want to hear a lot about you, but I've got some Truchard stories to tell.

John Anthony:
Great.

Doug:
And ... and you probably know about them. But, Shafer Vineyards and myself, I started purchasing grapes from your parents, Tony and Joanne, back in the early going. And we've ... I got word that there was this great grower down in Carneros, but it wasn't really Carneros. It's in this fantastic micro climate, like warm Carneros. So, it's great. I started buying Merlot from them, I think I bought some Chard. And then, um, went a ... a number of years without buying grapes from them, like maybe close to 20 because we had our own vineyards. But just ... I'm not sure if you know this, for the last two or three years, we started buying Syrah from them again.

John Anthony:
I do, yeah.

Doug:
So, it's sort of a kick to get back with your folks. But I mean, this is back in the 80's sometime. Your mom used to deliver gondolas of grapes, just like my mom used to delivery grapes in gondolas, those big old heavy things driving down the road.

John Anthony:
That's right.

Doug:
Um, I gotta tell you, if you never met this John Anthony's parents, they're two of the nicest people in this valley. They are fantastic folks, they're good people, they grow great grapes, and they're ... working with them is a joy.
             
And what ... I was thinking about you last night thinking, "You know, I never knew the kids." Because I'd be down there sampling grapes or talking to Joanne and Tony, I was thinking about what year it was, what year it was. And then I had a ... one thing I ... I'll never forget. It had to be '86, '87 because this is back when Elias and I were ... every time we decided to pick a vineyard, we'd second guess ourselves all day long. "Okay, we're going tomorrow. You think it's right? I'm not sure. You think it's right." So some ... a lot of times, we'd actually go out late afternoon or the night before our schedule to pick, just to taste it one more time. Just to ... to do it one more time.
             
And I'll never forget it, I had my daughter, Katie who was born in '85, and all I can remember ... all I remember is she was in a front pack, in ... on me in a front pack ... by the time I got down there, it was dark. It was in the fall, six ... six o'clock at night. I'm out there with Katie in a front pack, he's giggling, and it's in the dark. I've got a flashlight, sampling grapes and tasting them and she's giggling and I'm feeding her grapes.
             
So, I know when I was buying those grapes, it was '86, '87. So that means you had to be like how old?

John Anthony:
12.

Doug:
12?

John Anthony:
Yeah, I was born in '72, so I was probably about 12, 13 years old at the time.

Doug:
Wow. So you were 12, and here I am, you know, trying to figure out how to make wine and, uh ... that was my time check. Because I was trying to figure out last night, what was the year. And then the Katie thing kicked in. Um-

John Anthony:
Yeah. I remember those. Uh, I was probably at least half those trips. Because my parents, they would try to schedule the picks on the weekends, because we were living in Reno at the time and coming down to Napa. And so I ... I was, uh, co-pilot. You know, I was the person doing the pins and the uh-

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
You know, the electrical cord on the back of those, uh, Suburban and the Blazers.

Doug:
Make sure ... Yeah, remember those electrical cords, how they always short out and everything.

John Anthony:
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Doug:
All right, but let's go back. You take it away. You, um, your mom and dad are from Texas. How the heck did they end out here in Carneros, which is Southern Napa, beautifulest place to grow grapes?

John Anthony:
Yeah. It's kind of a-

Doug:
Tell ... tell me the ... tell me the story.

John Anthony:
It's kind of a fun story. Well, you know, there's ... Even before that, my great-grandfather, uh, was in the wine business in Texas.

Doug:
No. No no no. They didn't ... they didn't have a wine business back that far?

John Anthony:
Yeah, they did.

Doug:
I know they do now. Okay.

John Anthony:
So, like, in 1888, my great-grandfather, Jean-Marie Truchard, came over from Lyon, France. They bought 500 acres, planted 20 acres of vines, built a small winery and they made grapes between like 1890 and the ... the, um, um, prohibition.

Doug:
You're kidding? What part of Texas?

John Anthony:
Uh, Columbus, which is about an hour west of Houston in I-10.

Doug:
Got it.

John Anthony:
Hour, hour and a half west, a little town called Catsprings.

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
And so ... And so, yeah, grape growing had been in our, uh, family for quite a while. Um, you know, there's like the romantic side of the story, and then you ... you dig into it. As I get older you ... you hear more and more and what we've kind of realized was, I think my ... my grandfather was a little bit of a trouble maker back in France. And so his older brothers shipped him out here to put him to work. It was ... You know, you ... There's this vision of like, "Oh, he's a great entrepreneur, he's coming out from France to start a winery." I think he was a trouble maker the older brother was like, "Put him out here, we'll put him to work."

Doug:
Ex ... ex ... exiled to Texas.

John Anthony:
Exiled to Texas, basically.

Doug:
(laughs) Oh, man.

John Anthony:
And so my ... my ... my, uh, grandfather and father were born on that ranch in Texas.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And, uh, father went off to, um, undergraduate and then med school. His last year of med school, ran out of money and he turned to the Army. Uh, the Army paid for his last year of med school. And he owed the Army two years of service.

Doug:
And that ... And was, uh, general practice or dentistry?

John Anthony:
Uh, general practice. He was an internist.

Doug:
Okay. Internist. That's right. Okay.

John Anthony:
And so my parents lived in San Antonio.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
Uh, my father was in the Army. Uh, I have three older sisters, my mom was nine months pregnant with me and they orders to go overseas for their last year of, uh, military service. And-

Doug:
Well, okay. Wait a minute. He had ... he had to go overseas. He took-

John Anthony:
Well, he was supposed to go overseas.

Doug:
He was supposed to.

John Anthony:
But that actually never happened.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
What ended up happening, my mother goes to a, uh, a Piggly Wiggly's to get some last minute supplies-

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
Before I was born. On the ... on the way out of the store, she slips on a grape, of all things, breaks her leg and, uh, she's in a full leg cast. And so my ... my dad goes and says, "Hey, can I get delays in my orders to go overseas because I've got these three little girls, my wife's in a full leg cast, she's due any ... any day now." And they said, "Instead of sending you overseas, we're going to send you out to California, the west coast."
             
And so, it was kind of a ... a literally a slip on a grape and a twist of fate that got my parents out here in the first place.

Doug:
You ... You've got to be kidding me? You ... Come on, you made that up. You just had made [crosstalk 00:08:19]-

John Anthony:
Uh, you ... you would think. What's crazy is-

Doug:
I'm calling Joanne. I'm calling your mom.

John Anthony:
Yeah. And I don't think ... I think the first time I heard the story, I was like ten years old, I'm like, "Come on. Really? Like, a grape?"

Doug:
That's crazy.

John Anthony:
And they were like, you know ... And it's ... My parents aren't really into fate. You know, they're just hard workers and they put their head down and they just go to work.

Doug:
So ... So they've moved out ... So he was moved out and stationed in California.

John Anthony:
Correct.

Doug:
And you were ... you're the oldest.

John Anthony:
Uh, no, I've got three older sisters.

Doug:
Three older sisters.

John Anthony:
Um, and then myself and I have a younger brother Anthony, who works full time at Truchard.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And then my youngest sister, Suzanne.

Doug:
Wow.

John Anthony:
So, six of us all in all.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And we actually lived in Reno from 1974 through 1986.

Doug:
Well-

John Anthony:
And when I say the Army moved my parents to West Coast, it turned out it was Herlong, California, which is really like, more like Northern Nevada, than it is California.

Doug:
I've never heard of Herlong.

John Anthony:
Yeah, well, right. Neither had my parents. And so my ... my dad did some research when he was ordered to go to Herlong and ... and he's like I can't find it on the map, and uh, and his ... his reporting officer said, "Well, of course not, Tony. That's the West Coast nuclear arsenal. We're sending you out there to make sure none of the soldiers do drugs. For a year."
             
So it was a little bit like punishment. You know, it was like ... they went from like thinking that this great, overseas experience, to like being stationed in Herlong.

Doug:
Uh.

John Anthony:
And that's what connected him with Reno, Nevada.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And there was great medical opportunities in Reno. And so, uh, at the same time, he bought the first 20 acres in Napa, 1974-

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
He was thinking about moving to Napa, but the medical opportunities in Reno were great. And so, he was 35 years old at the time and thought, "Well, I'll practice medicine in Reno and start this little vineyard in Napa." And had no idea how much work is involved in starting a vineyard right. It's not like a farm in Texas where you just have the property.

Doug:
So, that was '74.

John Anthony:
1974.

Doug:
We ... we moved out in '73, I was 17. So ... so when he bought that ... It was 20 acres? Or 30?

John Anthony:
20 acres of old prunes. No vineyards.

Doug:
20 acres. So he ... Did he start farming it right away?

John Anthony:
He did.

Doug:
So he was this ... Because this is ... When I first started working with them, they were still doing the commute.

John Anthony:
Yup.

Doug:
So for 12 years-

John Anthony:
That's correct.

Doug:
They commuted week ... every week from Reno to the Napa Valley.

John Anthony:
That's correct. For 12 years from 1974 through 1986, they made 50 trips a year for 12 years. About 50. About every weekend.

Doug:
And that's like ... it's four hours one way, easy.

John Anthony:
Uh, it's uh three hours no stop. But ... but we had ... there were six kids in the car and two dogs, so you had to have a stop, right. So it was three and a half with the stop.

Doug:
What kind of car?

John Anthony:
Uh, it started off as a ... as a Blazer.

Doug:
Yeah, I remember those.

John Anthony:
And it was like, when we got the Suburban, it was like, you know, euphoria. "Oh, my God. There's a seat for all of us." (laughs) I was sitting on those, like, console. You know, that center hard, plastic console of the old Blazers? That was my seat.

Doug:
I don't know how you guys did that.

John Anthony:
Man, you just ... you don't know any different. It's what you do.

Doug:
I ... I guess.

John Anthony:
But it was a total blessing, Doug, because ... because the fact that every weekend my family came to Napa, I was pulled away from soccer, baseball, sleep overs, all my friends. And so I was just with my dad out in the vineyards and so I had a chance to really learn grape growing first hand, right ... right there with my dad. And he was a farmer from Texas that loved to get out and get his hands dirty. As you well know, right? I mean he was-

Doug:
Oh, still does.

John Anthony:
He still does, right.

Doug:
We [inaudible 00:11:42] ... Elias and I pulled in the other ... this last ... this last harvest, we were sampling the Syrah. And there's your dad out there, you know, overseeing loading ... loading the bins and all that.

John Anthony:
Oh yeah. He was actually loading the bins.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
He's not overseeing. He's actually loading the bins.

Doug:
Yeah, he's on the forklift with the thing ... It's like, "Hey Tony." "Well, hey Doug. How you..." I was just like ... just like, you know, time had stood still for 20 years.

John Anthony:
Yeah, that's real special that they're now selling to Shafer again. That means a lot to them.

Doug:
No, it's neat.

John Anthony:
And I thought that was really cool.

Doug:
Yeah, we love it.

John Anthony:
Yeah.

Doug:
And you so something else. You know what's great about them, they're really fair. You know something? I mean, grape prices have gone just crazy and all of a sudden I'm talking to your mom, we were figuring out the price, she goes, "Oh, Doug, that's fine." I said, "Joanne, that's not enough." She goes, "No, it's fine. We're good." I ... I love it.

John Anthony:
Yeah.

Doug:
It's just ... you now.

John Anthony:
They're a great barometer, right. When you want to ... if you want to get a sense like where the tonnages are in the valley, I can talk to my parents and with, uh ... They have 400 acres of property, 270 planted, you get a good sense of like, you know are ... are ... are tonnages high this year, are they low this year. If you want to get a sense of like ... And for them, they've been in it now for, um, well since '74.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And so, they ... they realize, like, "Hey, you know, what you want to do is you want to do right by your partners." And these grower ... these wineries are our partners and ... and yeah, if the prices go up we want to have our prices go up, too, but we don't have to have the highest price-

Doug:
Don't

John Anthony:
But they just also don't want to have the lowest price.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And just do right by them and they'll do right by you.

Doug:
Oh, no. Straight-

John Anthony:
It's pretty simple.

Doug:
Straight shooters.
             
All right, so you're hear in ... Well, so when you guys made the permanent move in '86-

John Anthony:
Yup.

Doug:
You're how old?

John Anthony:
At the time I was ... Well, in '86 I was 14.

Doug:
Got it.

John Anthony:
So, I was born in '72, so I was 14. So I was ... I was entering my sophomore year in high school.

Doug:
So you went to high school in Napa.

John Anthony:
I did.  Vintage High. I graduated in 1990.

Doug:
And you ... Did you know ... you know David Illsley, our vineyard manager?

John Anthony:
Absolutely. Yeah, David's class of '88. Yeah, he was the tight end. He was the, you know, one of the, you know, the star athletes on the-

Doug:
Well, he's ... Yeah. He's got his whole history. I gotta get him in here some day and tell ... tell his story.

John Anthony:
Absolutely.

Doug:
But, uh, so Vintage High, graduated and then where?

John Anthony:
So, then, uh ... At that time I ... I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. I wanted to, probably like a lot of kids that were ... um, grew up around Napa, I wanted to ... to get out. And uh, I ... I liked the wine industry, but I didn't really know, you know, what else the world had to offer. So, um, went off to University of Nevada, Reno for, uh, for a year.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And then transferred down to San Diego State. And it was ... it was somewhere during my second year at San Diego State, it ... it dawned on me, like, "Wow. If I can find a way to create a life for myself in the wine industry, that'd be a great life to live." Right? And maybe it just takes getting away from something. You know, it's like the unsatisfied need motivates.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
Right? When you're around it all the time, it's all you know, you don't know otherwise and probably after being away for two years-

Doug:
And were your ... were your folks making ... I'm interrupting. I apologize.

John Anthony:
That's all right.

Doug:
Were your folks making wine at that point? Truchard Vineyards?

John Anthony:
They did. They're first vintage was 1989.

Doug:
Okay, so-

John Anthony:
They crushed at ... Uh, the first vintage was crushed at Honig. And uh-

Doug:
With Michael. Yeah.

John Anthony:
And um, James Hall, was the ... I think the-

Doug:
James.

John Anthony:
Yeah, was making the wine at that time.

Doug:
Okay, so they had that going.

John Anthony:
They had that going. '89 was their first vintage and then 1990, um, my senior year, was the first year they crushed grapes at Truchard, but that was ... that was actually in the fall of 1990 and I graduated in, like, you know, in the previous year. So ... that first crush I was off to college, but I would come back ... I'd come back all the times I enjoyed it.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
And I realized, like, I want to go back home. I enjoy being around it.

Doug:
Right. How fun.
             
All right, so you're down at San Diego State, you're thinking about getting in the wine business.

John Anthony:
Yeah.

Doug:
Thinking about getting in the wine business.

John Anthony:
That's right. So I was kind of thinking, "okay, I think I'd like to do this." And ... and so, the plan at the time was to change my, uh ... um, to change schools. So I transferred to UC Davis.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And uh, I was pre-med at the time. And my goal was to go ... to go to med school and then ... and then I wanted to get my undergraduate degree in wine making and ... or fermentation science at the time.

Doug:
Right. Right.

John Anthony:
And, uh, and go off to med school. And it was probably after a couple years at Davis and I did some, uh, volunteer work at hospitals and I realized I really don't want to go down that path.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And so, I dropped the pre-med component of it. And uh ... and uh, um ... and it was actually a very interesting time. So I was ... I was actually taking my fermentation science classes, and I got to a point where I had to, um, for my upper division, I had to select, uh, what units I wanted to take. And one of the questions ... one of the options was like, uh, barrel selection. And I was ... I was in my apartment in Sacramento, and I started thinking about, like, "Well, I mean, I was brought up around the grape growing side of the business. I understand that really well. And I understand what I do and don't know. But I don't know a lot of ..." And I ... I'd been near the wine making side.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
But I don't understand, like, the business side of it. At all, really. And um, and I started thinking about the successful wine businesses, and I realized, like, they grew great grapes and they made great wine, but they were also successful business people that ran those operations.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Anthony:
And so I called my mom and I said, "I'm going to change my major to economics." And my mom said, "We're only paying for five years.' (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs) I can see that.

John Anthony:
So, okay. Yeah. Exactly.

Doug:
I can hear her saying that.

John Anthony:
You transferred schools now a couple times, and ... I was pretty consistent on the science platform, so I hadn't lost a lot. But, so I changed my, uh, my ... Well, effectively it was my senior year, I changed my major to economics and I just kind of started from scratch a little bit, you know.

Doug:
And so ... so how much ... So how long did you stay in ... How many years in economics?

John Anthony:
Yeah, so ... seven ... seven years and then, yeah-

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
I might have a class or two I still need to finish up at Davis. I'm not quite sure.

Doug:
So you took a bunch of econ and business?

John Anthony:
I did. I did.

Doug:
You know, I'm jealous, because I only took one econ class, Econ 1A and halfway through, I was like, "I gotta take this pass/no pass" (laughs) Remember that?

John Anthony:
Oh, yeah.

Doug:
I love pass/no pass.

John Anthony:
Yeah.

Doug:
But the only thing I ever really remember about it is supply demand. You know.

John Anthony:
There you go.

Doug:
That ... And you know something? That's actually helped me a lot.

John Anthony:
That's right. You guys got that equation right. That's for sure.

Doug:
But uh ... Boy. Okay.

John Anthony:
Yeah, so, uh, so finished up at Davis and then ... When I was there, it could be-

Doug:
Well, so why ... I'm sorry.

John Anthony:
That's okay.

Doug:
Was ... Did you like it?

John Anthony:
Uh, the business side of it?

Doug:
The ... Yeah.

John Anthony:
Yeah, I did. Um, it ... it ... it helped me to at least get a framework to think about things. Again, my father was a doctor, my mother was a school teacher and my father was a farmer. And it just became really clear to me that, uh, farming is different than business per se. I mean, you have to be ... I think successful farmers are also good business people, but when you start making wine, it just gets ... it gets a lot more complex. And then you start marketing it-

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And distributing it and the complexity that goes up a lot.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
And ... and that's not what my parents' background really was at the time.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Anthony:
And so, um, uh, Davis was pretty, uh, theoretical by nature, but uh, but yeah, it gave me a great framework to think about ... to think about things.

Doug:
To start thinking about.

John Anthony:
Yeah.

Doug:
Okay, well that ... that's a ... a precursor to some things I want to ask you later about, good.

John Anthony:
All right. All right.

Doug:
(laughs)
             
Um, oh, jumping back to high school. Vintage High, you met some guys. The BottleRock guys. Now, I have to jump in, here. For those of you that don't know, Bottle Rock is this fantastic three day music culinary arts, in a way, festival.

John Anthony:
Right.

Doug:
That's held ... It's in the fifth year now, I think?

John Anthony:
For sure. It was 2013. So whatever that makes this year, yeah.

Doug:
'13, so about fifth year. So, for Memorial Day Weekend, it's a three day deal, um, I uh, I'm proud to say I finally went last year. Because, you'll be happy to know this, my 16 year old came to me and said, "Dad, Tom Petty's playing and I want to see him with you."

John Anthony:
Nice.

Doug:
And at first, I was like, "Ah, the big music festival is not my scene." And then I thought to myself, "Wait a minute. My 16 year old kid is asking me to go to Tom Petty with him."

John Anthony:
And it's at Napa.

Doug:
Well, it's in Napa, yeah, I didn't have to drive too far. And we had a gas. I loved it.

John Anthony:
Nice.

Doug:
So, um, going back this year. He's running around on his own, but my 13 year old daughter is going and I'm ... She said, "I'm going with my friends." I said, "No. You're going with me." (laughs) So, but uh, it's fantastic.
             
So who ... These guys.

John Anthony:
Yeah, a really interesting story there.

Doug:
Dave and Justin and Jason.

John Anthony:
Yeah, that's right. Dave Graham, uh, Justin Dragoo and Jason Scoggins. So, it actually even goes back a little further. I met Justin in Reno, Nevada when we were like three years old at the YMCA.

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
Yeah, it's kind of crazy. The ... the history on it's nuts.

Doug:
You know, I love this. Wait a minute. Reno, Nevada, three-

John Anthony:
Three years old, YMCA.

Doug:
And, but you don't remember meeting him, do you?

John Anthony:
No, I don't.

Doug:
Okay, all right. Just checking.

John Anthony:
But then what happened was my ... my ... my mom and his mom became good friends. And then my father and his father, Mic Dragoo became good friends. And they used to come down and visit us in Napa. And ... and ... and I even-

Doug:
From Reno.

John Anthony:
From Reno. Yeah. And because Mic liked making wine. And so he'd come down to Truchard and make wine. And so Justin and I kind of grew up-

Doug:
You kind of grew up.

John Anthony:
A little bit, before ... before either of us moved to Napa. And then he moved to Napa ... Uh, Justin Dragoo moved to Napa in like the, um, it was like the 4th grade or 5th grade. And so I would start, um ... we would come down and visit and I'd hang out with Justin. So I got to know a lot of those guys before I even officially moved here.

Doug:
Lot of his ... A lot of his friends.

John Anthony:
A lot of his friends.

Doug:
Because you're hanging out on the weekends.

John Anthony:
Exactly. And he happened to live right across the street from Michele Crane, who is now my wife, Michele.

Doug:
Ooh.

John Anthony:
And so yeah, it's like a really small little world. But it's kind of crazy.
             
And so, I met Jason, uh, Scoggins and Dave Graham in, uh, in high school. So we went to high school together. All the class of 1990. And then, uh, for 12 years, I also did a ... My day job was in the, uh, the Tech space or the dot.com space. And Dave Graham and I worked there for a number of years, together. Uh, became close friends, um, and he was best man in my wedding and we worked with Jason in those days. And ... and so, yeah, there's a ... there's, uh, very much a shared history there of us working together, knowing each other.

Doug:
Wow. And I bet you ... I bet you guys were at your folks ranch on the weekends, riding-

John Anthony:
Oh, yeah.

Doug:
Riding Hondas. Just tearing it up.

John Anthony:
Oh, yeah.

Doug:
Yeah. Ah.

John Anthony:
Yeah, fishing, riding Hondas, getting into trouble when my mom and dad weren't around, for sure.

Doug:
Oh, and by the way, JaM Cellars, one of your opp ... one of your fantastic wineries-

John Anthony:
Yup.

Doug:
Is a major sponsor for Bottle Rock. In fact, you guys sponsor the big ... It's the big ... What's it called? The Big Stage? Or it's called the JaM Cellars Stage?

John Anthony:
Yeah. Well, we ... it's ... we're actually presenting sponsors.

Doug:
Presenting spon-

John Anthony:
So, it's uh ... Yeah the first several years ... The first year, we shared a tent, that was in 2013. And then ... Version 1.0 of Bottle Rock failed and it was ... And Dave, Jason and Justin kind of came in and resuscitated it. So I call it, you know, the new and improved version or 2.0.
             
And so 2014 was their first year. We did a tent in 2014, uh, 2015 we were, um, second stage sponsor and then we've been, uh, presenting and main stage sponsor for '16,'17, then in '18. And uh, you know, I remember the first time, that was two years ago, three years ago, they presented the idea of us being the um, the uh, um, presenting sponsor which is, you know, it means you're on the advertising, all year round.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And ... and our VP of Marketing, Sarah, said uh, she walks out and she's like, "Well, there's no way in hell we're going to do that." I'm like, "Well. Let's just think about it." Because you know, we like the ... we like the idea of supporting it. Plus it's a neat way to tag our brand with a ... with a great, um, festival, and get our name out there. And you can only tell someone to buy your wine so much, right. But if you can help support other cool things and ... and benefit each other, that's a good place to be.

Doug:
You guys have killed it. Just killed it ... What a great story. I mean, kids goofing around on the weekends and now you're ... I mean, for those of you who don't know about Brow ... Bottle Rock, there's ... I think they're talking about 120,000 people coming this year.

John Anthony:
Oh yeah.

Doug:
I read it in the paper today. You know, they've been working on the ... setting up the stage for weeks, if no months.

John Anthony:
That's correct.

Doug:
And everything on ... You know, it just transforms downtown Napa. 120,000 people and it just, you know, you three knucklehead kids. Or three or four knucklehead kids putting it together.

John Anthony:
I know, man, yeah. That's right. I think it's been named like one of the top ten festivals in the United States. It's like probably the ... I think it's like the highest, like, per person, um ... revenue per person. Because you've got such great, um, food and wine, right? It's almost like Aspen food and wine with ... with like-

Doug:
With really good ... with great music.

John Anthony:
A music festival associated with it. Because you've some of the best chefs in the world, some of the best wines in the world, and then you also have some of the best music in the world. So it just ... it's a really unique. Where most other music festivals don't have that food and wine component.

Doug:
the food thing.

John Anthony:
Not even close.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
That's what Bottle Rock does.

Doug:
Yeah, the food was great last year. That blew me away. I didn't ... I expected the wine to be pretty good, but, uh, the food was neat.

John Anthony:
That's right.

Doug:
And it must be kind of fun ... I'm pretty sure you're a big music guy, so you're meeting some of these performers and celebrities and stars, that must be cool.

John Anthony:
It's great to have them come to Napa and see ... and hear them play. We usually end up having so many of our, um, business partners there, we uh ... you know we spend a lot of time in hospitality. It's almost more of a working event for us, than a true ... Probably four or five years ago it was more fun, and now it's more work. But uh, but we have a great time regardless.

Doug:
Good. All right, so, step back. So, the business thing ... What led you back to wine?

John Anthony:
Yeah, so um, again probably it was ... It was probably my, uh ... After I switched my major over to econ at Davis and ... and uh, I knew I wanted to get in the wine business, but you know, what does that mean? Right. The challenge of the wine business is like-

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
If you want to make your own wine, it takes a lot of time and money and I was ... I was 22 years old at the time. I had ... I had a lot of time. I had no money, at all. Zero.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And so I remember I ... I came back from, uh, this ... I'd quit this crappy internship I had and I'd came back to my apartment where my wife, then girlfriend, Michele and I said, "Here's my plan. I'm going to ... I'm going to start a little vineyard management business. I'm going to take those profits, I'm going to start leasing my own vineyards. Then I'm going to take those grapes and start making wine. And uh, you know, by  ... You know, and then we'll build up, produce and grow our own grapes and make wine." And Michele said, "That's great. How long is that going to take?" And we were like 22, I'm like, "that's the best part, baby. It's only, like, going to take like ten or 15 years."

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
I'm like, "We'll be, like, in our mid to late 30's, we'll be in the wine business. Self sufficient." And she looks at me like, are you ... are you crazy? She was like, "I'm going to go study for my Biology test. Good luck with that." And ... and-

Doug:
So you started leasing grapes.

John Anthony:
Well, I first started my little vineyard management business, because I had no money to lease.

Doug:
Oh, you did. Yeah, okay.

John Anthony:
Yeah, so I started, I just went out, I waited tables up at Compadres.

Doug:
And you knew how to run a vineyard because you grew up with your dad, who's a great farmer.

John Anthony:
Yeah. That's correct. And ... and what I didn't understand was how to run a vineyard management business. But I met with three people that were super, super um, generous with their time. Uh, Mike Walsh, Doug Hill and Oscar Renteria.

Doug:
Oh, yeah.

John Anthony:
And Oscar was outrageously generous. Even he set me up with his chart of accounts, helped me understand billing rates, tractor rates, equipment rental rates.

Doug:
Well, to this day, he is something else. Yeah.

John Anthony:
He gave me his budgets to help use as a framework and ... and uh, just ... And he didn't know me from Adam at time. We've since then ... Now we're dear friends.

Doug:
Interesting. Right.

John Anthony:
But at the time he was just helping out someone that his dad say, "Hey, this is, uh, good family. Help them out." And he was more than generous. This is how I got my initial framework going.

Doug:
Um, no, I didn't know that.

John Anthony:
Yeah.

Doug:
That's cool. By the way, Oscar Renteria is a wonderful guy and an incredibly successful vineyard manager, you know, out of Napa. And his dad-

John Anthony:
Sal.

Doug:
Started it. Sal started it. And uh, another great guy. We got a lot of good people that living around here. Don't we?

John Anthony:
Lot of good people. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Doug:
It's pretty neat.

John Anthony:
Yeah, so I started a little vineyard management business and effectively was like '97, '98.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And then started leasing my first little vineyards in '99. Started making wine in '03. Uh, Allison Dorn was our winemaker the first five years.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And then sold our first bottle of wine in like November of 2005.

Doug:
Now, did you build winery, or ...?

John Anthony:
(laughs) I did. Yeah, yeah. Uh, no. For me it was very important for us to ... I wanted to plant my own vineyards and grow my own grapes.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
Um, and I realized that was extremely important to the quality, but there was a lot of great, uh, facilities and some of which were set up just for custom crush. Laird Family Estates being one of them.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
So we made our wine at Laird Family for the first five years. And uh, you know when you first get involved in this with no capital, the idea of having your own winery is just, you know, beyond comprehension. Right? I'm like-

Doug:
It is.

John Anthony:
How do I even pay for my grapes. How do I even buy my barrels.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
It was a ... And there was a point where like one paycheck would go to vineyard development the other paycheck would go to barrels. My wife worked at Rutherford Hill Winery as a special events director. Her ... her ... her, uh, salary paid the ... the ... the rent. You know.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And that was it. It's all we had.

Doug:
Well, I'm with you. I gotta tell you something, building a winery is just, you know, it'll put you out of business. I mean, unless you've got deep, deep, deep pockets. Especially these days.

John Anthony:
Right.

Doug:
And so uh, good for you. Smart move, man. Smart move. And ... and it hasn't ... hasn't effected anything, has it?

John Anthony:
No. Though, I mean, there's ... With John Anthony, we have a great little tasting room in downtown.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And we'll take people on little vineyard tours and tastings. But uh ... But uh, yeah, that ... that ... One day perhaps. I think I figure some people come in with, uh, capital and ... And also, it was easier to do 30, 40 years ago.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
My parents are looking to putting a new winery in and what they're spending just to get their entitlements was about what they spent to get their first winery built, you know. And it's-

Doug:
I know.

John Anthony:
Grape prices have gone up, but they haven't gone up that much.

Doug:
They ... they haven't. I remember I was talking to your mom about that when she was going for the permit.
             
Um, so, I gotta ask you this. You ever buy grapes from your folks?

John Anthony:
I have not.

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
I have not, right. And ... and ... and-

Doug:
Oh, come on. You know that I was hoping there'd be a good story there.

John Anthony:
Isn't that crazy? Oh, man. No it was, uh ... Um, yeah, God it was probably a host of ... of reasons for it. But I think one of the main reasons was, uh, I really wanted to grow ... For John Anthony I wanted to grow my own grapes. And so, the grapes all came ... So, all the grapes are going to John Anthony Vineyards, all the vineyards that I selected and farm.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And about half the grapes are vineyards that I ... from property that I leased. And half the grapes are vineyards that I planted for other people and then buy the grapes back.

Doug:
Buy the grapes [inaudible 00:28:14].

John Anthony:
So it's effectively like our estate program, but it was ... in my way of doing it because I couldn't afford to got out and buy the land.

Doug:
Yeah, but they're ... they're your grapes, man.

John Anthony:
They're my grapes. That's right. My root stock, my row direction, my drippers, my scions, my ... You know, I go out and call Larry Hyde and say, "Hey, I want to ... I love your Selene Sauvignon Blanc, can I select some of the bud wood, uh, for Church Vineyards?"

Doug:
[crosstalk 00:28:31]

John Anthony:
And uh, just kind of like what my dad did. I just kind of followed that same pattern and just did it on my own.

Doug:
I got that ... I got that same bud wood from Larry. He's the best.

John Anthony:
Yeah.

Doug:
Well, you know, you've ... you nailed it. Because great quality is what it's all about. You know, we've learned that over 30 plus years here. I mean, if the grapes aren't rocking, and the right grape in the right place and the right root stock, you know, the wines are ... they're going to be good, but if ... to get to that great level, you gotta have that.

John Anthony:
Isn't that true? As a kid, I heard that a lot. And I always figured, oh but there's a black box somewhere in the winery that you can ... you can make it good, right?

Doug:
No.

John Anthony:
And once you begin to realize, after tasting just thousands and thousands of wines, is you realize, like, "Oh, great ... great wines started as great grapes. They've always tasted good."

Doug:
Yeah. And you can see it coming in. You can see it ... You know what it's like. When the first day of fermentation to coming in the door.

John Anthony:
Right.

Doug:
And that's why ... You know, I was lucky enough to be around guys like your dad, who'd farmed for a long time, before I started doing it. And just talking to them. And Larry Hyde was another one. All of a sudden, I'm just like going, "It's a grape. You know, its five tons of Chardonnay, Larry. No big deal." He says, "No, no, no, Doug." And he'd take me out, he'd make me look at them and taste them and walk the vineyard.
             
And your dad would do the same thing. Because I was like, "I want ... I'm going to need to get some more Merlot. And you know, I'm thinking that top of the hill's the best thing, right Tony?" He goes, "Well, Doug," at that point we liked each other, which was nice. He said, "I know you think that's going to be the best, but let me tell you, on this ranch, you need to be over here," or [inaudible 00:29:54]. "So I want you over here in these ten rows." You know, he steered me right. He was a sweetheart.

John Anthony:
Nice.

Doug:
Really cool.
             
So, John Anthony, you've got ... you make some beautiful wines. A bunch of Cabs, some Chards. How many different flavors from John Anthony.

John Anthony:
So, it's ... With John Anthony, when we first started, we started with, uh, Sauvignon Blanc-

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
Syrah, and Cabernet.  And since then we've added a small quantity of Chardonnay, um and also some Merlot. And the main reason we have Merlot is Michele's father had a vineyard that he'd bought and he wanted ... he asked me to lease it and take care of it. And so, it had Merlot on it, so you know, we call it Grandpa's Merlot.

Doug:
Good.

John Anthony:
And it's from Michele's father's place. We'll do, um, you know 100 cases of that or so. But the main [inaudible 00:30:32] for us for sure are our Sauvignon Blanc, we'll do about 1200 cases and we'll do about 3500 cases of John Anthony Cabernet. So, super small production.

Doug:
Nice.
             
So it's John ... The name is John Anthony Vineyards.

John Anthony:
That's correct.

Doug:
Right. And you've got a tasting location in Napa.

John Anthony:
A tasting room in downtown Napa, right. Underneath the Andaz Hotel.

Doug:
Got it.  Okay.
             
So I gotta ask you about Michele. So high school sweethearts?

John Anthony:
Met in high school.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
Uh, started dating our sophomore year in college when we were down at San Diego State. And so ... so yeah, if I ever want to push her buttons, I'll tell her, "Oh, yeah, we're high school sweethearts. We started dating when were like sophomores." And she's like, "Oh, no. Oh, no. That's not true." (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
So, uh, yeah, I guess college sweethearts. Started dating when we were 19 and dated for seven years and got married in 1998 and then, uh, seven years later, had our first son, Hudson. So we have a 13 year old boy, Hudson. We have a nine year old daughter, Libby and a seven year old daughter, Taylor. So-

Doug:
Super. All right.

John Anthony:
So yeah, they keep us ... they keep us busy.

Doug:
You're ... You're ... Holy cow. So, next question. You got a really great little ... You know, you've got your own grapes. You've got good grapes. Which these days, is really important to have. You got that locked up. You're making some great wine. You got good traction. You're married to a beautiful woman. You have one to two to three kids. You're in Napa Valley. Things are good. And then, all of a sudden, I guess it was 2007, what the heck happened? How did this thing come about?

John Anthony:
JaM Cellars.

Doug:
JaM Cellars.

John Anthony:
It was kind of a fun story.

Doug:
I'm like, come on, man. JaM.

John Anthony:
I know, it's crazy.

Doug:
So, it's called JaM Cellars. J is for John, M is for Michele.

John Anthony:
That's correct. JaM is ... Yeah, people-

Doug:
J ... John and Michele. Got it.

John Anthony:
John and Michele, that's where it started.

Doug:
J A M.

John Anthony:
That's right.

Doug:
Very cool.

John Anthony:
So, uh ... So what happened was the recession hit. Right? 2008-

Doug:
2008, yeah.

John Anthony:
And um, and so, uh ... And with John Anthony, we started selling in 2000 ... late 2005. 2006 was our first full year.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
Things were great. 2007, things were great. First part of 2 ... I'm like, I should've done this ten years ago. I didn't know it was so easy to sell wine. And then, recession hit and I was like ... it just got quiet.

Doug:
Oh, man.  It got real quiet, didn't it?

John Anthony:
It got quiet.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
And I had been out working the market, um, I don't ... I just had to do what my parents did. And so we ... I grew grapes and I was involved in the wine making and I went out and I poured and smiled.

Doug:
Got it.

John Anthony:
And I went to trade tastings and to wine maker dinners. And so I started spending some time out in the market in early 2009, and um, I just realized it was a different world out there. Not like a little different, but like a lot different. Right? Like, in Arizona, you're sitting around tables and they're all drinking your wine with no intention to buy it.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
Because it's way too expensive. And they're talking about how their homes are being foreclosed on and ... and it's like Armageddon out there. The last thing they're thinking is buying wine. I'm like, "Why ... why am I even out here." Right? And then you visit the high end wine shops and all the reserve wine's, that's ... they're selling through those. They want less expensive wines, less than $20. The restaurants, they're ... the ones that are still in business, they're seeing the ... they're seeing their covers go from, uh, 150 covers at uh, $75 per person to 75 covers at $35 per person.

Doug:
It was crazy. I remember, you know, Palm Springs there's a Ritz Carlton about to open and it would just shut down. It was like 90 percent done and they just stopped.

John Anthony:
Right.

Doug:
And I think it was kind of boarded up and it sat there for like eight years before they got funding again. Or I remember [inaudible 00:33:46] somewhere like, you know, Colorado or Arizona and there's tumbleweeds rolling through this subdivision that's half built.

John Anthony:
Right.

Doug:
It was frightening.

John Anthony:
Yeah, so then I was this Vit ... I was at this vintner's, uh, ride along in New York and New Jersey.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
It was in 2009. You know, Gary's Fine Wine Marketplace?

Doug:
Yeah, Gary's. Yeah, yeah.

John Anthony:
Gary? Yeah, you know Gary. Of course you know Gary. And he there and he had all the vintners there, and he's like, "All y'all need to make less expensive wines. Less than $20."

Doug:
Oh.

John Anthony:
And I'm thinking to myself, like "All I have is expensive red wine. And about $20 a bottle for cost."

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
It's expensive in Napa. It's just expensive. The grapes are expensive and processing's expensive.

Doug:
Processing, barrels, the whole thing.

John Anthony:
And a little small lot, so your costs go way up.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Anthony:
And uh, he ... I tell him to this day, I'm like, "You planted the seed for JaM Cellars in that speech." And I thought to myself, "Okay." I'm like, "The retailers are so lucky. Because they can just switch on dime." I'm like, "I've got all these vineyards, I've got all these grapes, I've got this wine. I can't just change my cost."

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Anthony:
So fast forward, uh, maybe five months and we had one lot of John Anthony wine that was great, but sometimes it ... sometimes ... sometimes they don't fit ... it doesn't fit in the blend.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Anthony:
Right? You try it and you're like, "It's not bad. It just doesn't fit."

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
And I'm like, I don't want to change my core, um, blend. And so we put it on the bulk market with Ciati.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And normally, at the time, $35 a gallon was like ... that was the going rate. And after a couple weeks, no calls and I needed some cash. And so I call them and I say, "Hey, I'm just curious what's happening on the bulk market."

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
And, uh, they said, "Oh, we're ... we have a lot of Napa wines on the bulk market." And I'm like, "Well, like, what ... at what cost? What price?" He's like, "Oh, you can ... give me a ... give me a number. Like, we've got ... we're flooded with bulk wine."

Doug:
Oh, my ... Oh, man.

John Anthony:
And Rob Lloyd was my wine maker at the time. He was, uh, um ... He and I became friends at our first release party, introduced by Oscar Renteria.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And, um ... And, uh ... And so I said, "Well, can you send us all of the bulk wines that you have that are Napa Cabernet less than $20 a gallon." And like five or six cases of wine show up at my doorstep. So I invited Rob over and we lined them all up and, uh, Rob and I were trying through the wines. I'm like, "Oh, this is the problem. These wines are ... Most of these wines are better than the wine we're trying to sell." And some of the wines were like finished Napa Valley product.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
Like $85 bottles of wine you could buy for $18 a gallon, it was the asking price. Right? At that time it was like, the people just didn't want to bottle the wine. Right? They just ... they wanted it off. They wanted it out. And so-

Doug:
Inventory. Because things were backed up.

John Anthony:
That's right.

Doug:
Because they've got the previous year that's bottled and cased and sitting in their warehouse, or that's sitting in the distributors warehouse.

John Anthony:
Right.

Doug:
And it's not moving.

John Anthony:
Right.

Doug:
So the last thing you want to do is start the bottling machine and case up a bunch more wine.

John Anthony:
That's right.

Doug:
Got it. I could see that.

John Anthony:
So, I'm here telling Rob, I'm like uh ... I'm like, "You know what this means. This is ... This means it's a horrible time to sell wine on the bulk market. But it's a great time to buy wine." Rob quickly says, "Yeah, but you have no money." I'm like, "Right. But what I do have is this 2500 gallons of wine I'm trying to sell. And maybe ... maybe this is just so we should make ... I should make a second project."

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And so, I'm like, there's my $20 Cabernet. And we always knew we would pivot from Napa Valley Cabernet to ... to something else. Wethought we'd have another three or four ... Looking at the amount of wine we could buy, we thought we'd have three or four years of that run.

Doug:
Of Napa Valley bulk wine.

John Anthony:
At Napa Valley. And uh, so then came the name. And we were ... I was struggling to find some cool name. I'm looking at the thesaurus and trying to brainstorm and finally Rob calls me up-

Doug:
I know that drill by the way.

John Anthony:
Oh, my God. Finally Rob calls me up, he's like, "Dude, you're making it too complicated." He's like, "Just call it JaM, short for John and Michele." I'm like, "Oh." Name was available, trademarked it, done.

Doug:
Boom.

John Anthony:
Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that are just obvious and simple, right. So, yeah, I totally give Rob credit for that.

Doug:
So this was 2009.

John Anthony:
This is now 2009. Fourth quarter 2009.

Doug:
Yeah. Which was brutal.

John Anthony:
So, we bottle up 1000 cases of ... of JaM Cabernet. And um-

Doug:
Retail price?

John Anthony:
Uh, it was $19.99.

Doug:
$19.99. Just like Gary said.

John Anthony:
Yeah, so 120 FOB. Yup. $19.9 ... Oh, totally. Hey-

Doug:
I gotta call Gary. I'm going to call him after this.

John Anthony:
Oh, totally. I don't make these very difficult. $19.99? Less than $20. $19.99 sounds like the number, right.
             
And so, we released a 1000 cases and it was gone like in three weeks. And it shipped through and people loved it. And I was like, "Oh." And uh-

Doug:
And were you using ... How you were selling it with your distributors that you already had?

John Anthony:
That's correct.

Doug:
You were already with John Anthony?  Okay, that's ... that's nice.

John Anthony:
That's correct. That's correct. We had the benefit of the John Anthony ... And ... and we have great relationships with them. And they were still selling John Anthony wines. We actually had incr ... We had actually growing sales during those years, but we just weren't selling as much as I wanted to sell. I had more inventory than sales.

Doug:
Oh, they probably ... they probably jumped this and just went crazy.

John Anthony:
Yeah, because we had a great relationship with them. Like, "Oh, finally. Great." And ... and when you look at the labels, it's the same font that ... JaM Cellars font and kind of image was born from John Anthony, but it's fun, playful-

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Anthony:
Uh, youthful. John Anthony's a little more conservative and you know.

Doug:
Sure.

John Anthony:
And uh ... And so, we ... This was the fun part with JaM. So we, um ... So we had the JaM Cabernet, uh, 2000 ... And we started selling that in fourth quarter 2009.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
That same year, I had a client that couldn't sell his Chardonnay. And his grapes. So I was-

Doug:
His grapes.

John Anthony:
His grapes. And I was the vineyard manager, so he asked me to help sell them. And normally, two or three phone calls you find a home for 15 tons.

Doug:
Yes. Yeah.

John Anthony:
So I call ... I call all the ... I call all the standard Chardonnay people. This is what was kind of fun. I call Frank Family, I call Ron Bower, I call John Williams at Frog's Leap.

Doug:
Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

John Anthony:
You know, Raymond ... And every single one of them said the same thing. If you find a home for your 15 tons, let me know, I've got 200 tons looking for a home, I got 400 tons looking for a home. And began to realize, like-

Doug:
God, what a ... what a different ... I forget ... You know, we always forget the tough times. You know, compared to what's going on today, where you just -

John Anthony:
Right.

Doug:
Growers can ... are naming their prices, if those of you don't know.

John Anthony:
That's right.

Doug:
So this was totally different. Okay. So 15-

John Anthony:
And so I could not find a home for the grapes.

Doug:
Oh.

John Anthony:
And so finally, I go to the grower and say, "Well, two options. One is you let the grapes rot on the vine. Second option is that we can bring it in, and we can make some bulk wine out of it. And um ... and we can, um ... We'll recoup your costs. Either way, your farming costs are sunk. We'll get some of your production cost back."

Doug:
At last get ... At least get your cost so you stay in business for the next year.

John Anthony:
That's right.

Doug:
That's the ... That's my goal.

John Anthony:
And he said, "So, you're telling me to ... to make 25, I've got to invest another ten?" I'm like, "Yeah, pretty much. That's what I'm telling you." (laughs)

Doug:
That's why it's going to cost more to make.

John Anthony:
And so ... right. And so, he's like "Okay let's do it." And so, uh, I was making wine over Folio, which is pretty special in and of itself. This is when Michael Mondavi owned, uh, the old Carneros Creek Winery.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
Out in ... Of Dealy Lane. And it was pretty special making, uh, wine there because, as a child, my parents first winery they sold to was Carneros Creek Winery with Frank Mahoney.

Doug:
With Frank Mahoney, who was a great guy. Oh, man.

John Anthony:
And my first memories of the wine industry were sitting there watching that cork screw. As a kid, you watch those cork screws go and it's like, "How's that thing move the grapes. It doesn't even move." It was mesmerizing.

Doug:
Yeah [crosstalk 00:39:55]. The screw ... the screw conveyor.

John Anthony:
The screw conveyor, right.

Doug:
It moves the grapes down near the crusher [inaudible 00:39:59], yeah.

John Anthony:
Yeah, we'd be there because my parents would pick on the weekends, so we'd be there late at night and lights were on and you know-

Doug:
It is mesmerizing watching that thing. I remember that.

John Anthony:
It is mesmerizing. Especially like, for a kid.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
And so it was so fascinating making wine back at Folio again. We had moved out of Laird, at the time.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And moved over to, uh, um, Folio. And, uh, Rob was our consulting wine maker.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And ... and um, so, um-

Doug:
So you're making Chardonnay. Well, so you brought the Chardonnay in there.

John Anthony:
So, we're bringing the Chardonnay in as a ... as a bulk wine project. And I remember Rob was asking me, uh, "Hey, what are you going to ... what are you going to do with that?" I'm like, "Oh, I want to make like a ... you know, like a Le Crema, Rombauer style wine. Like rich, creamy, smooth Chardonnay."

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
It's like an R&D project.

Doug:
Easy drink ... easy drinking.

John Anthony:
Yeah, easy drink. And then we're just sell it for bulk market, get my client his money back. Like a research and development project. And uh, and Rob says, "Yeah." He's like, "I worked for Jess, I work for Kerner." He's like ... because Rob was the wine maker at Rombauer prior to leaving.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
And he left Rombauer 2008, started his own brand called Lloyd and started doing some consulting. And I started working with him in 2009 as a consultant. Before that, he worked with Jess Jackson at Le Crema as like an assistant wine maker. So he understood that process very well.

Doug:
He knows how to make that.

John Anthony:
And ... and ... and ... and it's so funny. So grapes are coming in, he's like, "Yeah, but you need the little barrels for that. You know that's not the way ... it's not really the way it works." I'm like, "Yeah, but look man, we know what the finishing chemistry needs to be. So we know what all our adds, we know what you used to use. We know what, um, [inaudible 00:41:17]" I'm like, "Oops, going to be an issue. I get that because we don't have those little barrels, but we'll figure that out." And Rob was like, "Who's we?" I'm like, "Me and you buddy. WE'll figure it out."

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
And I love that to this day, I still give him a bad time. He's like, "Okay, um, this will be your fist tank of wine. Uh, Rob, your buddy, I'm your buddy who's going to help you out. I'm not your wine maker. I'll help you out. So you'll get the analysis. I'll help ... I'll help give you some direction, but this is going to be your first tank of wine." I'm like, "Okay, that's cool."

Doug:
Wow.

John Anthony:
So we make his wine right. And ... and fast forward ... The wine's sitting in tank. Fast forward to April 2010, now.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And we're down at Pebble Beach Food and Wine. We had John Anthony, we'd released JaM and there was a lot of energy about JaM early on. And Scott Lewis from V Wine Cellars ... Do you know Scott?

Doug:
Yeah, I know Scott.

John Anthony:
So, he was down there and he was having a good time and he comes over to my table and I, um ... AT that time I had John Anthony on the table and JaM under the table. Today it's the opposite. We have John Anthony on ... We have JaM on the table and John Anthony under the table.

Doug:
So which JaM wine? Was it just the Cab or was it the Chardonnay?

John Anthony:
He had ... At the time, it was just the Cabernet he was selling.

Doug:
Cabernet.

John Anthony:
If we hadn't released ... We didn't even have a Chardonnay at the time.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
So, we're down at Pebble Beach and Scott Lewis comes over and he says, "Man, my guys love selling that JaM Cabernet. That's just a cool project." He's like, "You work with Rob, right? The guy that used to work for Rombauer? Long hair, blond, kind of surfer looking guy?"

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
I'm like, "Oh, yeah. That's our ... that's our ... that's our good friend and ... and wine maker." And he says, "You guys should do a white wine. Call it Butter." I'm like, "Oh..."-

Doug:
Scott Lew ... Scott ... That's where it came from?

John Anthony:
Oh, yeah. Scott Lewis.

Doug:
Scott Lewis.

John Anthony:
Oh, yeah, totally. I give him credit all the time, right.

Doug:
How nice of you to give him credit.

John Anthony:
I see ... I see him ... Oh, oh, totally.

Doug:
By the way, this is a Pebble Beach Wine Festival they have every spring down there and a bunch of wineries ... Great food and wine festival. So you're pouring for the folks.

John Anthony:
So, like ... So I ... So I go back, I'm like, "Oh, we have that tank of wine." So I go back and .. and, uh, I don't have any money to hire a trademark attorney, so I just did my own trademark stuff.  So I go-

Doug:
But ... question though. Did you like ... When he said Butter, did something ... a bell go off in your head? Or were you like, "Oh, yeah, right. I'm not going to do that."

John Anthony:
Both. Uh, the bell went off in my head because I'm like, "Oh, yeah, JaM and Butter, that's cute." And then the bell also went off because it was now 2010 and I wasn't too proud to sell wine. It was hard to sell wine.

Doug:
Right. Okay. Got it.

John Anthony:
So if that same thing would've been presented to me in 2007, I'd been like, "Ah, I'm not going to do that. I do high end Cabernet, Napa Valley. I'm not going to ... I don't do that."

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
But, maybe because Rob and I started spending more time together, I started drinking more Chardonnay, enjoying those styles, I ... I knew I had this tank of wine that I was making, I was like, "Oh, interesting."
             
And so then, uh, I went back to my, uh, little hotel room and uh, the trademark was available, so I registered the trademark because I didn't ... I couldn't ... I didn't have no money for an attorney, and I just did it myself. And uh-

Doug:
It's just Butter. Just Butter. Butter for ... Butter for wine.

John Anthony:
Butter for wine. Yeah.

Doug:
Got it.

John Anthony:
And uh, so then I talked to Rob, I'm like, "Hey," I told Rob the story about Scott and Rob's like, uh "Hey you thinking what I'm thinking? We should take that tank of wine we're working on?" I'm like, "We? Who's we, man?" And he went, "Oh, yeah, of course, right?"

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
So ... So yeah, so Rob's been involved with, uh, JaM from the early days.

Doug:
Well, that's great.

John Anthony:
And he ... he was making the wine with us through 2013. And then the scale just got too big and we ... in 2014 we hired a full time wine maker to oversee all the production.
             
But Butter as a ... it was a, from the very ... But it wasn't from the very beginning. The first two vintages, we did 1000 cases. And then in 2008 ... I'm sorry, 2009 and '10 we did 1000 cases. 2011 we did 8000 cases. And then from there, it just went on this tear. We went to 23000, 56000, 145000, 450000 and then in 2016, we produced 850000 cases of wine because we kept running out of wine every single year.

Doug:
With just Butter or all the wine?

John Anthony:
Just Butter. Just Butter.

Doug:
850000 cases of Chardonnay, Butter.

John Anthony:
Crate to bottle. No bulk wine. We brought in ... That year we brought in like 11000 tons of Chardonnay.

Doug:
Okay. I gotta ask you. Where are you getting the fruit? All over?

John Anthony:
Yeah.

Doug:
You must be.

John Anthony:
We started off ... As I mentioned earlier today, I was down in Clarksburg.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
We got introduced ... Agajanian Vineyards and uh-

Doug:
I know those guys.

John Anthony:
You know Rick and, uh Gary?

Doug:
Yeah, yeah.

John Anthony:
Yup.

Doug:
Yeah I know Rick.

John Anthony:
And they introduced us to some growers down in Clarksburg. And it's nice because you can get high tonnages, and it's a little cooler at night. It's not like Napa cool or Russian River cool-

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
But it's cooler than, like, Lodi and Central Valley. And so we started buying grapes there. Uh, so today, we get probably about ... Uh, we get grapes from Clarskburg, we get grapes from Mendocino, we get grapes from Paso Robles, we get grapes from Santa Barbara. Um, a little from Lodi, but not a lot. We get most of them from Clarksburg as much ... much more. And um ... And it helps having these different areas because we ... we can't bring all the grapes into one facility.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
We have multiple facilities we bring the grapes to.

Doug:
I was going to say so where do you make it. You're making it at numerous places.

John Anthony:
Yeah, we work with, um, we work with, you know, wineries from Mendocino ... It's five different production facilities we work with. And then we bring everything to LangeTwins to ... for bottling, there near Lodi.

Doug:
So, basically, 2011, 2012, 1000 cases. Here it is 2018, five or six years later, you're making 850000 cases.

John Anthony:
That's correct.

Doug:
And probably making more. You kept making more because you kept running out.

John Anthony:
That's correct. People say, "Well, how'd you ... how'd you know how to go so big?" And it's like, well, every year we kept running out so ... If you run out in six months, it's easy to double.

Doug:
Let's make some more.

John Anthony:
Yeah, because you want to ... And so, the reason we made so much in 2016 is we need to actually build ourselves a little bit of a cushion.

Doug:
John, this is absolutely phenomenal.

John Anthony:
It's crazy. If you look-

Doug:
It's ... It's crazy.

John Anthony:
It's nuts. It's like over-

Doug:
I mean, can ... How can I ... I want to get on board. Can you hire me? (laughs)

John Anthony:
It's so ... it's so ... Man it's so crazy. Like, I looked recently, over 12-

Doug:
I mean this is nuts.

John Anthony:
Over $12, we're the number, uh, three selling Chardonnay in America. There's VR Chardonnay number one, Le Crema's number two and then Butter Chardonnay. I did some math late ... at the end of ... At the end of the year, I did some math and we look at the wine that we shipped last year. And no one's ... no one's, uh ... no one's storing Butter. Everyone drinks Butter, right. It's not a wine you store.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And I did the math on it. And it comes out to ten bottles a minute are consumed, Butter Chardonnay. Ten bottles every minute. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Doug:
Oh.

John Anthony:
It's crazy.

Doug:
Oh. (laughs)

John Anthony:
(laughs) ten bottles a minute.

Doug:
I'm a little speechless.
             
All right, well I've got some ... I've got a fun fact that you probably know about. Of the top 30 selling Chardonnay's in the country, Butter was the number one fastest growing domestic Chardonnay across all price segments in 2017. Way to go, man.
             
So, boom. So this thing is exploded. You're still doing John Anthony.

John Anthony:
Yup.

Doug:
I'll ask about that later, but meanwhile ... but the JaM's line has ... has grown. So you've got the monster Chardonnay Butter, you've got Cabernet.

John Anthony:
Correct.

Doug:
I hate ... I'm kind of hesitant to ask how many cases of Cab?

John Anthony:
Oh, no you can ask. We, uh ... With JaM Cabernet, we'll do like 50000 cases.

Doug:
Oh, okay.

John Anthony:
So still a super, healthy, respectable brand.

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
It's ... We only say we've got seven SKU's in distribution and one of them is total outlier.

Doug:
Got it.

John Anthony:
The other of them are just like ... they're good SKU's, they perform well, people like the wines. For some reason, Butter hit this like seam in the universe and it's just, uh-

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
It's the unicorn. It's like, okay.

Doug:
Well you have that. And you've got Toast Sparkling wine.

John Anthony:
Toast, our sparling, that's correct.

Doug:
Which is a great name. And you've got ... Can we talk about the new one?

John Anthony:
Yeah, absolutely.

Doug:
And ... because it's just rolling out at Bottle Rock, right?

John Anthony:
It's just ... it's ... Yeah, we actually released in on Valentine's Day. And you're referring to California Candy, our Rose. We started off doing 7000 cases. It's a grenache out of, uh, Paso Robles, uh, Grenache-syrah blend out of Paso Robles. And it's a dry Rose.

Doug:
Nice.

John Anthony:
Uh, the name throws people off a little bit. They expect it to be sweet.

Doug:
Sweet.

John Anthony:
And we're like, well, we want the name to be provocative and grab your attention and, uh, the product has to stand on it's own.

Doug:
And is everyone ... You know, everywhere I go, I was just in London, they're saying "do you make a Rose?" I said, "No." They said, "Well, we can sell a lot of Rose." I said, "Well, okay." So ... You're timing's great on that one.

John Anthony:
Yeah, we actually ... I actually came up with the name like, I don't know, like seven or eight years ago. And it ... And we couldn't find a product for it to go into. And finally, we're like, "Oh, maybe that's our, uh ... maybe that's our Rose."
             
And ... and everything we do is a little bit ... Like with JaM Cellars, it's kind of light hearted, it's fun, it's uh ... We're very serious about the wine making, but we want the names to be approachable and easy and not intimidating and um ... You know, we forget how it kind of ... Here in the wine industry we're so caught up into it, we forget how intimidating it an be.
             
And so, yeah, it took a little bit of courage to put those names on a bottle of wine (laughs), especially my mom and dad's. Like they were just very, very traditional, classical, you know put your name on a bottle of wine. That's what you put.

Doug:
Well, my hat's ... my hat's off to you because you've struck a chord. You've struck a chord. And you know, Butter's leading the charge and you've the Butter bus. Tell me about the Butter bus, which is really cool. Looks like a ... a rock band's bus.

John Anthony:
It is. It was Alan Jackson's old star coach.

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
And ... and what I've learned ... I've learned a lot about buses. There's tour buses and then there's star coaches. And when you've made it, you don't actually ... you don't ... You fly from place to place-

Doug:
I see.

John Anthony:
And your star coach is there waiting for you.

Doug:
I see. Okay.

John Anthony:
And so, uh, yeah, so how that happened, we have ... Uh, Jeff Whitman leads all of our, uh, distribution sales. And it was probably like four years ago, he's ... he's, uh, hopping on a red eye and ... and uh, we were bantering. I'm like, "Yeah, somehow it came up, like, we need a ... we just need to get a bus so you can hop on the bus and like go around and ... and do all your, uh, all of your meetings on the bus. Right. Kind of like John Madden does."

Doug:
Right. Right.

John Anthony:
And, uh, and so we were kind of bantering around it. And then we start thinking, hey this is actually an interesting idea. Because we can put our  ... our logos on the side of it, and uh ... And we didn't know how popular it would be, but ... So we ... we went ... we found a bus in, of all places, Nashville, is like the place you go. That's like the bus central.

Doug:
That's where ... Makes ... makes sense.

John Anthony:
I found this great bus, it was black and so it worked perfect. We put our Butter logos on the side of it and it's ginormous. It's, you know, 45 fee long and 12 feet ... no 14 feet tall and ... And, uh we us it for a couple things now. We use it for, uh, trade tastings.

Doug:
Okay.

John Anthony:
So, our distributors now we're with ... WE started off with all the small distributors, now we're with some of the larger distributors. And they'll hold great trade tastings. We just park the bus out in front of the hotel. And I remember the uh, the ... We have a ... we call it ... We have a captain of the bus. Dave Taylor is our ... the ... the driver.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
He's like, "John, they don't let us park in front of the hotels." I'm like, "Dave, have $2000 of cash and just keep putting hundreds down until they say yes."  (laughs)

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
Just keep-

Doug:
And it works, doesn't it?

John Anthony:
He's like, "It only just takes like $100. A lot of times, they'll just let you park it there anyway." I'm like, "Right."
             
And so what's great is you park this bus out in front of the trade tasting, as as everyone's walking by to come in-

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
Like you've already ,,, Everyone [inaudible 00:50:41] ... We have our little table like everyone else, but they have to walk by the bus. Right? And so-

Doug:
On their way in.

John Anthony:
You see all the other suppliers walking in going like, "Oh, man. You guys. You guys with the bus."

Doug:
You guys again.

John Anthony:
You guys with the bus. (laughs)
             
The other thing that's been fun, now, is we use it ... We do, uh, tailgates. And so every year, we're at the Michigan, Michigan State game. And .. and R&DC brings all of their, uh, sales teams, what 85 reps there and we have a barbecue and we have the Butter bus there and we go to the game and-

Doug:
[inaudible 00:51:04] tailgate.

John Anthony:
And so we'll do tailgates. And then, um, we do also, uh, like uh, little tours where, um, we'll uh go in stores and do tastings. But that's ... that's definitely tertiary. The first two are the main ... the main uses for it.

Doug:
Main things. Well, that's a great idea. You're killing it again.

John Anthony:
I mean people talk about the darn bus and so, uh, the first thing-

Doug:
No it's good. Well, and then here's one more. You've got, besides John Anthony Vineyards tasting room in Napa, you've got another one. You've got the JaM Cellars-

John Anthony:
That's correct.

Doug:
On First Street. And it's not just wine tasting, it's music and wine.

John Anthony:
That's correct.

Doug:
Tell me about that. You've got music a few nights a week?

John Anthony:
We do, yeah. So, every, um, every Thursday and Friday we have live music. And uh, the idea behind that was um ... You know JaM started off as a bunch of virtual, uh, virtual wining, in a sense that it was still grape to bottles. We didn't buy bulk wine, we bought the grapes-

Doug:
You're buying the grapes.

John Anthony:
And ... and made the wine to our spec. And um, people always asked where were located. And we are very much a Napa company. I mean, all of our employees live in Napa, except the outside sales people, and offices are in Napa, my wife and I live in Napa. And uh, so just thought, well it would be nice to have a tasting room in Napa. And it just so happened that one opened ... a spot opened up right next to John Anthony.
             
So, there's the Andaz hotel, we have John Anthony on the right hand side, we have JaM Cellars on the left hand side.

Doug:
That's nice.

John Anthony:
And so it makes it so easy to-

Doug:
It makes it easy for everybody.

John Anthony:
Everything.

Doug:
Yeah.

John Anthony:
And then the question was what was the theme. And we opened in, uh, 2016 and we've been involved with Bottle Rock for a couple of years, we realized they synergy between music and our brand. We're like, oh, we'll make it more kind of a music themed place. And so we have a little, uh, recording studio that was initially designed for doing podcasts, exactly what we're doing. That was the initial concept of the recording studio. And ... and then you bite the, "Oh, yeah, John, just for an extra couple dollars you can make it a recording studio." Well, I'm looking what we have here today, what we have is way more involved than this. We should've just got you know, what we have here today. Been fine for podcasts.

Doug:
(laughs)

John Anthony:
And so we have a little recording studio. And then we started doing live music once every ... It was like once a week on Fri ... Once a month on Friday.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
Then we went to every Fridays, then we added Thursdays. It's just local.

Doug:
Yeah, local performers.

John Anthony:
Uh, uh local artists come in.

Doug:
Were you a music guy as a kid.

John Anthony:
I always loved music, but I'm not a musician and uh-

Doug:
You're not a mu ... Okay.

John Anthony:
You know, and like ... And some people are like, when it comes to being music lovers, they're ten out of ten, they've been to 150 concerts and I'm not that hard core. But I ... but I love music.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
But, probably like a lot of people do.

Doug:
Well, so I was curious because you never know when someone says, "Yeah, you know, I played ... I played lead guitar," and you ... and they start playing and it's like, "Oh my gosh, you're really, really good."

John Anthony:
Right. Yeah, I wish I had that talent.

Doug:
Yeah, me too.

John Anthony:
I can ... I can ... I can identify it, but I can't produce it. You know, I can ...
             
So yeah, so we opened that in, uh, 2016 and that's been a ... a neat addition, um, as well.

Doug:
So how do, uh ... How do you balance it? You've got two very different brands. So you're working ... you've got one leg in each of them probably. You're straddling it, you're tap dancing. It's um ... How do you ... How do you do it?

John Anthony:
Well, we ... Kind of like I said, we've got ... we've got four business, right. I still have my vineyard management business.

Doug:
Oh (laughs)

John Anthony:
But I don't oversee that anymore. I hired someone to oversee it. But ... but we like that because we ... we ... The vineyard management business, because we still work some of the top, uh, wine makers here in the valley. So we still farm for some of the top folks.

Doug:
Well, that's nice because you see ... you keep a ... you keep your finger in there and you hear what's going on.

John Anthony:
Yeah. Absolutely. Right?

Doug:
Some of the latest stuff, right.

John Anthony:
And they're ... and they're ... because they're pushing the edge and then so we ... we can constantly learn things that I can take and apply in other areas.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Anthony:
Uh, we um, we farm about, uh for ourselves, about 100 acres here and then the 150 acres in Clarksburg. So we have a couple hundred acres of vineyards that we farm.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
And so I've got a team of folks that oversee the farming side. And then on the ... on the wine side, we don't really ... You're absolutely right in that we've got a small production, high end brand and then a ... a larger volume, uh, $15 brand. But we really kind of use a portfolio because the ... it's uh ... um ... they each have their own places that makes a ton of sense.

Doug:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Anthony:
And so like, if I go on the road, I usually end up doing like a wine maker dinner with John Anthony, John Anthony, JaM bottles are in the bag and ... and some accounts that you think are just natural accounts for JaM, end up being John Anthony accounts and vice versa.

Doug:
Right.

John Anthony:
It's so hard to second guess what you think would ... One of our best, uh, accounts in Florida is the Ritz Carlton for Butter. They love it. They just ... they sell a ton of Butter at Ritz Carlton. I would've thought, oh that should be a John Anthony Sauvignon Blanc, high end [inaudible 00:55:03] clone, Church Vineyard, Carneros.

Doug:
Right, right.

John Anthony:
Butter. They love Butter. Other places we walk in and think, oh this is gotta be a JaM Cellars account, "Oh, I love that John Anthony Cabernet. That's great. Put that on the list."

Doug:
So John, we've got the Butter Chardonnay which is, you know, just awesome. You got the, JaM Cab, with the JaM butter Chard, you got the JaM Cab. You got the, JaM Toast Sparkling Wine, you got the new product Candy-
John: 
California Candy. Yup.

Doug:
Rosé. California Candy. Which sounds great. It's a dry rosé. What else is going on? Anything new coming down the pipe?
John: 
Yeah. We're gonna be launching cans.

Doug:
Wait, wait, wait. Cans?
John: 
Cans, yeah, right.

Doug:
Like-
John: 
I mean, who would ever think we would put wine in cans?

Doug:
Okay. Cans. Got it.
John: 
And uh, we're gonna start with Butter Chardonnay. We were gonna do this project a couple years ago. And we started looking at it and uh, a friend of mine said, "Well you're having such success. With the 750 milliliters and you still have so much work to do on that. Why distract yourself with cans?"

Doug:
Right.
John: 
And, maybe the entrepreneur in me was like, "Because I wanna do it! I think it's gonna be interesting." Right? And...

Doug:
(laughs)
John: 
... but I thought about what he said and I'm like, "He's right." You know, and this concept came to me that is like, brand before can. There's a lot of canned companies out there but they're can wine companies they're not strong brands that are putting themselves in cans. And so, I'm like, "Okay he's right." The team was kinda relieved like, okay great. Cause, I promised the team we'll never be bored. Like, oh my god, you're right. We're never bored.
And so we, uh, we made a decision to wait on cans and my approach to cans, was gonna be, there's a ... a van here that I like to call the can van. And for small lots you can hire them to ... and I'm like, okay, so we have the can design. We're gonna do a 250 milliliter, so same size as a, it's like a Red Bull can.

Doug:
Right.
John: 
With like the Butter logo on it. And it comes in a four pack. And we were just gonna do some samples to give away to distributors. To give to our friends. See if we liked it.

Doug:
Yeah.
John: 
You know. If we think it's a good idea.

Doug:
Yeah. Test the market.
John: 
Test the market. We started showing pictures to our distributors of these cans. They're like, "We'll take em, we'll take a 1,000 cases."

Doug:
(laughs)
John: 
I'm like, "No, no. We don't wanna sell you the wine. We just wanna give you some samples. See if you like it." They're like, "We like it. We want it. Don't give it to us. Let us buy it."
And, and "No no no no, we're just gonna give you samples. Like, we're not actually ... I'm not even sure if I wanna do this shit." Like, I'm like, I'm not, this is my, I might not like it. And they're like, "Don't. The market wants it."
And so, uh, [Jeff Witlow 00:02:20] who was looking at our sales, was talking to, uh, a gentleman who's responsible for a lot of the purchasing of a large grocery chain, showed him the picture, he's like, "Oh, if you produce that, I'll put those in stacks in every supermarket in Southern California." And so I said, "Maybe there's, maybe there's something here. Maybe we shouldn't make a test market." And so I asked my team, I said, "Go out and do a soft circle about if we had cans available mid-summer-

Doug:
Right.
John: 
... "what each of your distributors would wanna buy." And they came back with a demand of 50,000 cases of cans. And a case of cans is like a six liter equivalent.

Doug:
Got it.
John: 
24 cans is six liters. So it's like, 2/3 of a-

Doug:
2/3 of a normal case. Right.
John: 
2/3 of a normal ... So, 50,000 cases of six liter equivalents and I was like, "Oh, that's way beyond the test." Like, we actually need to go into production. So then we started doing the research of who actually does this. How do you scale it up?

Doug:
Yeah.
John: 
... it's like, it's like, reinventing the wheel, man. It's not, it's like totally, different. It's-

Doug:
It's not like putting wine in a bottle.
John: 
No. It's not.

Doug:
Oh I bet.
John: 
Because you've got liners, you have shelf life, you have born on dates. It's non vintage. So the vintage of the can will always be the same vintage as the bottle. But you don't, cause, you, you have to keep it fresh. It's about freshness.

Doug:
So, it is about ... So basically the thing with a can compared to a bottle with a cork or screw cap, it doesn't, it doesn't last.
John: 
Uh, it's probably like 12 to 18 months. Well yeah.

Doug:
12 ... a case.
John: 
I would suggest Butter's best in 12 to 18 months but if you have a three year old bottle of Butter's, it's not, it's probably not bad. It's just-

Doug:
Right. It's just-
John: 
We're-

Doug:
Yeah, but cans are gonna get drunk in three months. Easy.
John: 
That's right.

Doug:
Easy.
John: 
And so, uh, so we're gonna do our first bottling early July. We'll ship in late July and we'll see what the can business ... Who knows. I mean, there's a lot of enthusiasm around it. Which is, you know, I kind of, again, I had to get over the comfort level of putting Butter on a bottle of wine.

Doug:
Right.
John: 
And I'm like, "Oh, put em in cans. Well, you know. It's, market's telling us they want something. Maybe we should listen."

Doug:
Okay so, so when we get off the air, here. I wanna talk to you about getting involved. I want in.
John: 
(laughs)

Doug:
I want in.
John: 
(laughs) I love it. All right.

Doug:
Alright ...

Doug:
You know, thanks for coming in today. I mean, yeah, this was a lot of fun on the podcast, but man, I was dying to hear all this stuff anyway, so it's ... it feels so good to get caught up. And uh, I will see you, uh ... I'll be running around at BottleRock in a few weeks. So-

John Anthony:
I love it. I love it.

Doug:
Hope to see you then.

John Anthony:
Yeah, we've got a ... we've got our JaM pad, so uh, reach out and make sure you guys get some wrist bands so you can come in and you can, uh, enjoy some, uh, you know JaM Cabernet and Butter Chardonnay.

Doug:
I'm ... I'm definitely going to check it out.

John Anthony:
Right on.

Doug:
I gotta see what's going on.

John Anthony:
Thanks Doug.

Doug:
Thanks John.

John Anthony:
You bet.

Doug:
Good seeing you.