We recently sat down (virtually of course) with the wonderful Lindsay Hoopes of the Hoopes Vineyard in Napa Valley, to chat about what it means to run a vineyard, how challenging this year has been, and what she's unveiling this year. Read on to discover what it means to love, grow, make, and sell wine!
Tell our readers how you started with the Hoopes Family Vineyard.
I am the second-generation proprietor of our family-run, grower-producer winery and lifestyle brand located in Napa, California. My father primarily focused on farming operations and farm equipment, while I expanded operations to include wine production, private label offerings, rental accommodation, virtual operations, hospitality and international distribution of our products.
What goes into running a vineyard?
At the core, running a vineyard is an agricultural operation. We grow wine grapes as our exclusive crop. So much of what we do starts in the vineyard, so the heart and soul of our vineyard ties to our farming and farming practices. That said, running a winery and wine brand is so much more than farming. We are scientists, luxury brand specialists, environmentalists, hospitality providers and consumer products manufacturers. Wine is one of the most complex items to produce because it crosses so many distinct areas of expertise that are largely unrelated!
What have been the biggest challenges and adjustments you’ve have to make this year?
Napa has experienced two enormous challenges this year: COVID, like the rest of the world, and devastating wildfires, unique to wine country and devastating in terms of destroying revenue.
Napa is a lifestyle brand, and wineries generate tremendous brand equity and actual revenue through visitation to the region. We lost sales from a decline in visitation. The wildfires also scattered visitors. Like many companies, we had to reinvent our brand and wine club offerings with virtual offerings. We also lost revenue all over the world because our primary customers, in many cases, are restaurants, and they closed as a result of COVID.
Lastly, and most specific to Napa, the wildfires caused a loss in revenue as a result of lost crop in 2017 and 2020 as well. We ended up developing new products to utilize crops that were otherwise compromised for ultra-premium wine production. That has been the biggest innovation for the company to date, including emergence of a new product category for the entire industry.
Talk a little bit about the fires and the community support you’ve been involved in?
In developing our new product, I saw a need to assist farmers who are uninsured. Smoke taint is a significant problem for growers, many of whom do not make wine and now could not sell their harvest, and there is no current relief available to them from any agencies. We have created a program – still very much in development – to establish a profit share for grapes provided to our new products. Hopefully this will provide some economic relief!
Do you have any new and exciting wines that you’re releasing or have released this year? Any special programs or events for the holidays?
We have a number of new virtual tasting options for corporate gifting, personal connection with friends and family, education, client appreciation, and team building. Our new smoke-related products will be available soon for pre-sale, but are not ready for release – yet!
What’s your favorite thing about working in the wine community?
I really enjoy being part of people’s most memorable moments and experiences that lift spirits despite macro-economic devastation. I have also been recently inspired by developing new products that solve an issue – loss to the industry – that also present and entirely new product category.