One of the highlights of my current life, hunkered down here in The Brogue during the pandemic, is the amount of time I get to spend in my kitchen and thinking about homemade foods. Whereas getting groceries used to be a chore squeezed in among other chores, now it's a highlight of my quarantine life. I spend an inordinate amount of time reading recipes, learning about new foods, and preparing food for my family. I've also happily extended that task to include weekly baking for the family of good people who make Allegro what it is.
Just about every week during of these many months, I've baked a little something--cookies, muffins, brownies--for Carl to distribute to the Allegro staff working that day. As my courier, he takes the treats to our vineyards, tractors, cellars, and tasting rooms. It's a good feeling to have a way to thank those who have worked with such diligence and goodwill, especially during these strange times.
This weekly bake shop enhances the house, too, keeping the kitchen bright and warmly scented with chocolate, cinnamon, and gratitude. What better way could there be to say "Thank you," than with sprinkles on top?
Well, it's official! Allegro has put out the word that we'll be buying the Pennsylvania wine brand developed by Carl's friend Brad Knapp: Pinnacle Ridge. Carl and Brad have known each other for many years, meeting together with Joanne Levengood of Manatawny Creek to taste wines together and collaborate on our Trio wines. It's been a unique partnership, really valuable to Carl as a member of the regional wine community.
We've certainly enjoyed our share of Pinnacle Ridge wines here, especially Brad's sparkling wines. And I have fond memories of stops at the big red barn winery in Kutztown, where our boys scampered up the hill to the vineyards many years ago.
Carl's looking forward to the opportunities of carrying the Pinnacle Ridge brand and wines forward. A nice PennLive article outlines some of those plans, and we'll be out scouting for tasting room locations nearer to Philly.
Cheers to friendship, retirement, and new possibilities for Allegro and Pinnacle Ridge!
Well, we made it! 2020 is in the books and can return to being a figure of speech, something about hindsight. There's no way we could have predicted this past crazy year, but we couldn't feel more grateful to have survived it, and to have Allegro survive it as well.
I turned off a radio program the other day because they were running a "2020 News in Review" segment. I remember what happened in 2020. I didn't particularly want to hear about it all again. So much of the year was bitter, heart-wrenching, sad, anxiety-producing. To deal with that load, we've all gotten more tools in our tool-boxes, strategies of flexibility, priority-gazing, and appreciation to help us get through. I am particularly grateful for Carl's particular socket set.
One of Carl's favorite podcasts is Pivot, hosted by Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher. And I must say that Carl certainly put his own personal pivoting skills to good use in 2020. As the pandemic threat loomed and businesses all around the world were being shuttered, we went through many days of uncertainty, not knowing if we would be allowed to stay open, if we and our employees were "essential." From one hour to the next on some days, we'd get updates and mandates and Carl would have to quickly navigate through the information, heading into strategy sessions seeking ways that we'd be able to keep making and selling wine. When retail stores and restaurants closed, our curbs remained open. Customers found our wines in grocery stores and we delivered the wine straight to their doors.
There are many reasons why we survived 2020 as a business, and Carl stands behind all of them. Two decades of his work to grow and diversify the ways we make and sell wine mean that when one door closes, he's already framed out three nearby windows.
We purchased our second winery and vineyard in Stewartstown just before the pandemic changed everything. Well...back on September 11th, 2001, we had also just gone "all-in" with coming to Allegro in the first place. We've had practice with navigation through troubled waters, and this guy's got quite a rudder.
Priorities these days seem as clear as the winter night sky. Family, employees, customers. Some days, they all seem like family to Carl. That's a special thing.
Despite last year's rough times, loss, and uncertainty, the energy heading into this particular new year feels really good. We feel smarter, leaner, pragmatic, focused. We've really enjoyed the bonus days with our boys and the meaningful connections with all people Allegro. Life is good.
2021: Bring it!