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February 13, 2020

Our Beloved Squirrel Label

Let me throw out these two words… wine label. What goes through your mind?  Yellow Tail, Robert Mondovi, Barefoot, Gallo, Sutter Home… all of these produce thousands of cases of wine per year. There are around 1,000,000 wineries worldwide. Some are really small, producing just a couple hundred cases per year and then there’s Gallo, the world’s largest, producing 70 million cases per year using 80 different brand names. Our little winery, White Squirrel, is what the industry calls a boutique winery, that’s a winery producing less than 10,000 cases annually. However, as boutique as we are, we still have 18 different kinds of wine and 18 different wine labels.

Not only do we sell wine at our winery, we also sell wine in grocery stores and package stores. That means our product sits beside wines from some of the world’s largest producers with professionally designed, ad agency produced, focus group approved, wine labels.

While visiting City Liquor in Dyersburg I proudly strolled through the wine section where White Squirrel Wine was on display. Bert Chandler, the owner has several hundred wines on display and does a great job with White Squirrel. As I scanned through the wines, reality slapped me in the face. I realized our cute, beloved, cartoon-squirrel wine label did not stand out among the crowded field. In fact, our label appeared bland and somewhat lacking.  I almost felt sorry for the precious, cartoon-squirrel.

Over the past several months I have immersed myself in wine labels, looking for the style that best suites White Squirrel Winery and a label that would sit proudly beside Yellowtail, Beringer and others. I visit retailers, take pictures, do online searches for critter wine labels, check out wine label contest winners, and quiz family members. Finally, I realized I needed help with the concept I had in my head. I posted a job on an online freelancer marketplace, GURU.com.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story!

(preview: next blog will include pictures and concepts)

January 31, 2020

A bit sad :(

It is a gloomy day in West Tennessee and a bit warm to be the last day of January. Marjie just asked, “ Where is the snow? I thought someone said it was going to be a cold, hard winter”. “Lucky you, you don’t have to miss a day of school”. I don’t think she liked my response.

Today I’m a bit sad. For 6 years I have been using “Shopkeep” as my point of sale software provider. For those unfamiliar with a POS system, think of an old cash register with a modern look. This is my cash register, and where I enter my inventory descriptions, quantities, prices, customer data and pretty much everything about my business. My sales histories, credit card transactions and, most importantly, 6 years of sales and customer info is stored on a distant Shopkeep cloud…. I think?

Six years ago I recall sitting at my kitchen bar and doing endless Google searches and reading endless reviews about the many POS providers and finally narrowing it down to two or three. I absolutely wanted cloud-based with IPad terminals and a small footprint. After doing a few online demos, I chose Shopkeep. And now, six years later, this lukewarm POS marriage with counseling, a lot of arguments and the threat of separation… I started chatting with “Square”. Yep, Square is the biggest cloud-based, IPad POS provider in the country. I am not a sheep, and I hate going with the Walgreens or WalMart of POS systems, but after six years of Shopkeep, I think I finally know what I really want. And for fear of sounding too techie or like a spouse coming out of a bad relationship, I’ll just say, one of the many advantages of being a billion dollar company is you can hire the best developers and programmers money can buy.

So, on your next visit to White Squirrel Winery, you will see one of those little white terminals with the grey square on the back… the one’s you see in all the coffee shops, donut shops and dress boutiques. And that too makes me sad. I was rooting for the small guy… the one that was there when I started.  

Just google “movies about wineries” and you find movies that are goofy, serious, romantic and even a thriller… Sideways, Walk in the Clouds, A Good Year, SOMM, Wine Country. To my surprise, of the 53 movies listed I failed to see a single movie, not even a documentary that shared the real life story of running a vineyard and winery. Maybe that’s the reason so many folks come into White Squirrel Winery with an burning curiosity about the business. Afterall, there are more counties than wineries in Tennessee (95 -vs- 54), more dairy farms than wineries in Tennessee (220-vs- 54) and even more breweries than wineries (82 -vs-54) in our state. So, for the next several months I will share the real life decisions, drama, struggles, triumphs and sometimes, romantic lighthearted fun of owning a real and working winery. You will get to know my family and the all the folks that help hold and put this business together. So, stay tuned as I tell the real story and post to: “The Wine Doesn’t Make Itself”. Bill (01/27/20)

VOTED “BEST WINERY IN WEST TENNESSEE”! We are thrilled to announce that our White Squirrel Winery & Vineyard has been voted “Best Winery in West Tennessee for 2019” by Tennessee Magazine Readers Choice Awards! We are honored YOU have chosen us for the 3rd year in-a-row. We try hard to ensure you have an enjoyable experience while doing a tasting, shopping for gifts, staying at our B&B, attending your private wedding or event, a paint class or our Arts Fest. Thank you to our awesome staff and vineyard harvest crew, and to TN Drone Services for the great aerial photo! Cheers to all of YOU! ❤️🍷 To view all winners, click here: https://www.tnmagazine.org/bestoftennessee-2019/

We have our music line-up for our 3rd annual Art & Music Fest in the Vines Sat. Oct. 12, and we are so excited for these great musicians! Music and mimosas start at 10am, and we have music all day until 6pm! Our vendors open at 9am, so get there early to get first pick of all of the great art and crafts! We will have food vendors, so bring your appetite, and of course, great wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks as well.

Wine Club Pick-Up Party

Saturday, September 21st will be wine club pick-up at the winery. This quarter we will have a free hamburger buffet for members and 1 guest, $10 for non-members, and live music by The Fog Pilots, from Union City.

Lunch will begin at 1:00 pm

Music will begin at 3:00 pm

Mark your calendar for this fun-filled day!

Wine being boxed for Wine Club members at our warehouse cellar!

Vendors & Musicians: We are planning our 3rd annual Art & Music Fest in the Vines for Sat. Oct. 12, 9-6pm. Interested art, craft, and food vendor, as well as musicians may contact our event manager, Tina Elgin at (731) 592-8886! Spread the word & see you in the vines for more great fun! For more info, visit the event link:https://www.whitesquirrelwinery.com/event/2019-arts-music-fest-in-the-vines/

White Squirrel Winery will be at “Toast of Jackson”, a festival of wine and art this Saturday JULY 27, 2019, 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM. The event is at the Jackson Fairgrounds Pavilion, 800 S. Highland Ave – Jackson, TN 38301. Hope to see you there!! Cheers!

*For more info & to register, click here: https://toastofjackson.com/toj/

TIME TO VOTE! It’s that time of the year again to vote on “THE BEST OF THE BEST” for 2019 in Tennessee! Thanks to your votes, White Squirrel Winery & Vineyard was voted “Best Winery” in West Tennessee 2 years in a row in Tennessee Magazine! Please support us by voting at this link, and share this with friends. We work hard to create a great winery, wine-tasting, event location, and beautiful agricultural experience for all. THANK YOU for being a huge part of this journey! *(By voting, you are also entered into contests. You can vote for many other categories too!)
https://www.tnmagazine.org/bot2019/