I was showing our Sangiovese to Peter Granoff at the Oxbow Wine Merchant in Napa the other day, and noted in passing that we hadn't raised prices in twelve years. This surprised him. His reaction surprised me (am I doing this wrong?) so I decided to do some research. Not surprisingly, it's complicated.
Napa Valley prices have gone up significantly since Villa Ragazzi's last release (1998 vintage), then down again with the dot.com bust, and endured more downward pressure in the late 00's thanks to oversupply and an imploding economy. Prices are now on the upswing following two short vintages. There isn't enough Sangiovese on the market to study pricing evolution, but the example of Silver Oak Cabernet tells a story: their 1998 (a vintage unfairly bashed by critics) was released at $70, and some is still available online for prices ranging from $70-$217. Silver Oak 2009 is listed at $120.
So I guess I'm doing this wrong. But it feels right.
One of the ragazzi recently informed your editor of the results from her Google search for Villa Ragazzi. Not that we would have changed the name, you understand, had we had the foresight to check online ourselves; our Sangiovese has been labeled Villa Ragazzi since 1988. But our recent namesake in southern France is in a very different business. All I can say is, the "wine" in Villa Ragazzi's URL is important.
Creating a website has been an adventure for this low-tech person. (I'm being nice.)
Since you've met the rest of the Rodenos, it's time to introduce myself. I'm Michaela. In spite of my name, I am Italian only by association with Gregory; ancestors make him 75% Italian. We married and eventually produced two great kids, Kate and John, both born here in Napa Valley. Even as a ragazzi John always loved wine; Kate likes it but usually prefers beer.
Back to me. I've had a wonderful career in the wine business, having been instrumental in creating two significant winery startups: Domaine Chandon in 1973, and St. Supéry in 1988. I retired in mid-2009 to devote myself to family, friends, tennis, gardening, and maybe even an insider's book about the last 40 years in the wine industry. Although I'm still thinking about it, the book is on hold now that I find myself back in harness, working to bring our family wine venture, Villa Ragazzi, to market. The internet, social media, no staff, no millions to invest -- launching a winery is very different this time around, but it's still fun!