Monday, April 26, 2010

Wine & Friends

Last night I had the pleasure of reconnecting with an old friend of mine from the Guild (the Sommelier education program I attended). Though he lives only and hour south in the metro we find it difficult to connect with our busy schedules. He was able to break away from work and his significant other for the evening and join me at my house for wine and laughter.

When we get together we are total wine geeks; name dropping, over analyzing, big glass using wine geeks. My friend is by far the most well educated wine colleague I have. From every Cru in Burgundy to every great vintage from Champagne he is a walking wine encyclopedia. He spends a lot of time listening and tasting to perfect his mind and palate. I don't mean to toot my own horn but I am no slouch with wine information myself, but it's funny how quickly I realize I am not the smartest guy in the room. When I am with him I ask question after question, soil types, micro-climates, vintages, you name it, I just keep asking.

After a few bottles of wine and plenty of conversation we decided it was time to hit the hay. I laid in bed thinking how fun it is to pick the brain of someone who has a lot of information and how I am constantly approached by people with questions. I would never say it is a burden when people come up to me with questions about wine, but sometimes I just want to sit and enjoy myself. Two weeks ago I was at a benefit and there were two wine baskets being sold in a silent auction. I had a half a dozen people walk up to me looking for tastings notes and a lead on which basket was better value. Don't get me wrong, I love the attention, but that night I just wanted to drink my non-vintage Barefoot Shiraz and be content (dead serious).

But after last night I realized how much fun it is to be able to learn when you are really interested in something, especially when it's extra-curricular. This experience with my friend made me realize that I am so lucky to be able to share with the world my passion and interests. I love to entertain, I love wine and I love to educate people in an approachable, entertaining manner.

I am rejuvenated after my experience last night (although I am a little slow this morning). I realize that I have so much to share, and so much more to learn. I will be the first guy to tell you I don't know everything there is to know about wine. I know a lot and I have fun sharing that with people. So I am excited to educate and entertain the world all the while remembering I too enjoy the occasional brain picking. I guess Peter Parker's Uncle was right, with great power comes great responsibility.

Nicholas Barth
Certified Sommelier
Wine Director

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cru of 1000

With a week of being live under our belt we feel pretty good. It has been fun, chaotic and challenging, in no particular order. I got in to wine because I wasn't good with technology, now I find myself surrounded by it. I love writing scripts and being on camera, I would argue I am actually not too bad at it, but I can barely get the printer to do a double sided copy let alone shoot, edit and upload videos. Enter J.C.

J.C. is our Chief Technology Officer, he makes sure that everything works, even when it shouldn't. He is like a babysitter for binary numbers, when they get out of line he is so patient with them. He listens, understands and coaxes them in to doing what he wants. Not like me, I throw stuff and yell. And when I break it because I threw it, I yell more.

We have all logged a lot of hours trying to make this dream a reality. From JC's technology battles to Andy's Ecommerce project and my content, on-air, and production management, we are firing on all cylinders. The fun comes at the end of the day when we crack a bottle and laugh. The Chaos comes during the day when we are trying to complete tasks, and the challenge comes when we fall just short of a goal for the day.

We have a great team, and we have a lot of support. The people who stand behind us mean the world to us. We have all taken a risk and are believe in what we are doing. I jokingly tell my wife "this will make a good book some day." But to be quite honest, it really will. We are three guys working 70 hour weeks to launch a product that is in completely uncharted waters. We have faith that our passion and vision are in need.

With all of that being said we can't do it with out all of you. We need your help in spreading the news. We have put together a campaign called 'Cru of 1000'. We are trying to get 1000 friends to join the Cru Facebook page by May 1st. We realize it is an aggressive goal but we have such a great support network we know we can do it with everyone's help. If you haven't joined our Cru Wine Specialists Facebook page please do so. If you have we simply ask you to spread the word and let everyone know we would love their support too.

Thank you to everyone for following us, and for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about visit to see how we are revolutionizing the wine industry.
Until next Monday...Salut!

Nicholas Barth
Certified Sommelier
Wine Director
Cru Wine Online

Monday, April 12, 2010

We Are LIVE!

With the number of people I need to thank I feel like I need to give an Oscar speech. It has been a crazy last 3 months and an even crazier last three days. As you may know, the Cru Wine Online division of Cru Wine Specialists has received a lot of local attention over the past week.

It all started when we moved in to our new location in downtown St. Cloud last month. Ms. Downtown herself Pegg A.K. Gustafson came over to welcome us to the neighborhood. She asked what we were all about and if she could put our new location in her weekly email.

The email got in the hands of a KNSI reporter, Cassie Hart. She called and began asking questions about our new business venture. She then aired a news feature about Cru on KNSI 1450. Within 15 minutes of the KNSI interview being aired WJON called. They wanted to know more. From that we received a call from UTVS, to which they did a 2 minute feature on our new addition. Later that day the St. Cloud Times called and wanted to know what all the fuss is about.

This is all fine and dandy, I mean, don't get me wrong, I love publicity, but we were not exactly ready yet. The launch of our site was to be the first week of May, not April. However, after countless hours and hard work by our Chief IT Director J.C. Turner and his mad scientist web developer Mark Monn over the weekend we were able to get our public site up and running. I am not exaggerating when I say that J.C. has logged over 50 hours in the last 3 days. If there were an Olympics for Information Technology J.C. Turner would have won the gold.

You can check out our new and improved website at While the full launch of our membership page will not be ready until May, we encourage you to check out the public site and pass it along to anyone you know who may be interested in having fun and learning about wine. The site is loaded with videos to explain exactly what our new adventure entails. In addition we have posted a sample of an online tasting as well as an example of a Cru radio podcast. I will keep you up to date with any changes, postings, or additions made.

This is the most excited and nervous I have ever been. Thank you again to everyone for your continued support, because without you, we would have to drink alone!