Part 3: An Interview with Paul Clary of Clary Ranch Wines

Monday, January 5, 2009

This is Part 3 of a 3 part interview series with Paul Clary. Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here.

Selling Wine

Q: So, the first wine you ever submitted for rating to Wine Spectator received 91 points and you landed on a list of "The Hot New Dozen of California Pinot Noir" (along with some good company I might add- Black Kite and Zepaltas come to mind). If you could- walk me through how you first heard of the rating- and what was your initial reaction to such a high rating?

Paul Clary: I had been scanning the Spectator's website, looking for any word. I think that I was tipped off by Jeff Maddux, then president of the Petaluma Gap Grape and Wine Alliance. Frankly, I had a very emotional reaction. It was validation at a time when I was still adjusting to a gut-wrenching divorce. Cathartic, really.

Q: What's the process like for submitting a wine for rating? Do you just pop a couple of bottles in a box and drop it off at Wine Spectator's offices and say "please consider rating this"? Do you fret over whether the bottles you choose might not be the best ones of the batch?

Paul: Yes and No. Submitting wines for review, I drop a couple bottles off at the Wine Spectator's back door. There's a doorbell, usually answered by a lovely young woman who graciously takes in the precious elixir. No, I don't really fret about it. I mean, there IS a lot riding on how the wine is received, but I can't open a bottle to check it before I send it in... So what use is there in worrying about it?

Q: How do you determine pricing for your wines? Production levels? Production costs? Perception of quality?

Paul: All of the above.

Q: What are your thoughts on wine ratings? In a sense as consumers, it's the first order sort that's applied to the thousands of bottles of wine we could spend our hard earned money on. But in another sense- to peg a single number on a bottle of wine is a little ridiculous. Where do you stand?

Paul: Wine ratings give the consumer some means of differentiating between this bottle or that. The only way to know for sure if you like a given wine is to open it and drink it. Barring that, there's not much else to go on. Tasting notes certainly help. Just saying that a wine is a "91" doesn't tell that it smells of rose petals and leather, and that it tastes of candied cherries and plums with a luscious, long-lingering finish...

Q: Direct shipping laws are confusing to everyone- what resources do you consult to determine whether you can ship to a given state?

Paul: There are folks who work for Clary Ranch Wines who take care of those issues, freeing me to create wines. Clary Ranch Wines is a tiny operation (est. 2007 production = 600 cases), and consumer-direct sales are vital to our survival. Unfortunately, the Repeal of Prohibition left us with a patchwork of various State regulations. What is routine for one state is a felony in another. Free the Wine!

Other installments of this interview:
If you'd like to purchase Clary Ranch wines, we've put together a *special* offer for Wellesley Wine Press readers. Clary Ranch has agreed to extend their Holiday Gift Pak offer through January 15th, 2009 for all orders mentioning "The Wellesley Wine Press". When placing your order over the phone or in the comments section of your order, just mention this web site and you'll receive FREE SHIPPING plus great pricing on 2 bottles of Clary Ranch wines.

Click here to visit the Clary Ranch Web Site.
Click here to Order Clary Ranch wines and take advantage of this special offer.

If you have any comments or questions for Paul, please leave them below and I'll be sure to pass them along. I'd like to thank Paul for the time he took answering my questions for this interview so honestly and enthusiastically, and especially for the special offer he's extended to my readers.


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