Happy birthday to a sweet idea of a tour and tasting service for lovers of German wines and food! I’m not sure when exactly I should place BottleStops’ birthday. I could dig for the exact date of company registration, or the date I registered the trademark, or the date I had my first paid booking. But really any day around May should be good enough. It should be a sunny day —a day worthy of a crisp German white wine unapologetically opened at noon.
Here’s to BottleStops!
May is a great month in the German wine calendar, too. Most of last year’s wines are now bottled and ready for tasting, and this year’s crop takes the parting shot with budburst in full swing.
Now, an anniversary does call for a little review. Don’t expect stats or figures about the number of wine tours I’ve taken or how many wine tastings I’ve lead. I am bad at figures—always have been. In fact I couldn’t care less about statistics. I was, I am, the guy with the gut-feel strategy the finance department used to hate. (Good thing we got rid of each other). But still, there have been plenty of tours and tastings over the past 12 months, not many in the beginning, but there were steadily more as time progressed.
When I look back, the first thing that comes to mind is that deep satisfaction of having found my calling. I am showing off my Wine & Food Heimat ( ‘Homeland’ in German). It’s what I do and love. There’s nothing more satisfying than sharing great taste with likeminded people!
It’s also been about re-discovering my home region after 20 years of expatriation. Living in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and The Hague have opened my eyes to the beauty of ‘my’ Germany. Don’t get me wrong: there’s no ranking implied here. It’s just that when I left Germany, I did not appreciate the beauties its landscape and its culture had to offer. Since starting my business, I’ve come to really appreciate my native country in a new way.
And it’s also very much about the people. Winemaking is a tough business: winemakers deal with ever more erratic weather extremes, with increasing European and local bureaucracy, cheap competition, and a home market that is extremely price sensitive. The winemakers I’ve met, though, display this incredible pride in what they are doing and the resilience to cope with adversity; and despite heavy workload and busy days they still willingly take their precious time to show off their fantastic wines to us.
And finally I am glad to see that BottleStops seems to be taking off. More than once I’ve heard what a great idea it is to take international visitors to tour German vineyards, but ideas don’t pay bills. But feedback from visitors has been excellent (check happy wine-travellers' feedback on my testimonials feed, or the BottleStops Tripadvisor reviews!). So, the no-figures-guy is very relieved that 2018 has started very well and that there is profitability at the horizon.
Cheers to that! And to many more years to come!