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Idaho Special - EP02 - Potter Wines
Episode 204th November 2022 • Wine Crush Podcast - OR • Wine Crush Podcast - OR
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Idaho keeps giving us more and more great stuff to explore and enjoy! The Wine Crush Road Trip next stop is with Crystal Potter of Potter Wines! Potter Wines is an urban winery in Garden City on the outskirts of Boise. Don't let the outside appearance detract you from the personality and great wine you experience as soon as you walk in the doors! Join us as we chat with Crystal and learn about the story and vision of Potter Wines!

Transcripts

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So after this, we'll head out to Houston's and Fujitons and do they know we're coming?

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Yes, they know we're coming.

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I wish we had time to actually stop and go tasting all these places just because that's

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what.

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Thank you.

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That would be such great.

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It's like just one.

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It'd be fun.

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It'd be fun too, but like the pouring of the wine, the conversation that you have there.

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Yeah, I really need a D-Rock that follows Gary Vaynerchuk around.

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He follows him all day long and video and audio content non-stop.

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You're mic'd up 100% of the time.

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Yeah, and I mean, I think that would get really old really fast, but I think there's really

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good content that could be powerful and fun and a lot of information and utilization with

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it.

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I mean, I think they're all good interviews.

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I think every interview is a good interview.

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Some of them are just more dynamic than some of the others and it's usually just personality

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driven.

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I mean, and that's kind of the whole point is to not be this wine geek centered podcast.

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I like the stories and the why and where and how versus, you know, the geekness that goes

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into the actual winemaking itself because to me the wine is interesting when the people

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are interesting.

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From the heart of the Oregon wine country, you're listening to season five of the Wine

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Crush podcast.

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Stories uncorked for casual wine enthusiasts around the world, featuring winemakers from

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the Willamette Valley, sponsored by Country Financial.

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From origin stories to terroir, here's your host, Heidi Moore.

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Hey everybody, welcome to Wine Crush podcast.

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We are still in Idaho and this is our second stop in our road trip series over here, over

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I guess east from us.

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Still in Caldwell and we're going to be here most of this road trip this time around anyways.

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And we have Crystal with Potter Wines with us.

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Like our other interview, we are missing half of the team because it's bottling day for

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them and you got to bottle when it's time to bottle.

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So Crystal, thank you so much for coming out and hanging out with us, bringing wine because

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you drove out from Boise.

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Yes.

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Yes.

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Yes.

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You guys have a really cool little urban winery down there, which we'll talk about a little

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bit later, but I'm excited to hear this story because as much time as I spent with your

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husband and your wine tasting manager, Ryan, I think that was his title.

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We had lots of wine and I hung out probably a little bit longer than I should have and

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definitely needed something to eat by the time we were finished, but you weren't around

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that day.

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So I got all boy time that day.

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So let's talk a little bit about your story because I don't think we really hit on that

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a lot when I was out there originally and it was like three years ago.

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It's been a while since I was out.

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It was definitely pre-COVID.

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Yeah.

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So our story, I guess, sort of medium version, Von and I, Von is my husband who you met.

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He's the winemaker and we never intended to have a winery, I mean, not in a million years.

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And so the way we got started, we were just home hobbyists doing it for fun, entering

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amateur wine competitions and just happened to be winning them and it was just sort of

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fun at the time and he was making whites and reds and we were doing everything wrong and

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figuring it all out and then one day he came to me and said that he wanted to make jalapeno

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wine and I told him, no, why would you mess with wine?

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I don't know why you would do that.

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And he said, okay, cool.

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Well then I'm going to do it like every good husband would do, right?

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I'm going to do it anyway.

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And it's actually the jalapeno wine that catapulted us into the commercial business because it

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was what people responded to because it was so different and it turns out it is really

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fun and good.

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So that's sort of our backstory of how we became a winery that never would have been.

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So what is your story before that?

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Because I know you're a marketer and that's kind of your background in marketing and what

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was Von's like, you know, adult job, I guess, and what was, where was he going?

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What was he doing?

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Yeah, so you're right, my background was marketing and I was in event coordination for a computer

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company when I met Von.

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He was a, oh, I guess sort of a quasi engineer.

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He did like packaging and manufacturing.

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So he's the guy that would design packaging for different boxes for computers and he would

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manage an entire facilities operation.

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And he's also a former, he was in the Navy, so he's a Navy vet.

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So he's got a lot of that just mad science knowledge and he can build anything.

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So when we met, I was very much in marketing and event coordination and I actually left

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to start my own fitness business because I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and

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I knew I always wanted my own business.

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So I sort of did that for a while, had my own bootcamp and personal training business.

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And then he continued to work in the computer industry and then he moved on to city government,

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which was not a good match for him.

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It's all light and fluffy with city government.

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It's always nothing but one big barrel of laughs and fun.

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And a lot of meetings, turns out.

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Lots of meetings, I can only imagine.

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I've never worked in there, but I can't imagine it's anything but meetings and more meetings

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and memos and things like that.

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Exactly.

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So he just needed a way out and luckily we had one.

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Were you always wine drinkers?

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I was, yes.

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As soon as I turned 21, I just dove right in.

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And the weird thing is a lot of people say they start with white wines because they can't

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quite handle red.

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I was the opposite.

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I didn't actually drink white wine until about six years ago.

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So I started drinking wine because I was very much into fitness and wine was less calories

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than a Long Island.

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True.

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Although a Long Island is mostly, it's mostly liquor, not a lot of mixer.

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So that's probably the better of the cocktails because you don't have a lot of the mixers

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and the juices.

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I just remember there being like, it was very adamant that it had to either be wine or clear

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liquor because the non-clear liquor has a lot of sugar in it.

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So really I started drinking wine because I knew I could have five ounces for about

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125 calories.

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Oh, geez.

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Okay.

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So you were the first that has brought fitness and calorie counting into your reason to get

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into wine.

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But I mean, everybody has their why and it's not the same.

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And I mean, for some it's like you start with like, you know, Boone Hills Farm and, you

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know, whatever in high school and college because it's cheap or two buck chuck or, you

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know, whatever it is.

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And that's kind of how you start down the wine path.

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And others, I mean, for us, it was, you know, we started with IPAs and beer and my husband

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went straight to red.

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Like he didn't like white wine either.

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He just would prefer the reds and I think it's because of his palette for IPAs just

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kind of is better drawn to red wine.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, definitely.

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It could be.

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Yeah.

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And white wine, I guess if you go back to the calorie counting is probably higher in

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sugar and probably higher in calories because of the way it's made.

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Yeah, unless it's really dry.

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You know, I like a good dry white wine, but well, now I don't even I don't even worry

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about it anymore.

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I mean, now I'm 40 and I don't really give two shits.

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You do get to the age usually where you just don't give two shits about what you're eating

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and what you're drinking and you just want to enjoy life and life is way too short to

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count calories and worry about your clear liquors and sugarless wines.

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Exactly.

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There are some fit, quote unquote, wines right now that I keep seeing that are kind of whatever

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and I just, you know, bless their hearts, just kind of have to roll my eyes and go,

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is it really that much better or different or less calories or?

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And is it worth the flavor?

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You know?

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Yeah, exactly.

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What am I trading?

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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Always interesting.

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Okay.

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So as long as you are not an estate winery or tasting room that's in the middle of a

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vineyard or out in the rolling hills of wherever, you are an actual urban winery in Boise, outside

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of Boise?

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In Boise.

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In Boise.

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In Garden City, which is a city in Boise.

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Okay.

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It's, that's why I asked.

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Yeah.

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Because I'm like, it's almost like a district inside the city and blah, blah, blah.

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So people are a little bit mystified by urban wineries and you know, are they really serious?

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Is the wine worth drinking?

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Did I actually really go visit?

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And I would say yes, yes, yes, and yes to all of that stuff.

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So let's talk about urban wineries and you know, what it is and what makes it different

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other than, you know, obvious, the obvious and kind of what you guys are doing out there

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in Boise.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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So very much an urban winery and you're right.

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We get that all the time.

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And so in our situation too, we're a lot like others where we're actually in a strip mall.

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So it's even more confusing for people to grasp that there is a winery in the strip

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mall and we're in a strip mall though with another brewery and a cidery, which does make

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it a lot of fun.

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We call ourselves adult beverage row.

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That's a great name.

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Yeah.

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You guys should actually just brand that and have your own little, you can have your own

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little pub crawl.

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We do.

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And so actually we just had it.

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Our annual, it's called the strip mall crawl is every July.

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So we just had it and it's so much fun, but really a lot of fun and it kind of was born

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for that point of showing people these establishments that are urban.

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Yes.

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We're in a strip mall.

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And so from the outside, I get it.

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It just looks like any old place, but in the inside, the one thing that people, as soon

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as they walk in to our establishment or the brewery or the cidery is, Oh, it's really

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nice in here.

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And in fact, I'm going to do a social media video one day of us like mocking, like, Oh,

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it's really nice in here.

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You know, it must be the common reaction when people walk in.

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Yep.

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For a hundred percent.

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And I get it.

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But the nice thing about us is, so we do make everything in the back.

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We produce all of our wines in the back of our wineries.

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We have about a little over, it's probably about 3,500 square feet.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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I mean, it fills up fast.

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We are definitely full, but the front is a taste room and the back is where we make everything.

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And I tell people, you know, it's really not that different from an estate winery other

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than, yeah, we don't have the views, but we have the ambiance.

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We have amazingly fun events.

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We are close to restaurants, the greenbelt, the river recreation.

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So this whole idea of being able to go have a glass of wine or go buy a bottle right after

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work, you don't have to drive 40 minutes or an hour to go see us and have a really delicious

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glass of wine.

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Well, and you're a serious winery.

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So it's not like you're doing some kitschy, you know, kitschy winemaking.

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It's actual serious good wine.

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Right.

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And I think that's part of the myth with the whole thing too is that, are they just taking

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two buck chuck and adding their label or adding some sugar and some lemon or something to

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it to make it their own when in actuality you're sourcing grapes from the vineyards

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in the area, I'm assuming, and making wine in a high level fashion.

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Right.

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Yeah, exactly.

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We're doing the same thing other wineries are doing.

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We're just, we don't have our own grapes.

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We just contract with other growers, but we're bringing those grapes.

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They maybe travel 45 minutes on the back of a truck during harvest and then they're in

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our facility and we begin the crush.

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So it's the exact same, like you said, winemaking experience, but it's funny that you say that

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because I never ever thought in my head when we opened our urban tasting room that people

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would think that we weren't making our own wine until we started like every once in a

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while we'll get a question sort of nailing what you said is, oh, do you just buy juice

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and bottle it and call it your own?

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And I was so shocked the first time I heard somebody ask that, I'm like, why would you

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think that?

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So I think there's a lot of things that I didn't realize people would have a perception

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of, but I think it's getting more common now.

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I think it's getting more common, but I think people are also confused with like a custom

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crush wine label or whatever, and there's nothing wrong with custom crush, but you are

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buying someone else's juice typically.

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You don't always have kind of your say on how the styling is going to go or the winemaking

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is going to go and you pick out the labels and put them on and voila, you pay the taxes

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and it's your bottle.

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And so I think I get asked, actually even my mom, she's like, how does blah, blah, blah

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make their own wine?

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They're on the coast.

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And I'm like, somebody else is making their wine.

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They've created the labels and then they just basically put their labels over the shiner

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bottles and voila, it's their wine.

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And she's like, oh, I never really realized that people do that.

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And I'm like, there's a lot of that that you don't realize because once you put the label

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on the bottle, it's a completely different product then.

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Hello, grocery store wine.

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Yeah, it's a lot of grocery store wine.

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Which is fine.

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And there's nothing wrong with that.

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And there's really a piece and a place for everybody in the wine industry from strictly

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a state to where they grow the fruit, crush the fruit, put it in the bottle in the same

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location versus a custom crush and what you guys are doing, which is sourcing from local

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growers and being probably pretty particular about who you're working with and what you're

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buying and the quality of fruit you're bringing in and then you're making it all yourself.

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You're just presenting it in a different sort of location that people are still kind of

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getting used to.

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And I think, I mean, I didn't know they existed at all until I started into the wine industry

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and I'm like, oh, all these places in Portland.

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How are they doing this?

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I don't get it.

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They're in a garage.

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They're in the middle of the industrial district.

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Is this really good wine that's coming out of here?

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And the answer is usually yes and it's really great wine.

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So it was really fun hanging out with you guys and kind of learning about everything.

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Good.

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Well, we were sort of inspired to back before we, because we've been doing this commercially

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for 10 years, but we've only had our brick and mortar for four years now since 2018.

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And what sort of inspired us to do it, because originally we thought, well, how do we do

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this?

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You know, because the whole joke about how to make a million dollars in the wine business

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is to start with two.

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Or 10.

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Or 10.

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Well, yeah, now two is not enough, but we just weren't, we did not have that financial

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backing.

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We are, I mean, native Idaho and it's very much blue collar.

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And so we knew we had to do it in a scalable way and we knew we had to start small and

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we knew we weren't just going to make bank right out of the gate.

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It was going to take time and it does take time.

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But what inspired us was going to Walla Walla and seeing, you know, all those urban wineries.

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There's, I don't even know how many now, more than probably 70 just downtown maybe, or that

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might be off on that.

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But to see them, you know, of course they either make their wine offsite or maybe some

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of them are doing custom crush, but to see them making it work and having this great

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urban tasting room was so inspiring.

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And that's a cool locale to go to.

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The ambiance is everything because you can have a, you know, a convenience store, storefront

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type look.

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And then when you walk in, you have this, oh my gosh, aha moment where you're like,

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this is actually a really cool kind of kick ass space.

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You know, the ambiance is here and the music's kind of jamming and you know, there's people

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and it's not just these sterile tables with like, you know, checkered tablecloths over

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the top of them, like a deli.

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I think that's what a lot of people imagine that you're just going to be like the local

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deli and order your wine and off you go.

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It's, you know, you do have kind of a really cool spot in there.

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Yeah.

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Thank you.

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Yeah.

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I want to shift to wine because you have lots of different kinds of wine.

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You have amazing labels on some of them.

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Like I was so blown away by the Minx label that's here.

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And then you have like a series of them that are kind of all part of this that have these

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really cool kind of old time vibe people photos.

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I don't even know how you really explain it.

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And then we've got to talk about the lemonade, alla pinot wine, because that's a whole nother

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ball game.

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So we'll start with the cool labels and what your actual wine is, and then we'll finish

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up with the lemonade because I think people are going to be a little bit surprised by

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that.

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Oh, for sure.

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Yes.

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Which we're used to.

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Yes.

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But the traditional wines, yeah, we make, I mean, we make Chardonnay, we make an unoaked

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Chardonnay stainless steel, which is fun because that's another wine that people are just kind

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of now, you know, that style, the stainless steel is sort of a big, it just kind of blows

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people's minds.

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And we make rosés, we make Cabs, Merlots, Syrah, you name it, but our labels are born.

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So Vaughan and I really have an affinity for the 1920s, 1930s, that whole Art Deco look

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and feel.

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I love that era.

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Yeah.

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The Great Gatsby era.

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Exactly.

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And, but we're also, like I said, native Idahoan, so we like to sort of put both together.

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So on our traditional bottles, we try to always have elements of the Art Deco feel.

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And we have a lot of characters on our bottle labels, which, you know, after going through

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TTB label approvals, we tweak a little bit until they're happy and then we run with it.

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So our traditional bottles are definitely high quality wines, but we try, we have a

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motto that make wine fun, because obviously we come from a really different background

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than many, like a lot of people actually plan to have a winery.

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Like I said, we did not.

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So our whole motto is, let's have fun with it.

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Yes, we can make serious, delicious wines, but let's be honest, how many of us pick a

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wine because of the label?

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Oh, I'm 100% guilty on it.

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Yeah, me too.

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I mean, even just walking through the grocery store the other day, which I don't typically

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buy wine from grocery stores the other day, but everyone's all, stop and look just to

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kind of see who's doing what in it or in the beer section.

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Same thing.

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I'm like, who has the cool cans right now?

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You know, whose branding is like popping off the shelf?

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And I love good branding and good marketing and great labels and like the labels with

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the 1920s would completely like almost like reach out and grab you, I think off the shelves.

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Absolutely.

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And we use a lot of color, which in the wine, in the wine industry, I think kind of shocks

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people because if you think about high end wines, most of the labels are cream and gold

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and they're beautiful and there's nothing wrong with them.

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I mean, there's a ton of wines that I buy the labels because they're gorgeous, but we

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love color and we like things that pop and we don't want to be afraid of it.

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So this feels very Hollywood as well.

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Exactly.

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Yeah.

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Like even the time, the dots in the M look like almost like spotlights.

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Yeah, exactly.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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So which we just kind of have fun with it and then we try to also bring some history

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into it.

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So like the 19th, the Tempranillo and we call it the 19th.

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It was named after the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

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So that's why there's the image of a woman on the front and then we pull in that it was

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ratified in 1921.

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That's why we released it last year, a hundred year anniversary of the 19th amendment.

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So, and it's just fun, you know, pull some history.

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And then we have an Idaho heritage series.

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Those are our really high end wines where we just have maybe a few barrels of something

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really good and they're high end and we have pictures of our families from, we're seventh

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generation Idahoans, our kids are.

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So we pull an Idaho history from old days and have fun with those labels too.

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That's so fun.

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And it's fun to be able to kind of wrap your family history into a project as well.

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Cause it just, I think it gives you kind of this really cool lineage that continues to

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live on, even if it's at somebody else's house.

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Right.

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Yes.

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And they may not fully appreciate it, but you can.

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You know, it's really funny because a lot of people do.

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I think that connection, like I think people appreciate the thought that you put in to

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not only the wine, but the labels as well.

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We get that a lot and that's, that's really cool.

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It's cool that it's been appreciated because it makes it fun for us and it makes it worth

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doing too.

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It's like having a package that has like really beautiful elaborate, like packaging and bows

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and things like that.

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So, and I know it's a little bit different and, but there's still a prize on the inside.

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You just got to get through it, whether it's cork or ribbon or paper or whatever it is.

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It's a liquid prize.

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It's a liquid prize that has extra benefits, you know, health and a buzz, you know, depending

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on how much.

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Yeah.

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And you're sharing it with, well, either maybe you're not sharing.

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I mean, no judgment because I certainly, there's time to don't share, but maybe you're sharing

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it with somebody and it's, I don't know, it's, wine is still, I feel like wine is something

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meant to tell a story, whether it's on the bottle or in the bottle or both.

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For sure.

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And we've talked about it several times that, you know, wine is just a time capsule of whatever

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had happened that year or, and sometimes you get it, you know, an over vintage and a blend

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of two years, but you know, a lot of times you bottle whatever the season held and then

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wrap it with whatever pretty package you're going to put it in.

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And as you said, like right now, glasses for bottles is very scarce.

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And so when you get them, you bottle and that's again, why Vaughn's not here, but I've seen

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a lot of people go to different packaging as well, whether it's the bags or the plastic

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bottles or kegs.

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And so, and you have some wines that are actually in the bags too, which for those of us that

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like to spend time on the river, those bags are miracle.

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They're so great.

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You don't have to worry about breaking glass or taking your corkscrews or anything like

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that with you.

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Exactly.

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Yes.

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I love the alternative packaging.

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You know, it kind of started with screw caps.

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We're kind of the very start and now it's like you said, bags and kegs and really fun

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things.

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But the interesting thing about, you know, I don't know about you, but I grew up with,

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I think we had a box of Fransi in our fridge when I was a kid.

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It's not that wine anymore.

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It's high quality wines that are going in alternative packaging.

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And so I think, and I think most people kind of are coming, you know, they've come to terms

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with that or are coming to terms with that.

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But before I think the perspective was, oh, you can't have a good wine in an alternative

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package.

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In a box.

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Yeah, and you certainly can now.

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Yes, I agree.

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Well, let's talk about the Alipino wine because that's comes in a bag.

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And when Vaughn and Ryan first mentioned it, I know I turned my nose up at it.

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I'm like, do I really want to try that?

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They're like, you definitely need to try this.

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I'm like, okay, I'm game for anything.

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You know, put it in the glass.

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And I think you had regular, you had strawberry and you had watermelon at the time.

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There's peach in my glass right now.

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This is such a great alternative version of wine.

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Yes.

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Yes.

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So let's, what's in it?

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Okay.

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So we make a full strength Alipino wine and yes, it is fermented with jalapenos and Riesling

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at the same time.

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So we go through the whole winemaking process with it and we ferment the Riesling off dry.

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And so when the grapes are coming in, we're getting local peppers from our farmers that

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we've met at the farmer's markets and we're doing it all separately, of course, from our

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traditional wines.

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And so this full strength, 13% alcohol wine is made and it is great for sipping or cooking

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or cocktails.

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Well, when we first emerged with that wine, we were trying to show people how to use it

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because we were at farmer's markets handing out samples and a lot of people were like,

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oh, jalapeno wine.

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What do I do with it?

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Like, yeah, I'm intrigued, but what do I do with it?

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And so the lemonade was actually born from, we went next door to our lemonade vendor friend.

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I bought a lemonade because it was hot that day.

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I'm not a huge lemonade fan or wasn't at the time.

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So I said, oh, I wonder how it'd be with this jalapeno wine in there.

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And I took one sip and I handed it to Vaughn and I said, this is delicious.

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This just made lemonade better.

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And so we started sampling it that way to people and that is when the consumer response

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just went up.

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So we-

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It exploded.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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And I think at the time we knew that we wanted to package it differently because, hello,

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if you're making a product that is so different, the package should represent that.

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So we looked to the pouch.

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It just took off from there, I think.

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So there's jalapeno wine in there.

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We make our own homemade lemonade and that is it.

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Lemon juice, sugar, water, and jalapeno wine.

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And I will say, going back to the jalapeno wine itself, it's usually in a smaller bottle

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and it's great.

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I think I've marinated and done shrimp in it.

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I've done it with chicken and it just adds a little bit of extra kind of tang and twang

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to it and a little bit of bite.

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And I haven't tried it in a martini or a cocktail like that, but I bet it's really good as well.

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Yeah.

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It's really good.

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We do a Chipotle.

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We do a Chipotle, but the Chipotle is really good in a Bloody Mary.

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I don't think I did grab that one, but I know they sent me home with a whole bunch of recipe

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cards with different stuff and I may or may not have them left somewhere.

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A little overwhelming, probably.

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Well, I walked out of there with so much wine that day.

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Yeah.

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So much wine that day.

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I'm like, oh yeah, just add that to the pile.

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Oh yeah, just add that to the pile.

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I was like your best customer that week.

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Oh, yay.

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I think it was several hundred dollars by the time I got done with my pile of wine.

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I think I walked home, or when I got home, I did not walk home, but when I got home,

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my husband was unloading the pickup or the car, whatever I had that day.

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And he's like, oh my God.

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He's like, do we not have enough wine?

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And I'm like, there's no such thing.

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And then I brought out, I think I ended up with a whole case, I think, of, of potter

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wine.

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This, that, and this and that, and this and that.

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And I think Vaughn threw in a shiner of, I think it was a Riesling of some sort that

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he had done.

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And so yeah, I ended up with all kinds of, yeah, all kinds of stuff.

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You got the old Riesling.

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That was the two year in barrel Riesling.

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Yeah.

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Yes.

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Okay.

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And I think I just recently opened it and it was definitely different.

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I'm like, this is definitely not a normal Riesling.

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It's, you know, it had been, you know, whatever, you know, you had done to it.

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So yeah.

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So I'm at the end of my supply.

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So I will not make it back to Boise this time, but that does not mean I can't mail order.

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That's right.

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Yes.

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And you brought me some goodies.

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Yeah.

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I'll send those home with you.

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Let's tell people where they can find you.

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So now that we've talked about the jalapeno wine and the lemonade jalapeno wine and your

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other wines and these gorgeous labels, people's got to come either come see you or just order

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and have it shipped.

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Yes.

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So you can come see us.

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We're in Garden City, Idaho, a taste room there.

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We're open Thursdays through Sundays, and we do a lot of events in there too.

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You know, whether they're public events, private events on the days we're not open.

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You can find us on our website at potterwines.com or jalapenowine.com and Instagram and Facebook,

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and I'm finally making myself try TikTok.

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So we're on TikTok, but bear with me.

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I'm in the same boat.

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My lovely daughter helped me set up my TikTok and showed me how to use it, and then she

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blocked me.

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So bless her heart.

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I still claim her, but it was almost hurting of my feelings that I was going to be that

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irresponsible with TikTok, that I had to be blocked, and she didn't want me snooping on

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all of her stuff.

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So you know, there's that too.

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So anyhow, so I'm learning how to use it too, so I'm right in the same boat.

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Anyhow, well, thank you so very much for coming out and joining us and being versatile with

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your time and bringing us some goodies to try, and we'll catch you back up.

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So make sure and tell the boys hi, and we'll catch you next time around.

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Thanks for having me.

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It's like double-barrel content.

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It can be utilized for several different things.

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It's taking everything I have to not reach in Daniel's plate and take his croutons.