In February, Drew and I will be wrapping up 12 years of owning and operating Carpe Vino, and there is no question that 2013 was our best year so far. We set some very aggressive goals, and we accomplished most of what we committed to do. Looking back, it was an amazing time for all of us, with plenty of highlights and milestones. . .
Wine Club Membership Crushed the 1,000 barrier: We ended 2011 with barely 400 Wine Club members but over the next two years, we added 600. . .cresting 1,000 in mid-December this year. We’re at about 1,025 now, and Drew’s goal is to hit 2,000 members by the end of 2015. That’s pretty aggressive, so we’ll see. . .
Two OpenTable 3-Peats: In 2011 we were totally shocked when we made OpenTable’s Diner’s Choice Top 100 list of America’s Best Restaurants. The default reservation service for foodies across the country, OpenTable comprises 19,000 fine dine restaurants in its network. Early in December, we were one of only two restaurants in the nation to make this list and the Top 100 Most Notable Wine List three times in a row. . .each. We also made OpenTable’s Top 100 Fit-for-Foodies list, the only restaurant in the Sacramento region to be recognized.
“Shiner,” Our Own Wine Brand, Hits the Shelves: After talking about it for years, we finally created our own brand and launched our first wine under the Shiner label, a Napa cabernet sauvignon. The first vintage of 150 cases is sold out, and we’re on the hunt for more.
Great Press: All of us were totally surprised when we heard that we had been reviewed by Sacramento News & Review, a highly regarded alternative newspaper. Though reviews have been hard to come by since Mike Dunne awarded us four stars (out of four) in December 2008, SN&R’s Garrett McCord awarded us five stars (out of five) in mid-November. Then earlier this month, Ed Murrieta, food writer for the Sacramento Business Journal, sang our praises in an excellent piece illustrated with 13 photos. Perhaps Sactown and/or Sacramento Magazine will step up in 2014.
Set New Revenue Records: While we are a private company and do not publish financial information, December was the best month in our history, and we set a new revenue high for a single year with 25% annual growth.
More Rehab Progress: We operate from a 160-year-old building, and this year we were able to continue work to update our historic structure. These were improvements not apparent in the dining rooms, but we completed many important upgrades that help strengthen the integrity of the building as well as improve the customer experience.
Wine Tour of Spain is a First: In partnership with Earthbound Expeditions of Bainbridge, WA, we organized our first international wine tour. Our group of 20 explored wine country in Spain near Madrid and Barcelona for nearly two glorious weeks. Next up, we’re headed for Argentina and Chile at the end of April.
Courtney McDonald Returns as Pastry Chef: Courtney was Carpe Vino’s first chef, opening the restaurant with her partner, Eric Alexander, in 2006. She left our employ to pursue farming and other interests, but she returned this year to re-energize our dessert program as pastry chef. She’s doing a fabulous job, and we’re delighted to have her in the kitchen again.
It was, indeed, a remarkable year that was made possible only because of the loyal following of a legion of customers and an incredibly talented staff. I’ve said it a thousand times: our business is humming along on all eight cylinders: we have a fabulous chef backed by a talented crew; our service staff is among the best in the region; our facility is the real deal in a historic district; our wine program is second to none; and we have learned how to manage all the pieces to produce optimal results.
Now the trick is to do it all again in 2014. In that pursuit, we’ll look forward to welcoming you often to the friendly confines in Old Town Auburn.