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Chamard Business Plan, Explained

In a Letter to the Editor, the general manager briefly explains the wine business, their business model, and proposed improvements to the vineyard.

 

This letter is written by Jeff Vernon, General Manager, Chamard Vineyards:

Many folks in Clinton have called Chamard a jewel over the years and we want very much to retain that designation and remain a beautiful working farm in our neighborhood. 

However; we need a more dynamic business model to be a viable business in today’s competitive global wine environment in very harsh economic times.  Liquor stores are filled with many good and great wines, from around the world, at price points well below the pricing for Chamard wines.  This is because the production pressures facing Chamard are far greater than most wine producing areas in the rest of the world. In short, we are not commercially viable on a solely wholesale basis.    

  • Our vinifera grape yields per acre are fractions of leading regions in the world are able to produce. 
  • Additionally, disease, insect, and bird pressure force our growing costs to be multiples higher than those in more arid climates.
  • Traditionally, about 50% of the grapes used for wine produced here at the winery come from off the farm. Our goal is to increase the grape production on the property, ultimately filling the cellar to its capacity in 2016 when the young vines begin to yield fruit.

We need customers to come to the vineyard and buy our wines at retail.  Not only do we earn a higher margin selling at retail, we enhance the experience of the wine drinker, creating value when they experience beautiful views and open space of the vineyards. 

  • Maintaining beautiful vineyards, a winery, and farmland requires great effort and expense. 
  • To be break-even in an environment where our production costs are higher, our yields are lower, and we incur great expense to maintain a showpiece farm, we need to build more into every customer transaction and have larger transaction amounts. 
  • We look to build more value into every customer transaction through farm tourism. Additionally, selling food raises the transaction amount of customers, helping us with much needed revenue.
  • Pairing wine with food also provides a safer wine-drinking environment. 

These changes will happen within the existing farm buildings.  No additional buildings or any other change in operations is planned for our farm tourism efforts. 

  • We have done an extensive traffic study.  Increased traffic to the winery will have minimal to no impact on the adjacent roads.
  • All operations will take place inside the building and have no impact on the neighborhood.

In the past we have focused on larger outside events, typically under tents to increase farm revenue.  We have been granted the right to perform eight of these events during the year, ending at 10pm.  We understand and appreciate that these events have an impact on our surrounding neighborhood. 

  • For the future, we have decided to theme our eight outside events on the celebration of Connecticut farming.  Our events will be a combination of public farm festivals and farm dinners, while others will be private weddings, or corporate gatherings, etc.  These private events will be tightly monitored and themed on a farm to fork type dinner.  
  • We will limit the music volume to remain within the CT DEEP noise statutes and we will require outdoor music to end at 8pm.
  • We have already made the change with our event team for all events next year and have engaged a sound engineer, acoustic engineer and have purchased sound monitoring equipment.  We are working on sound abatement solutions to minimize our impact on the community. This effort will be ongoing and we recognize that changes may be necessary along the way as we gain more knowledge, experience and feedback from our events.

We hope our neighbors and the Town of Clinton will embrace these improvements and recognizes the progress we have made in response to the feedback we have received since June.  Please come support us at the public hearing on Sept. 5 at 7pm in the Town Hall.  If you have any questions on any of our proposals and would like to meet or talk with me personally, please call my cell at 860-304-4903. 

Thanks for you time and support,

Jeff Vernon

General Manager

Chamard Vineyards

Editor's note: The continuation of Chamard Vineyard's public hearing regarding their application before the town's Planning & Zoning Commission takes place Wednesday, Sept. 5, 7pm, in the Rose Room (downstairs) at Clinton Town Hall.

Pat Healey September 05, 2012 at 01:23 AM
This past Saturday I had to close my windows and put on the air conditioners at 9:30 pm and I live 1/2 mile from the Chamard main building. A good question would be if they consider a tent an indoor event or an outdoor event since they propose not to have live music after 8:30 outside.
Jonathan Sanders September 05, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I live 6/10ths of a mile away as the crow flies and his past Saturday the music was so loud I could clearly understand all of the song lyrics. it must have been unbearable to those nearby and at the event.
Cletus September 05, 2012 at 11:51 AM
I am in support of local businesses and will vote as such as long as the proposed noise ordinance (curfew/ 8 event limit) is seen through. I don't live in the surrounding area but do believe 8:30pm on a Saturday is reasonable.
Vindaloo September 05, 2012 at 12:29 PM
9:30 pm?........on a Saturday evening?.......on a holiday weekend?....no outdoor live music after 8:30?.........????????. On a Saturday evening, especially during a holiday, you should be able to have music until 10pm. That's the limit in almost every town that has an ordinance. Enjoy the free concerts. "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til it's gone".
Don Kaiser September 05, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I too am a Clinton resident and my house if off Cow Hill Road. I am in favor of supporting Chamard Vineyards efforts to add a bistro restaurant and to host 8 to 12 events a year. A new treat of food and wine woukld be an asset to Clinton and it's citizens. We could use the revenue too. Let's not be too hypocritical about the noise either. I hear LOUD MUSIC at least 10 times during the summer months from neighbors having graduation or some sort of holiday party which means noise up to 10:00 PM. Do I complain? No, becuase it happens only a few times and these are fellow citizens that aren't bad people, they are just having fun.
Vindaloo September 05, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Exactly! People are just having fun. Life goes on all around us. Remember...The rules we set up for Chamard are rules WE (the whole town), will also have to abide by.

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