You’re probably familiar with the term “Strategic Partnerships.” It’s a pretty common part of today’s business vernacular. But there are certainly variations as regards the breadth of definition. For example, in our business, a narrow definition of a strategic partnership would be for us, as a producer of wines, to reach out to someone who is a seller of wines. Certainly strategic, but not particularly imaginative.
I like to think that, here are Ridge, we have a pretty expansive definition of what constitutes a strategic partner, due in no small part to that fact that, while we are indeed a business that “sells” something (i.e. wine), what we “sell” is as much philosophy and worldview, as it is product. And truly, I think we share it, as opposed to sell it.
The point being that when we think of strategic partnerships, we tend to think of people/groups/organizations/businesses with which we share a philosophy and worldview, as opposed to people/groups/organizations/businesses that are simply in the same business as us.
One of the things I love most about Ridge Vineyards is that we seem forever to be engaged in a perennial dance of reconciliation, forever enacting an integrative duality, always striving to bridge the cerebral and the physical, the artistic and the scientific, the tangible and the ephemeral, the high brow and the low brow, the lovely and the funky, the studied and the instinctual. Ridge Vineyards is a Yin Yang composed of one-half mercurially austere seriousness and one-half playfully even-handed populism. Ridge is deadly serious about making something that is really, really fun to enjoy.
This is what we look for in our “strategic partnerships,” shared sensibilities in all the regards noted above.
Enter, oddly enough, shoes. You may have seen a previous post on this blog in which I waxed long and luxuriously on the footwear of wine. (If not, you can check it out here.) The point being, that through a very interesting and enjoyable set of circumstances, I have come to know one of our Monte Bello Collector members as more than just a customer. I am happy to now count him not only as a friend, but also as a partner. He works for a shoe company, but believe you me, this ain’t sellin’ shoes like what Al Bundy did …
He works on the “Lifestyle” side of his business, which means that he spends a lot of time looking for a lot of strategic partnerships; partnerships of the very same sort of variety and character that we so very much enjoy.
And thus it was that I found myself in San Francisco recently, at the very fabulous Union Made store; an establishment with one of the better Mission Statements around:
In November of 2009 we opened a little shop where a liquor store used to be on a quiet little street between the Mission and Castro neighborhoods in San Francisco. The idea was to bring only the finest quality men’s goods to one intimate space, sell it a fair price and to deal with people who appreciate such merchandise and customer service. So we found a space and started making a list of our favorite brands. Brands that manufacture clothing that is durable, well designed and timeless. Jeans that a customer could wear for years and would sooner repair than replace; sweatshirts that get softer and more perfect after each laundry cycle; a shoe that will be just as relevant and better looking in 20 years then it is today. As word of our shop spread, we started getting requests from people all over the world for our hand picked clothing and dry goods. As our shop has evolved, so has our mission – to offer people everywhere the same quality service and products our customers in our little store on Sanchez Street. We are going back to our roots while knowing that the time we live in is now.
I was there representing Ridge Vineyards at the request of New Balance, who were launching a new line of artisan shoes made strictly in the USA.
Union Made, New Balance Made In The USA, and Ridge Vineyards. Now that’s a strategic partnership!
And how about this, shoes sold in a wine box! There’s another great bit of partnershipping:
Needless to say, it was quite an affair. I brought with me the following wines to taste guests on:
2009 Ridge Vineyards Estate Chardonnay (loads of lemon, honey, and pear, with a very fresh, but solidly built feel …)
2009 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville (the essence of elegance; spice, acidity, herbality, all wrapped up in a bow of high-tone red fruit …)
2005 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Estate Grenache (the most structured of the bunch, with amazing percolations of bright red fruit and spice inside a bodice of firm and mineral-y tannin …)
2008 Ridge Vineyards Estate Cabernet (complex, integrated, structured, a tremendous amount of information for the palate …)
And here are a few snaps from the event (I’ve also provided a link at the bottom of the page to Union Made’s blog, which has some lovely pics from the event as well!)
And here is Union Made’s wrap up: The Union Made Blog: Event Recap!