Footprints Without a Path


Harvest is underway in the Napa Valley and there are many growers still looking for buyers of their grapes.  The irony is that this is shaping up to be a great crop.  So what happened?  Well growers that often operate by the traditional handshake are finding that wineries just aren’t willing to take a risk this year.  With fine wine sales off 20% + many vintners are getting nervous about growing inventory.

I have heard that some big wineries cancelled their long-term contracts which has left the growers with fruit ready to …

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When less is more

I just finished a fascinating book by Matthew E. May called In Pursuit of Elegance. It includes a number of interesting examples, including concepts drawn from application of the Kaizen method at Toyota.

 But one of its central themes is that elegance requires subtraction.  One of the reasons we are having an economic adjustment right now is that we have spent much of the last five years in an additive state – increasing our ownership of property, buying ever larger automobiles, and packing our homes with stuff. Our corporations were bloated, our governments inefficient, and our time jammed with activities.

We have seen painful …

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Dave’s Mad as Heck at the State of California

California has adjusted its tax tables, exemptions, and certain credits for deflation, resulting in a higher tax liability for anyone who has made exactly the same income as they made in 2008.

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Finding Gold


Here we are in the middle of an economic mess.  The headlines read ‘we’ve hit bottom’, ‘turnaround is near’, rebound will be gradual’ and on an on.  I am frankly tired of all the negative news, so I decided to jump back into my recent photo albums to see what I could discover.   It didn’t take long for me to find the picture above. 

While on vacation in Kauai I was in full tourist mode.  Of course, I had to stop at all the lookout points.  However, when I stepped from …

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Making hay while the sun is shining


I was driving through Napa with the air in my face on a perfect day when I saw this hay neatly stacked.  …

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Headed in the Right Direction?

Secluded bay
Where do I start? Our family vacation took us to Kauai and it was the perfect place to recharge.  As I thumb through the hundreds of pictures I am quickly taken back to another world.  I think of the many places we discovered and the endless beauty that was awaiting us around the next bend. 

In a way, I was not much different than the many tourists that come to our backyard, Napa Valley. There we were, driving up the road with anticipation of what we would see next and probably …

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Now that’s a Weedeater!


You have to love a serious machine like this.  Just look at it…hydraulic hoses, retention devices, plenty of steel and hidden blades that can do some real damage.  Although this is not a new contraption it still gets the job done.  It has the ability to get to the weeds that grow between the vines.  Of course it does require the operator to position it correctly but that is where ingenuity came in. 

This particular implement had been stashed in the back of the barn for years because it was just difficult to use …

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5 Things Every Business Could Learn from Wineries

There are many things about the winery business that are fantastic.  There’s all of the magic and mystery associated with raising a crop.  And there’s that air of elegance and refinement that is the product itself , not to mention all of those french words.  Plus the power to intoxicate.  It’s not likely that a sock manufacturer is going to replicate that magic or mystery.

But there are some basic elements of the way wineries do business that other industries would do well to model:

1.  Treat your customers and prospects like family. Make them feel welcome. Offer them food, provide comfortable seating and establish …

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T’was a Spring Day


With our firm’s “harvest” over it was time to get our team out of the office and into the vineyard to learn about spring farming activities.  Thanks to Debby Zygielbaum the vineyard manager at Robert Sinskey Vineyards, our team was introduced to the many tasks underway in the vineyards.  With a light mist in the air and a nice chilly breeze at our side we trooped along like a bunch of curious pups.  We ventured to the top of the hill to see the results of  pruning and to learn about the …

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We’re mad as heck and we’re not going to take it any more!


After fuming about this issue for a couple of days, I decided to help gather my fellow CPAs together and see what we could do to stop the IRS in their tracks. It seems the IRS has decided to come after some wineries for using LIFO  to value their inventory. 


Last week , with the help of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, we brought Washington Insider, Dean Zerbe, …

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