Ive had plenty of time to think about things recently. Its weird to think that the Arkle opens again next Tuesday, thats my holidays gone and disappeared in no time. Which is a bit of a cheek really, because Im not actually returning to work until the 25th, as Im going to be in Edinburgh for the Australia Day tastings. And by the time I actually return to work on the 25th, I will in fact have had a whole month off. Yes the last day that I actually worked was the 24th December. (Not strictly true as I went in to help count the cellar for the stocktake.) A whole month! I can hadly believe it. But the truth is that I cant wait to get back to work. There are so many things that I want to do this year, and it seems that Ive had so long off, I need to get my head back into the game.
This month off has given me some time to read some of my wine magazines that had been building up neglected in the corner of my room. Ive had a chance to trawl around some websites and reading up on the latest wines to hit the shelves from Australia, New Zealand, California, Washington, British Columbia, Oregon, South Africa, France, Italy etc etc. Ive had a chance to start thinking about really taking control of the wine-list and marking my territory with it. Taking it forward to match with what the customers are asking for and what is selling well. How I want to present the list, categories, sommeliers selections, producer profiles, monthly newsletters that can highlight new wines, special offers etc.
We are making some progress in the cellar too. Quotes have been sought out to replace the wooden shelving in the cold room with proper wine racking, this will enable us to rack up much more wine in a more efficient manner that should also help shave nearly half an hour off the stocktake. Might even improve the accuracy of the count with some of the wines. As soon as thats done we will be able to move a lot of stock out of the holding cage and bring them onto the list. By the middle of the year, we ought to have somewhere in the region of 1500 bins on the wine-list. I want to bring in more funky wines - smaller grower producers, quirkily named wines, bring in some more obscure regions and countries - greece, british columbia, oregon, washington state.
I plan to progress further within the court of master sommeliers too this year, hopefully getting a place on the Advanced Sommelier course. As well as this, for my own personal development I plan to concentrate on Italy, as it is my achilles heel. Next year I want to arrange a sommelier trip to Tuscany or Piedmonte with one of our suppliers, so I ought to be better informed on the wines of Italy before I make a fool of myself.
Im now in my third year of my initial five year plan with the Grosvenor and about halfway through my own goals and objectives that I had set myself within that plan. There are still some key issues that need some attention, notably salary and hours, but progress comes slowly. Looking back at 2006 it was quite successful in many ways and hopefully we can continue to build on that and make 2007 a great year.