All I’ve got, I had to steal

The wine industry has no idea what they’re in for.  I know.  I’ve been preaching the gospel to deaf ears.  I will find no solace in a “I told you so”.  Wine will be changed forever and not in a good way.

Wine Enthusiast just awarded Bill Foley Man of the Year.  My personal disappointment in this decision runs so deep it’s palpable. OK the fact that Wine Enthusiast thought that calling him “humble as he is an established leader” makes me want to vomit.

Foley is raiding the wine industry just like he raided Carl’s Jr. way back when and the title industry in the mid 80’s.  Consider this, in the mid 80’s the real estate industry was in the crapper and Foley bought Western Title, the benchmark for title insurance in California at the time.  Then he continued his raiding ways and built Fidelity National Title.  How many thousands of qualified title and escrow professionals are out of work because of his management style?  How many thousands were laid off, stripped of their benefits and then brought back at a third of the salary with no benefits to their old job?  You are all out there.  I know that.  How many times do I have to tell the same goddamn story to the wine industry?  By the time y’all hear me it will be too late.  It makes me sad for California wine.

Three days later Fidelity National Financial announced their earnings.

2010 was a successful year for FNF on a number of fronts. The Title business experienced strong refinance volumes due to the low mortgage interest rate environment, and we continue to closely manage our expense levels, producing our strongest title earnings and pretax margin in a number of years. The fourth quarter was particularly strong, with a 13.8% pretax margin. The strength of our 2010 earnings allowed us to set our annual 2011 common stock dividend at $0.48 or $0.12 per share per quarter based upon a 2011 dividend payout ratio of 30% of 2010 earnings. We remain the largest and most profitable title company in the country and despite a potentially more challenging environment, we are focused on producing strong title insurance earnings in 2011. ~Bill Foley

I bet it doesn’t feel that way for the poor schmucks that are grinding out a living working for that guy.  Not counting the 300 people who are going to lose their jobs, probably right about now.  We all remember that Foley’s compensation went up 171% in 2009.  Wonder what his increase was last year.

Dear Wine Industry, WAKE THE HELL UP!

The Place has Character

In my last post, I was able to introduce you to Oded Shakked of Longboard Vineyards. There are many characters who make the Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley appellations great. Rod Bergland of Joseph Swan is a francophile wine nerd who is a warm patient teacher. Ask Rod about where a wine is, (in its maturation) or about high alcohol wines or how dry is a dry Gewurztraminer and you’re going to get a lesson that you never saw coming. Rod is married to Lynn. Lynn is Jospeh Swan’s daughter. If you seen Rod and Lynn you’d assume they’re a couple of hippies hangin’ in the wine country. Great folks.
Lou Preston and his wife Susan own Preston of Dry Creek. Lou loves natural processes. He bakes bread (without yeast; wheat and yeast makes beer not bread, according to Lou). He cures his own olives and makes wonderfully pungent olive oil. Lou used to make 20 different varietals and his production must have been around 80K cases. Within the past 10 years he decided to go smaller. He decided to return the land to the way he found it. He found it supporting pigs and cattle and goats and wheat and olives and grapes. He felt the land was in balance when he bought it (and the surrounding farms were owned by generations old Italian families who welcomed him and taught him, sometimes implicitly, how to farm in balance.). Two years ago, when Lou slaughtered his first pig, he wanted to smoke ham, bacon and sausages they made from the pig. Their smoker was much too small. One of the guys, a man from El Salvador (I think) who worked in the vineyard, had the solution. They repurposed an old, wooden outhouse. They cleaned it out and mounted it over a hole stuffed with a stove pipe (pointing up through the crapper). The upturned pipe led to a pit filled with wood that was slowly burning. The smoke flowed without the heat. Beautiful natural process. Lou knows growing nothing but grapes is unbalanced. He did something about it. He grows grapes, olives, wheat, livestock, veggies and roses organically and sustainably. When you talk to him you don’t get a warm feeling. He’s curt, but he’s genuine.
Nicolai at Woodenhead is warm and gracious. Guy Davis of Davis Family Vineyards works his ass off. He harvests grapes in New Zealand, when it gets too dull down on the ranch. Ed Sbragia is regal. He earned his status after crafting some great Cabs at Beringer.
Seghesio Famly Winery is one of my favorites. Rachel Ann Seghesio died last week. She was married to the founder’s son, Pete. Her son, Pete, runs the winery with his cousin, Ted. Rachel Ann was the daughter of a grape grower (Passalaqua). Many of the Italian winemakers had come over to work the Italian Swiss Colony. The colony had a program where the immigrant workers could live cheap and either send the money home or save it. Mr Seghesio saved. He hoped to bring his love, who was still in Italy, to America. By the time he had saved enough the managers at Italian Swiss Colony (yes, the same winery Matthew Perry’s father used to advertise for) convinced him that his one true love has probably given up hope and married someone else. He was convinced to court Angela, a local Italian woman. Angela became Rachel Ann’s mother-in-law. Rachel Ann lived the post prohibition history of wine. If you tasted at Seghesio’s family table, Rachel Ann would come in with samples of her mother-in-law, Angela Seghesio’s, lace work and many family pictures. She would walk you through 60 years of the Dry Creek wine business. Rachel Ann was at all the winery events and she’d greet you by name. She remembered where you were from and she’d ask about the weather or the beach or a favorite dining spot. She was from my parents generation and she loved her parents generation. She loved her grandsons hanging on her hem, too. She is what the mega winery conglomerates (read Foley wine) can never become; a human face in front of a human business. The Seghesios have neighbors; the Raffanelis, the Rochiollis, the Parduccis, the Pedroncellis, the Teldeshis and I’m sure there are others who I’ve forgotten. Rachel Ann will be missed although the tradition of family owned and operated wineries lives in Sonoma County (not so much at Chalk Hill Winery, or Sebastiani winery, however). A little more on Rachel Ann can be found at;
http://www.seghesio.com/
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20101002/ARTICLES/101009872/1033

Everything’s a little clearer in the light of day

I think I’ve mentioned that I turned off my cable at the beginning of the year.  At the time it was a matter of expense.  Cable was expendable.  Since then I’ve found that life is better without cable.  Much better.  I think I’ve also mentioned that I’m working with a business coach, he’s a Buffini coach and they have a certain way of doing things.  When I went down to Monterey to see Brian Buffini he said “Turn off your cable, get rid of it.  If something big happens, somebody will tell you”.  And for the most part I’ve found that to be accurate.  I can watch a lot of stuff online.  Hulu.com is good for that and the big news stations all have their shows online either in real time or moments later.  If something happens that interests me I’ll go take a look.  I listen to NPR in the car and there’s a lot less noise, and no commercials on that station.  If I’m driving and the Giants are on I’ll listen to the game.   I listened to the 9ers game the other day.  I hear there are a few teams in Oakland. 

I hear there’s an election going on.  I just went through Garamendi’s mailer.  Here’s one that matters.  H.R. 5793, the Make It in America Act.  You’d almost think that his people were reading PBE.  Oh yeah, they are!   It closes the nine corporate loopholes that I’ve been complaining about that allowed our jobs to go to…let’s see, where was it?  Oh yeah BANGALORE!   And what the hell is “Customer Delight“?

The key to this economy is getting everyone back to work, but not just back to work as a barista at Starbucks but back to real jobs.  And the real jobs back to the real salary.  Seriously.  We can’t give you a raise or we’ll have to lay you off.  Really?  Why then isn’t Bill Foley out of work?  He got a 171% raise.  You teabaggers want to protest something?  Protest that.  There’s the true injustice in this country.  FNF employees being laid off and then brought back as temporary workers at 30% of their salary with no benefits while Bill Foley buys another winery.  Obama ain’t doing nothing to you clowns but getting you health insurance and a job.  Bill Foley is bending America over a barrel and we’re saying “Thank you sir may I have another”.  Enough is enough with that guy.  Add Chalk Hill to the boycott list -the deal went through.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6eE3ydPdDc

Good luck getting that out of your head today.

Straightnin’ the curves, Flatnin the hills

Oh my goodness!  Sometimes something happens in the comment section at PBE that I can’t hardly contain myself.  I’m going to quote this one.  It appears here.

I have read this blog on and off for the past 3 years.  I used to work for a Title Co and got laid off in 2007.  Prior to the company I got laid off from I worked for Foley.  My husband has worked in the wine industry for the past 15 years, and has been at the present winery for 5 years.  Two years ago Foley bought the winery were he works.  Now that Foley owns it we have a conversation every Friday night about who Foley fired during the week, who Foley laid off, or which employees got smart and walked out.
One of your first few lines stated that you wonder when the wine industry will find out that Foley is Satan. I guess it will take a while longer as Foley has just been nominated for “Man of the Year” by the Wine Enthusiast. They got it so terribly wrong.  I have lived in a famous wine region for all of my life (hence my name—Old Prune Picker, which is what this valley was made of before grapes). Foley knows nothing about the wine industry…he just likes to flash his money around.
So lets all Boycott anything to do with the “Wine Enthusiast”, their magazine, catalog, wine shop and website.

Word.

For what it’s worth the Chalk Hill sale went through last week.  Just another reason to hate Bill Foley and another wine to boycott.  And maybe a letter writing campaign to Wine Enthusiast.  That might be my little weekend project.  Who’s with me?

I was back up at Horse Jail yesterday.  I thought I got a great video but I didn’t.  After the kids had pony races, which is really a round of red light green light on a pony, the instructors got the kids out of the arena, took the saddles off the ponies and let them run.  And run they did.  Ponies can get up to a gallop in the arena because they’re smaller, the horses can’t.  The ponies ran laps and did jumps and all kinds of cool stuff for the kids.  I really need to read the manual on this phone of mine.  I could have gotten a great video, but I got nuthin’.

I was talking to another guy who was up there.  He’s a friend of the owner who was out of town.  His job was to be an adult and be sure that if a horse got sick the vet got called, be sure the puppy was safe, be sure none of the kids got hurt, crap like that.  That translated into hanging out and bullshitting with me all day.  The discussion started with me complaining that the ticket I got had little to do with traffic enforcement and everything to do with revenue generation.  He agreed and backed it up.  He has a friend who works in the court system who said that the Walnut Creek Police have a quota of five tickets every month they have to hit.  Their traffic commissioner is just running people over in court, just like what happened to me in Concord and they aren’t even allowing community service.  He had a friend who got a safety belt ticket sitting in the Safeway parking lot in a parking space not moving.  He said he saw the silver buckle and that’s how he knew she didn’t have it on.  She did.  He lied.  That’s what we’re up against people.

I don’t know if I can yell any louder

Today is a good day.  Y’all get to watch me weave this post together.

A little event occurred this week.  It was not lost on the Wine Dog.  The Burgermeister bought Chalk Hill Winery.  Supposedly he plans to live in the palacial main house.  I suppose the good news is to those in Whitefish, Montana, who, if you’re reading the comments sections are a little over his act.  Of course, the title insurance business is beyond over his act, but the wine business doesn’t know what they’re in for yet.  I’ve sounded the alarm but it’s fallen on deaf ears.  Let this be the “I told you so” post.  He is Satan.  He is going to ruin the wine industry.  Mark my words.  Consider yourselves informed.

[youtube AAie2R7m-n4]

What they should say is that she’s so bad, she isn’t even good at being bad.  I certainly respect her for her battle with breast cancer, but her battle was fought with the best Doctor’s money can buy.  Most women in this country would be just as well off trading a goat for medical services.  It certainly taints the results.  I haven’t been able to find the total number of layoffs from FNF in the last four years and of course we can’t count all the poor schmucks who are still there making 40% less than they were while he takes 171% increase in salary, but you get my drift.  Percentage wise, I bet FNF layoffs dwarf what Fiorina did at HP.   FNF is cut throat.  Foley is cut throat.  What on God’s green earth makes the wine industry think they are immune from this? The worst of it is that California wine is going to suffer because people have their heads buried in the sand.

Here’s what he did.  He took over, paid outrageous salaries, stole the best employees from good paying jobs and then fired them the minute the business had a pull back.  There are quality title officers and escrow officers with 30 years experience who can’t get a job right now because the work is being done predominantly in India for $16 a day.  American workers used to earn twice that in an hour.  Now the part of the job that is Stateside is being done by people being paid $15 an hour.  So think about spending four years at UC Davis or Sonoma and working your way up the food chain for the love of wine.  Then your winery is taken over by a corporate raider, you are now expendable and it’s over.  Just like that.  That’s the future of the wine industry with Bill Foley and is blood money.  It’s going to be bad.  Trust me on that.  I just pray the family wineries can stay the course and make it through his “serial acquiring” phase. I, for one, will support them with an unmatched fervor.  At the end of the day, I want good wine from California.  I want to enjoy the expression of the terroir.  And I don’t give a goddamn about distribution channels.  I’ll find the good stuff if you make it and I will testify from the highest mountain.  Don’t give in to Bill Foley.  Fight for your life.

Bill Foley is a corporate CEO in America.  That means all he cares about is himself and the bottom line.  Believe me there is a path littered with the rotting corpses of quality title and escrow staff who were tossed out by his machine.  He does every thing he can to skirt the DOI laws.  He does every thing he can to skirt the Labor laws.  He is not a nice man.  They cut every corner they can.  In case anyone has forgotten, this is what happens when you cut corners.

[youtube _N9LQNlX68w]

And eleven families will go on without their breadwinner.  Because BP wanted to close it down quicker.  They wanted to save time and money.  How’s that working for you now Tony?  Oh, you want your life back?  So do those eleven families.  And this is the mentality that goes on at the top in corporations.  And it’s wrong.  In BP’s case, it probably is criminally negligent.  I hope they get that “Company Man” and string him up and every one all the way up the BP food chain by the balls.  It’s wrong.  They will do it as long as we let them.  It’s time we said enough.  It’s no different than the abuses that occurred during the Industrial Revolution the resulted in unions.  It’s part of the plan to defang unions, but if companies would act right, unions wouldn’t be necessary.  I would like for their to be less regulation but as long as guys like Tony Hayward and Bill Foley continue to act like spoiled brats, regulation is necessary.  They’re spoiled little jerkoffs that can’t do the right thing if it’s counterintuitive to their personal greed.  And that’s wrong.   So I support regulation, because it’s necessary.  Like The Brother says “Act right and I’ll be out of business”.  Act right and there is no need for regulation.  The new business thinking is to get away with as much as you can.  And that’s wrong.  Bill Foley is wrong and will always be wrong.

Is it possible to do it right?  Hell yeah.  Check out this guy.  He made a gazillion dollars, he did the right thing every step of the way.  They were ahead of the curve in moving towards sustainable materials and he led the charge to leave our precious National Parks as pristine as they were found.  They pioneered organic sustainable recycled products in their clothing line and their equipment line.  So I’m not full of shit.  It’s possible to make a buttload of money while being responsible to your employees and your planet.  That makes people like Bill Foley, Tony Hayward and Carly Fiorina even more reprehensible.  Because they’re too stupid and ignorant to do it the right way.  This makes me think of a discussion I had with Michael Keenan about moving his winery to solar power.  He did the numbers and couldn’t justify not moving to solar power.  That is good management.  Using seawater because you want to go faster and killing eleven employees…you’re an asshole.  And a criminal.

Enough is enough.  Boycott Foley Family Wines or the Foley Portfolio or whatever he’s calling it these days.  It’s the right thing to do.

Some people came and listened, some of them came and played

It has been a long week.  I’m not sure why I took a divorce listing.  I guess I thought they could act right for the period of the listing.  Not so much.  Coupled with two and a half days out of town and the house being torn up so that the carpets could be cleaned while I was gone and you can put a fork in this dog.

We went down to Monterey for a seminar.  At the end of the day I believe it’s a system I need to make my business work better. I was even more interested once I found out that a local top producer who I really respect was there and used the system.  I’m not necessarily sure why I would want to give a rich man more money, but  conversely, what I’m doing is only marginally working.  And I really am not doing a great job with the nuts and bolts of running my personal business.

They went into great length about how most real estate agents are average, most people for that matter.  I’d say there’s a lot around here that are less than average, marginal on a good day.  I’m good at what I do, I’m just not great at the part where I do the books, plan the day, that sort of stuff.  I think my clients get exemplary service from a smart negotiator with a good eye for real estate.  My office looks like a crime scene.  That makes it harder for me to be good.  And I typically have no idea what’s in the bank and what bills are due, I don’t know my marketing budget and I’m not getting out on my bike like I want to because of the lack of organization.  What’s worse, I don’t really know how it should be.  So I chose to go with some business coaching to get this thing turned around.  And like I said, one of the area’s top producers was there, a member of the choir.  And it’s not like I don’t see her CLS550 parked out in front of my gym every morning.

I know I am not average in general.  But I am doing an average job of some things right now.  Even my income which took a beating for about six months, was way above average for a Realtor.  I am not an average weightlifter, I am one of the better powerlifters in the country.  In my age/weight class I am the best.  I played for the All Blues when they went to the Nationals.  We didn’t win it all but I played on the second best rugby club in the country.  Not average.  As a Title Officer I never got to put “Underwriter” on my business card, but I underwrote with higher caps than most people will in their entire career.  I did billion dollar transactions, with a phone call.  Not average.  I sent two people to jail earlier in my career for fraud.  One was stealing from private lenders the other was stealing from old ladies.  Both incidents ended up on the 5 o’clock news.  Not average.  As a notary I stopped a major loss.  I was asked to go to the jail to sign off the seller.  I got there and it was a lady probably 50 years old sitting out there in Santa Rita.  I asked the question.  “What’s she in jail for?”  As it turned out, she was in jail for stealing the house she was trying to sell.  No one recorded anything to alert anyone.  Not your average notary.  And I defy you to find someone has blown up a decent title career better than I did. I get asked all the time if I’m a dog trainer.  I’m not.  I have never been trained, but I train my dogs.  Better than average.  Not quite ring quality, but far superior to everyone else.  You should see us walking down the street.  Both dogs are at heel, shoulder to shoulder not pulling and even these two goofballs will sit in unison.  (Xica and Beauregard were precision)

I don’t want an average or even a better than average real estate career.  I would figure it out eventually on my own, but in this economy I don’t have room or time for missteps.  I blow it and we’re living in a refrigerator box under the 680.  I’m going with a new system, I am the converted, and I hope it works.

While we were in Monterey, we spent most of our free time drinking wine.  Except the times we drank beer or in Sonofabun’s case, vodka.  We stopped by a little store called Wine from the Heart.  They did little tastings.  It was kind of wierd in that they poured wine out of the bottles, in to little tiny one ounce bottles or two ounce whatever it was and then served those to the customers.  Those had little bitty lids on them and it all seemed like a lot of labor for not much return to me.  When we arrived there were two ladies at the bar.  Two hammered real estate agents from Cupertino.  The young man behind the counter pulled down a Foley and suggested we try that.  Well, you can only imagine how that went.  I got to preach the gospel to these ladies.  Neither of them used Fidelity, they hated how Fidelity treated their staff.  Hallelujah!  One of gal’s Mom worked for Fidelity.  Preach it Sister Winedog!  Don’t like his business practices in the title industry?  Do your Mom a favor and don’t drink his plonk.  Can I get an amen?  She says “the company is making money but the employees haven’t gotten any of their paycuts back”.  Testify!  It was a good night.

To that end, Fidelity posted a first quarter profit amidst a bunch of leveraging, restructuring of debt and, oh yeah, lay offs and crushing pay cuts for everyone but the executive team.  There is your feel good story of the day.  They did some squirrelly restructuring thing with the tranches, but that stuff has always made my brain bleed.  Suffice it to say it gave them some wiggle room and reduction in debt service.  Naturally with all that executive decision making those boys are exhausted, so giving Foley himself a 170% raise while all of his staff sits there with up to 40% in salary reductions makes sense.  That’s right 170% pay raise for Foley himself.  For the love of God, listen to me, don’t drink his plonk.

Altvs
Clifford Bay
Curtis
Firestone Vineyard
Foley Estates
Kuleto
Lincourt Vineyards
Merus
Sebastiani
Three Rivers Winery
Vavasour
Wattle Creek

I guess my race is run

Miss me?  Yeah, I know.  I suck.  Actually, you have no idea how much I suck.

[youtube 16u0wwCfoJ4]

After the BMW blew up in Pittsburg and I got railroaded by the Authorities a few other choice events occurred, I got myself into a First Class nosedive.  I was in a flat spin heading out to sea.  I mean seriously, you can fight the Man for so long and then be Alfred E. Neuman for so long and then all of the sudden some SOB comes along and blows down your house of cards.  Well.  There you have it.  I did everything I could think of to shake off the funk but it would not go away.  I even considered going to work for someone.  And then it hit me, like a hot kiss at the end of a cold fist.  Actually, I slipped off a curb, rolled my ankle and ended up on my ass.  Yep.  Flat broke ass splat on the pavement.  As I picked myself up I was thankful that nothing seemed broken, because I can’t afford to go see a Dr.  If it was broke, it was going to stay broke.  I had no choice.  But then something strange happened.  It was like the universe was done screwing with me and once I picked myself up, it was all over with.  I was hurt, but out of my funk.  My right knee and my right elbow are pretty swollen, but they’re going to be alright.  And I’m back to my usual obnoxious self.  And I own those bitches dammit.  So, without further ado, a letter to Bill Foley.

Dear Bill you rat bastard Mr. Foley,

How dare you!  You have just cut staff again and you have just reduced their pay again.  All in service to your Wall Street gods.  Shame on you!  Right now most of the poor schmucks staff that work for you are making about the same as a clerk at Trader Joe’s, which isn’t even a union shop.   So they aren’t making dick.  Your marketing bullshit says that your staff “”takes pride in title and escrow services that meet customer demands for efficient and timely processing and quality products.”  No they don’t.  They’re fighting for their lives.  They can’t make their house payments, they can’t pay their bills and with the bump in insurance they can’t insure their families.  They are over worked and woefully underpaid.  Enough.  To quote one of your County Managers “He’s sitting up there overlooking his vineyards sipping on his wine while everybody down here is struggling”.  Yes Bill, I know you said “profits are at 1993 levels so pay will be at 1993 levels”.  OK, why don’t you call up the assholes at Exxon and have them drop the price of gas to 1993 levels.  And then when you’re done with that roll back my mortgage to 1993 levels.  I was paying $800 a month for housing in 1993, that ought to work for me today.  How about that dumbass?  And while we’re at it, let’s roll back your compensation to 1993 levels.  How do you like me now eh?  You disgust me Mr. Foley.   And that is why I boycott your wine and that is why I advocate the boycott of your wine to the wine community.  One day they’ll understand, but for now, you are a rank bastard who single handedly ruined an honorable profession.  Shame on you.

Just think what he’ll do to the wine business, another honorable profession that he’s got his slimy fingers in.  Boycott Foley Family Wines

With sword in hand I face demands, delivered with the best intentions

We all know that PBE is all about accountability.  I have no problem calling out whoever on their bullshit.  Today is a Mea Culpa.  I got called out on my bullshit.  And I was wrong.  I made a mistake.  I checked my facts as best I could at 5:30 in the morning, but sometimes I’m not at my best.  Lucky for y’all Gloria Schaefer was nearby with a newspaper to smack me on the nose.  I should have known better.  I knew I was sad to see Audelessa on the list of Foley wines, but I couldn’t remember why besides that I liked their juice.  The reason was that I know Gloria through several social media sites.  I should have just asked her but I spaced it out.  She didn’t.

Who is Gloria Schaefer you ask?  She’s one of the founders and owners of Audelssa.  Yeah, still.  It wasn’t sold to Foley Family Wines, they are independent.  That’s good news.  They have a distribution deal, which I knew about, but that’s it.  Foley has no ownership.  My mistake.  And I’m making it right, here and now.  I was wrong and I apologize to all the ownership and employees of Audelssa.

Harakiri-still

For all of you out there who think I am a disgruntled former employee, you’d be wrong.  I worked for him about 15 minutes back in 1982 or 1983.  He bought St. Paul Title in Santa Barbara.  He actually came into our offices after the acquisition, because he wasn’t that big back then.  He made his original money with Carl’s Jr. franchises.  That’s why I call him the Burgermeister.  He has treated every business since then as if they were flipping burgers.  I left Fidelity Title of Santa Barbara because I was moving back to Northern California.  I wasn’t asked to leave and I had no axe to grind back then.  I never worked for him again.  I did watch him raid our offices, steal our employees, offer them ridiculous salaries and then shitcan them 3 months later.  Their most recent MO has been to lure people in with big salaries, secure their book of business and can them.  I watched a lot of people I knew being sold a bill of goods.  I watched them build flashy new offices and then not do a single upgrade for 10 years.  I watched people not get a single raise for years after coming over for a big splashy salary.  I watched him change the title insurance industry not for the better over a 25 year period.  It is now a risk assumption business.  It used to be risk aversion.  It’s now risk assumption because they don’t do the job that the customer thinks they’re doing.  I watched him follow Parker Kennedy’s lead and off-shore our jobs.  I watched him raid Parker Kennedy’s First India Corp and offer his Bangalore employees larger salaries.  And I watched the see-saw move against both companies in India.  It is no longer as profitable as it once was to off-shore our jobs, but they still don’t have to pay taxes so they keep doing it.  I hope I get to watch Obama change that. And I’ve watched them deliver obscene earnings to Wall Street while laying off California workers.   I know over 50 years experience lost their jobs in the form of only two employees last week.  They canned someone who had been with the company for 26 years.  That is reprehensible.  They should have showed even to Wall Street and let that employee continue to make his mortgage and feed his family.  They will call him back at a deeply discounted rate with no benefits through a temp agency.  That’s what they do.  It’s a disgusting, slimy business practice and it’s wrong.

How these business practices will translate to the wine industry is anybody’s guess.  The two things that are most concerning to me is the total disregard for talent.  Title companies no longer have or respect the years of knowledge that goes into making a talented title officer or a gifted escrow officer.  Will the same thing translate to the winemakers?  The vineyard manager?  Will the Burgermeister decide that biodynamic sustainable practices are not cost effective?  Will that change the juice?  Will they source their grapes from another country?  Another region?  Will they bring in inferior grapes and put just enough Stag’s Leap juice in it to call it a Stag’s Leap appellation?  Who knows right now what he’ll think of to increase profit, but he will.  And he’ll do it on the backs of the employees while marketing something completely different to the customers.

My money says he’s gunning for Jess Jackson.  That’s his way.  He’s been trying to clip the Eagle for years.  No reason to think he’s not after Jess Jackson in the same manner.  The wine industry got a taste of that last week.  That was totally corked.  If these rich men aren’t already scrapping, it’s coming.

Here is the revised list:

Altvs
Clifford Bay
Curtis
Firestone Vineyard
Foley Estates
Kuleto
Lincourt Vineyards
Merus
Sebastiani
Three Rivers Winery
Vavasour
Wattle Creek

Dance in flames for the final quest

This week I watched the State of the Union address.  I haven’t seen one in several years because, well because Bush was a moron and I couldn’t listen to the guy.  I hope Obama can work his way through this economic shit sandwich that Bush & Co handed the country.  We all know one of the moments in California politics that sent me to the moon was during the Gubernatorial debate when Tom McClintock pointed to FNF and their exit to Florida because they didn’t want to pay California taxes.  I was enraged with McClintock and of course I hate Bill Foley and the Evil Empire.  I still secretly wish a hurricane would come and demolish only Bill Foley’s offices, nothing else in Jacksonville.  Come to find out, I’m not alone.

Last night while I was working my way through my email I found a slew of new reasons to hate Bill Foley and FNF and some comraderie at that.  Facebook for the most part is kind of a happy place.  You have to use your own name, no room for anonymous trolls and it just chugs along.  Unless you’re Bill Foley.  Then there is a dedicated group called “I dislike Bill Foley with a passion“.  Apparently, the folks of Whitefish, Montana don’t like what he’s doing out there.  Yep.  I told all you wine people he was Satan.  This is what the people who live in the same community as he does think of him.  I’m telling you, he is the Devil.  Boycott his damned wine!  And we’ll call it “the mountain” not whitefish mountain resort.  (didn’t capitalize it for y’all).  The New West did a long and telling article on him.   The comments section is equally telling.

foley

January 15th, the Evil Empire laid off 70 Californians, only to call many of them back as “temporary” workers with no benefits at a deeply discounted pay rate.  This is the Fidelity way.  They will report their Q4 earnings on February 3.  I promise, you will see a wicked EPS.  They are off-shoring more work and putting more Americans either out of work or in distress.  I’m rooting for Obama.  Tax that asshole and every other corporate winged monkey who has taken an American job and sent it overseas.  The problem ain’t illegals coming into our country taking our jobs, those guys don’t have even green cards.  The problem is assholes like Bill Foley laying off American workers in a recession from decent jobs so he can pull more money out of his company and buy more shit for himself and sending their jobs to freaking India.  That’s the problem.  Business didn’t used to run that way, but in the 80’s under, you guessed it, Reagan, the business schools started professing a different way of doing business.  It used to be that companies held back cash for the lean times because business is cyclical.  No more.  They pull everything out of the business that they possibly can and then balance the books on the backs of the employees.  They found ways to exploit every accounting rule on the books and now just send our jobs overseas so that the good old boys can give each other obscene bonuses and suck the American people dry.  If they were paying taxes on those off-shored operations they would come right back to our shores where they belong.  Period.

Knowing that, why are you drinking his wine?  Stop it.  Everyone.  The leopard will not change his spots.  We know he acquired Sebastiani not for the wine but for the distribution channels.  He doesn’t care about the industry.  As winos we have only one option, chase him out of the business.  How is that accomplished?  By doing business with someone else.  It looks like he as acquired Audelssa which makes me sad, (Audelssa was not acquired by Foley) but I was sad when he acquired Kuleto too.  It’s not like there aren’t hundreds of true family owned wineries making lovely juice out there.  So here’s the revised boycott list:

Altvs
Audelssa
Clifford Bay
Curtis
Firestone Vineyard
Foley Estates
Kuleto
Lincourt Vineyards
Merus
Sebastiani
Three Rivers Winery
Vavasour
Wattle Creek

The job you save, may be your own.

I’ve stared straight into the sun

File this under “That’s going to leave a mark” in the “Reasons why the Wine Dog is a Wise Dog” file.  The PR Newswire blares “Fidelity National Financial, Inc. Issues Statement Refuting Significant Inaccuracies and the Omission of Important Facts in New York Time Article“.   What New York Times article you say?  Click here for hanky panky and shenanigans.  Stuff like this is what’s wrong with business in America.  Just a reminder, of the 20-40% cuts in wages the employees of FNF received over the last three years, no one’s salary has been restored.  No one’s commission structure has been reinstated.  And Bill posted $.62 3rd Quarter EPS to Wall Street.  His corporate gods have been satisfied on the backs of his workers once again.  Winos, this man should not be allowed in the wine business.  You are laying down with the Devil and bad things are going to happen.  Mark my words.  Boycott Foley Family Wines.  Be careful, we’re not talking about Robert Foley Vineyards.   Robert Foley is truly family owned and he may very well be the God of Cabernet.  Personally I really like his Charbono too.  Enjoy Robert Foley wines all day long, boycott Foley Family Wines.

robert foley

It’s a damned fine Charbono.  I wrote about this last year, but we had this with NY strip steaks with a bit of roquefort on top and a red wine reduction.  It was a perfect pairing.

Back to business, I ran across this youtube which was part of the Leading@Google series.  The speaker is Bill George.  He spoke on October 22, 2008.  Before the Presidential election.  It’s an hour long but I high recommend getting a cuppa joe and listening to the whole thing.  And yes, FNF is hierarchtical.

[youtube J0mXxkLWobk]