365WineTrade Technology Talks Episode 6: Saving Time to Make More Wine with House of Smith

September 21, 2023 Tony Castellano

365WineTrade Tech Talks Episode 6: Saving Time to Make More Wine with House of Smith

On our sixth episode of 365WineTrade Tech Talks, we were fortunate to be joined by Lisa Kaplan, Director of Finance for the renowned Washington State-based House of Smith winery. Lisa shed some light on the background and vision of House of Smith—in addition to the results of an important technology shift for the company. But first, our co-hose Jackie O’Brien kicked things off with our segment Through the Grapevine.

Listen to podcast episode 6

“Canned cocktails are set to dominate the 2022 summer scene,” said Jackie. And indeed, her own favorite is a canned mojito! From brands like Bacardi and Cutwater, canned cocktails have been rising in popularity over the last several years, but this year will be like no other. Jackie said that the ready-to-drink cocktails beverage category grew 53 percent last year and is predicted to grow 30 percent over the next three. How will the wine industry react? It’s anyone’s guess.

Speaking of growth, Jackie and I chatted about how the Napa, CA county crop value has jumped over 60 percent in 2021 as businesses rebounded from wildfires of years past. It’s great to see the west coast wineries in such stride.

Welcome House of Smith

When Lisa joined the conversation, she gave a few fun details about the growth of the House of Smith brand—including that the owner and winemaker Charles Smith used to be a manager of rock bands in Denmark. As a lifelong lover of wine, Charles started making his own in 1999. He started with a Syrah and sold it out of his Astro van driving around the state of Washington. Fast forward, he launched House Wine and subsequently Charles Smith wines in 2016.

One of Charles’ claims to fame is the fact that he is the owner of the largest pinot noir plantings in the state of Washington. As a lover of Pinot Noir, Charles realized no one was growing the grapes—and why not? He is now on his third vintage of Pinot Noir. “Charles believes that great wine should be available to everyone to drink,” said Lisa.

Ripping Off the Band Aid

Lisa also shared that as Director of Finance at House of Smith, she’s been in the unique position of seeing the company through a technology transition that has saved them massive time and improved efficiencies. When she took charge of finance, the department was using legacy systems such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that was not up to snuff in addition to spreadsheets. By moving the department to 365WineTrade—Western Computer’s cloud software for the wine and spirits industry—she has been able to integrate many moving parts in accounting and finance to the platform.

Now, Lisa’s department enjoys a single source of truth for data and team members have stopped duplicating efforts. She herself saves at least two hours a week on reporting, and the accounting team saves at least quadruple that.

As always, I’d love to get your feedback on the podcast and any topics you’d like to hear us discuss in upcoming episodes. Contact us to share your thoughts, and keep tuning in for the latest in wine technology and trends. You can listen to all our podcasts on Spotify or on your favorite podcast platform.

About the Author

Tony Castellano

As Western Computer's VP of Sales, Tony oversees sales and business processes to ensure that the company's large customer base is supported.

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