If you have been keeping up with Legacy in a Glass for a while, you might be familiar with Moon Tree, our first ever branded wine. Moon Tree is the brainchild of Steve Pollack, Legacy’s National Sales Director and a titan of the wine and spirits industry. We recently chatted with Steve about the inspiration behind creating Moon Tree and his goals for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
“I’ve been in the wine industry for 32 years,” Steve says, “but it wasn’t until 2003 that I realized I wanted to create my own brand of wine. I was in California with my wife and we were visiting Robert Mondavi’s winery, and in the wine cellar they had a picture of Robert Mondavi Sr. In that moment, I knew I wanted to emulate what he had created and start my own brand.” Steve considers that trip to Napa Valley a turning point in his career and where the seed was truly planted.
Behind the Name
“About 5 years ago, I realized I had plateaued in my career and it was time for me to move on,” Steve reveals. “I started reaching out to the contacts I made in California and told them I was thinking of starting my own brand.” Still, the process of creating the wine wasn’t easy, and Steve encountered several obstacles along the way. Like many people with an idea, Steve started to second-guess himself and wondered if his dream would ever actually get off the ground. “I was sitting on my back porch in September of 2018, around 2:00 am,” Steve recalls. Mulling over his thoughts, Steve noticed how beautiful the moon looked that night. “The moon was peeking out behind this tree in my backyard, so I took out my phone and snapped a photo,” he says. “Throughout my career, I have always trusted my gut. That night, I got that same gut feeling. That’s where it all started.” Thus, the Moon Tree brand was born!
The Creative Process
In February 2019, Steve took a trip to California and spent 4 days with Clay Shannon and his team. They discussed Moon Tree and what Steve wanted Moon Tree to represent. Clay offered to send the picture to his label designer and within a week presented many different concepts and labels to choose from. Over the course of 2019, Steve and his team tasted the varieties for quality and worked together on quantities of each. In December of 2019, Moon Tree was born! “The most exciting part of the process was when we got a video from Clay showing the Moon Tree wines being labeled and bottled!” Steve says. When it came to pricing the wine, Steve knew he wanted Moon Tree to be accessible to consumers everywhere, aiming for a price point of $20 and under. “I realized that consumers want affordable wine that tastes good, with flavors they can recognize,” Steve shares. “I wanted to be able to say ‘this is me in a glass.’”
As for the flavors for Moon Tree, Steve took a hands-on approach to ensure the finished product matched his vision. “We went to Lake County, California and tasted through samples of wines that Clay had available and discussed the style I wanted to achieve,” Steve shares. “Joy Merrilees is as talented a winemaker as they come. She understood what I was looking for (fruit driven, balanced wines that over-deliver for the retail). After tasting through what was available we chose the 6 varieties,” Steve says. “The first wine I wanted for Moon Tree was a Sauvignon Blanc. Lake County provides hot days and cool nights which provides stunning crisp acidity and ripe citrus and passion fruit flavors. The grapes ripen in the daytime when it’s 80-90 degrees, then maintains acidity at night in 50-60 degree weather.” Steve knew he wanted a clean, refreshing taste, “a passion fruit, peach kind of style,” he says. With Moon Tree’s Bourbon Barrel Cabernet, the finished wine is put into bourbon barrels purchased from whiskey distilleries for a number of days. “This adds a caramel cinnamon kind of note to the cabernet and when done right, offers an extraordinary wine,” says Steve. If it’s left too long in these barrels, as many are, it provides a boozy, overdone style. I wanted a less boozy, creamy wine with a nice mouth feel.”
The Moon Tree Difference
One of the things that makes Moon Tree stand out from other wines is the brand’s direct-to-consumer approach. “There are a lot of bad wines out there from wine clubs,” Steve says. “I’ve dumped out wine that I’ve taken my chances with online. With Moon Tree, you can order it and get it delivered right to your house, and it is what it’s supposed to be.” There are currently 6 different wines available in the Moon Tree line, from chardonnay to red blend. To learn more about Moon Tree and to sign up to be notified when it’s available, visit https://legacyinaglass.com/moon-tree/.