Shelton Vineyards was founded in 1999 by Charlie and Ed Shelton, two brothers looking to create a staple within the modern wine industry. As one of the first wineries in North Carolina, the vineyard has made a name for itself in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley. Over the years, Shelton Vineyards has expanded to match the ever-growing needs of the market — the property features a tasting room, as well as a restaurant and hotel. Shelton Vineyards’ wine is available throughout North Carolina and parts of Virginia and South Carolina in Harris Teeter, Publix, Lowes Foods, and Food Lion.
Managing the inventory and production of any beverage business can be incredibly difficult, but even more so for wineries due to the length of time it takes from the beginning of production to the sale of the bottle. To track inventory, production, day-to-day lab analysis, harvest data, and other aspects of the wine production process, the Shelton Vineyards team relied heavily on manual spreadsheets and outdated software. This made it time consuming to connect the cost to inventory and the team needed a solution that would seamlessly tie everything together to take their business to the next level.
Shelton has streamlined its inventory management, costing, and chemistry tracking features using Ekos. Instead of relying on spreadsheets requiring manual updates or several tools to track everything separately, each member of the team has visibility into what’s going on at any given time — even while on the go with phone access.
Another way Ekos has helped to improve visibility is through its ability to manage purchase orders and inventory receipts. Whenever the team makes a purchase and adds it to the system, all the necessary parties are notified via an email notification rather than relying on a paper order that was previously passed around from department to department.
Real-time purchase order and inventory receipt data in Ekos helps winemaker Ethan Brown do his job better. Because inventory is depleted with purchase orders and inventory receipts, Ethan is able to develop up-to-date, accurate insights into his packaging needs for the next year. Plus, this automatically depleted inventory helps Ethan maintain accuracy for TTB reporting. While reconciling numbers between Ekos and the winery’s former software solution, Winemaker’s Database, he noticed that reporting in Ekos was correct, but that wasn’t the case in WMDB. Ethan purchased brandy for fortifying ports that wasn’t reflected in the WMDB numbers, causing the TTB report to be incorrect. “When I’m dealing with fortifying spirits, I’ve got to make sure that’s correct,” he said.
Using Ekos, Shelton Vineyards has been able to control its inventory at the most granular level, helping the team take a more strategic approach to determine the cost per bottle. “I’m glad we jumped in when we did, that way I got a good handle on it,” Ethan said. “We’re already starting to accumulate data for costs over time and we’re going to continue to look at that.”
Costing is greatly simplified for the Shelton team. Instead of laborious calculations and time spent looking for accurate numbers, Ekos keeps all of the winery’s additives and packaging costs in one place. Ethan simply mouses over the lot he’s looking to price out and clicks on the batch cost. Not only does this save the team time day-to-day, but it also helps them stay nimble for new projects. Recently, Ethan and a colleague needed to price out a new wine. Ekos’s costing capabilities gave the team the ability to confirm that the price they were shooting for was right on target.
Forget the Notebooks
The winery also benefits from consolidating its chemistry notes in Ekos. Before, Ethan tracked chemistry data in spreadsheets and notebooks that were hard to access and keep updated. With Ekos, Ethan has access to chemistry data at every point in the winemaking process. After selecting a tank in his facility view, he has all historical chemistry data for a particular batch at his fingertips, allowing him to work more efficiently on the production floor.
Shelton is looking forward to lots of new projects this year, like increasing its sparkling wine production, expanding distribution with a new full-time sales rep, exploring new packaging options like cans, and so much more. Ethan says diversifying your lineup — from the types of wine to the way you package it — is key to keeping customers happy and fulfilled.