Stoney Goose Ridge releases “the Ponzi”

It’s been a long time to introduce new drinks from Stoney Goose Ridge. Blame it on Covid, blame it on China, blame it on the boogie, but such is life. The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest. So it goes.

There are many affluent people engaged in the wine industry; most were wealthier before they started producing. Doctors, lawyers, merchant bankers, mass-entertainment headliners and start-up moguls purchased hobby farms or existing wineries, with little insight into the time, money and traumas involved in the tasks of growing, making and selling wine. Truly, many a slip twixt the sap and the lip.

There are also vinous trophy hunters with gargantuan collections of unicorn, rare and expensive wines (DRC, le Pin, Petrus, Leroy, Jayer, Egon Muller and Prum auction TBA’s and eisweins, Clos du Mesnil, Salon, et al) – in magnum or bigger – paraded before their acolytes, cronies and near-peers). Typically, these collectors are united by their inarticulate poverty of wine appreciation, and venerate wines that are obviously decrepit relics, or with faults that render the wine unpalatable. The label, and the arcane archaeology of the provenance outweigh the calibre of the contents. Sometimes these wines appear at auction, often caused by the “3Ds” (Disease, Divorce, Death), with startlingly stratospheric reserve prices – or egotistically donated to “Charity auctions” for bragging rights. It’s likely some of the treasures are “Rudi” wines.

Most wine production costs are incurred upfront; land purchase, trellising, rootling supply, water, pesticides, picking, making, storage, bottling and packaging, and the funds necessary to make this investment. There are many decisions along the way, plus the curious interventions of weather, legislative intrusions, and personal difficulties. It’s only the end-product that makes the journey worthwhile, and even then, it needs to be sold. Fortunately, there are select people with portions of my munificent talent, and occasionally some of our competitors’ wines can even approach the excellent pedigree of entry-level Stoney Goose Ridge throughput.

But we are here to celebrate the way many business people through the ages have nurtured their fortunes, in the true spirit of financial entrepreneurship. How often in business life are there situations where there is growth in sales, assets, profits, and yet there are transient cash flow issues? One way forward is by soliciting loans and reinvesting in the progress and advancement of the company. Many resort to loan sharks or bridging finance at injuriously punitive interest rates.

Sometimes financial stresses are caused by corrupt employees, siphoning – for years- with bogus invoices supporting extravagant lifestyles with impulses attributed to gambling or substance addictions, luxury vehicles, designer apparel, lavish travel, and extravagant entertainment. Sometimes instances are publicised, but frequently the offenders remain undetected, or are shuffled out quietly to protect the company from embarrassing revelations about their systemic forensic inadequacies. It’s seldom “headless body in topless bar”; more usual is “no one hurt in small earthquake”.

There’s a fine line between a hot tip and insider trading. Enforcement is difficult, as evidence is ambiguous, typically transient. and well disguised.  Courts are baffled by fogs of competing timelines, spreadsheets and byzantine scenarios even when the stench of overt corruption is nauseating. That’s unless the suspects disappear overseas – ideally to countries without extradition treaties – in to live in luxury (thanks to “kind-hearted benefactors”) despite having no assets. It’s a slippery slope that lets the genie out of the bottle, with no turning back.

I am awed by judicial views that BNPL schemes for FMCG do not have credit implications, that UBER, and assorted food delivery drivers are not employees, and that “casual” workers can have fixed rosters for years.  Like all rulings, there is seemingly no limit to appeals and reversals – subject to litigant willingness to contribute funds to participate in the lottery, where roughly one-third of decisions are reversed at each successive level (“the facts of the case are intelligible to the least-instructed layman, and the only persons utterly at sea are those connected with the law” AP Herbert).

Similarly, defamation laws apparently exist solely to line the pockets of thin-skinned politicians – adept in rolling out the pork barrel until the music stops – and celebrities.  Truth is often not a valid defence. Come on dollar, come on! Little action has been taken to quash “phoenix” businesses that leave a trail of debts, and then fold. Mysteriously, the directors establish a very similar business, often at the same premises with assets transferred. In larger corporate failures, liquidators indulge in a feeding frenzy on the carcass to consume residual assets, leaving little for creditors.

The true vinous innovators are not the viticulturalists, winemakers, or the chemists. Yes, we are grateful for glass bottles, seals, vats, presses, and harvesting tools. But the most important artisans are clearly those with finance calculations firmly in their headlights.

Often when travelling, a crowd is gathered around someone with a ball in three cups, or three cards. The itinerant swindlers and their accompanying stooges make their living cheating the innocent. Or do they? The learned Fields stated “It’s the old army game, you can’t cheat an honest man, don’t give a chump a chance, never give a sucker an even break”.  If something is too good to be true, you are asking for trouble – unless you bale out in time.

The wonderfully inventive Ponzi (pyramid schemes) consume the payments of later investors to reimburse earlier contributors. Mathematically, it doesn’t work in the long run. Those at the top of the tree skim as much as feasible along the way.  The typical cross-web of related party transactions, and lavish sponsorship of sporting clubs seems innate. Whistle-blowers (aka “disgruntled employees”) are ostracised, and lambasted. Years later, after the companies are shredded, court cases are launched to retrieve damages from entities with no assets, with little penalty for the perpetrators due to their previously distinguished unblemished career, contributions to the community, advanced age, ill-health, the stress of delays of proceedings, sincere remorse etc.

Stoney Goose Ridge has no tolerance for any of these shameful activities. Renowned for our hyper-aggressive tax strategies, stringent HR policies, ironclad contracts and phenomenal litigation initiatives, our prime mission is to increase the well-being of the fanatical imbibers of our assorted alcoholic beverages. Our encouragement of the whistle-blowers of our competitors and obsessive follow-up through regulators is a tribute to our moral and ethical diligence.

I, Hector Achilles Lannible, am thusly proud to launch The Ponzi, a wine destined to ascend the podium to the pantheon of Stoney Goose Ridge brands. Development of its framework has been guided by overarching positioning, assisted by insights of our community engagement program.

The Ponzi is made from carefully blended Italianate varietals, including portions of Aglianico, Barbera, Corvina, Dolcetto, Montepulciano, Nebbiolo, Nerello Mascalese, Nero, Sangiovese, plus Teroldego grown in a multiplicity of regions. Blending was undertaken and as always, my masterly personal attention resulted in a wine that left the team astonished at my unrelenting nano-detailed prowess.

Expect a typical cavalcade of monumental flavour; authentic savoury terroir-derived attributes, showcasing black Doris plum and Bickford lime cordial, an iron fist in a velvet glove, finishing with a peacock’s tail – suitable for most repasts whether casual or celebratory. Approachable now but with the capability to mature for decades.

The front label image of The Ponzi is licenced from Joseph Banksy, a true artist who has overcome personal adversity with addictions, mental frailties, and other struggles that I will reluctantly not mention due to my concern for his personal privacy in Byron Bay.

Hurry to your concierge to reserve your exclusive tranche of liquid assets, as stocks are strictly limited. There is a certificate of authenticity for every case of individually numbered bottles, magnums, jeroboams, and larger formats. Each verification carries the personal signature of Stoney Goose Ridge CEO Hector Lannible.

The Ponzi RRP $AUS44, $NZ40 $US30, €25, £25