Longfellow and Catawba Wine

From time to time we like to divert from our usual blogs about small business accounting and daily money management to dig up a few nuggets about our hometown — Cincinnati. This is one of those times.

Longfellows is an the Over-the-Rhine bar that recently opened a new space for private events they call the Other Room. The original Longfellows bar is named after the poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882) who has a certain connection to the Queen City. 

Longfellow loved mythology and legend, both of which Cincinnati has in abundance. We are named after Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a Roman farmer and statesman known for his great civic virtue; we are also a legendary wine producing region of the world. 

catawba grapevine
Catawba Grapevine image courtesy of Double A Vineyards.

Nicholas Longworth was a wine grower in the Ohio River Valley outside of Cincinnati in the early 1800s. His prize wine was made from the native Catawba grape, and would become one of the greatest wines in the world.

This was the wine of poet Longfellow’s classic poem “Catawba Wine” — a tribute to the grape and the city that produced it, written on the receipt of a gift of Catawba wine from the Nicholas Longworth vineyards on the Ohio River.

CATAWBA WINE*

This song of mine
Is a Song of the Vine,
To be sung by the glowing embers
Of wayside inns,
When the rain begins
To darken the drear Novembers.

It is not a song
Of the Scuppernong,
From warm Carolinian valleys,
Nor the Isabel
And the Muscadel
That bask in our garden alleys. 

Nor the red Mustang,
Whose clusters hang
O’er the waves of the Colorado,
And the fiery flood
Of whose purple blood
Has a dash of Spanish bravado. 

For richest and best
Is the wine of the West,
That grows by the Beautiful River;
Whose sweet perfume
Fills all the room
With a benison on the giver. 

And as hollow trees
Are the haunts of bees,
Forever going and coming;
So this crystal hive
Is all alive
With a swarming and buzzing and humming.

Very good in its way
Is the Verzenay,
Or the Sillery soft and creamy;
But Catawba wine
Has a taste more divine,
More dulcet, delicious, and dreamy.

There grows no vine
By the haunted Rhine,
By Danube or Guadalquivir,
Nor on island or cape,
That bears such a grape
As grows by the Beautiful River.

Drugged is their juice
For foreign use,
When shipped o’er the reeling Atlantic,
To rack our brains
With the fever pains,
That have driven the Old World frantic.

To the sewers and sinks
With all such drinks,
And after them tumble the mixer;
For a poison malign
Is such Borgia wine,
Or at best but a Devil’s Elixir. 

While pure as a spring
Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it, one needs but name it;
For Catawba wine
Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it. 

And this Song of the Vine,
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River.

*Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth “Catawba Wine” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [online resource], Maine Historical Society, Accessed 23 March 2019.


Living Within Your Means

An editorial by P. J. O’Rourke, the editor of American Consequences, touched on a subject that had us thinking twice about the booming American economy and individual responsibility. He writes about the government shutdown and its effect on a married couple that happen to be senior managers in different departments of the U.S. government. He estimates their salaries to be $200,000 to $300,000 annually, putting them in the top 5% of American earners. Yet, during the shutdown, they were interviewed while standing in line for free food at a pop-up market run by the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, DC. 

It’s shocking to realize that a recent study of 25,000 American adults shows that 6 out of 10 working adults are living paycheck-to-paycheck or, even worse, are accruing debt and saving nothing for emergencies.

Those that do save for the unexpected, the study shows, think that $2,000 is the right amount for a 3-month emergency fund. 

Earning more doesn’t seem to matter either. As incomes rise, the pattern of spending the entire paycheck every month continues!

After some research, we were able to list 7 warning signs that you’re living beyond your means:

  1. Carry credit card debt
  2. Do not contribute at least 5% to a savings account
  3. Have less than 3 month’s pay in an emergency fund
  4. Have no emergency fund at all
  5. Lease a car you can’t afford to buy or finance
  6. Have paid overdraft fees
  7. Don’t budget

If the government shutdown did any good at all (and we don’t mean politically), it may have us thinking about how to live within our means so we never have to take a handout meant for the truly poor, unlike the government employees in O’Rourke’s story. We can all live within our means and still enjoy life — it just may take a little imagination and willpower.

Avoiding Downturns

October leaves rippleThe recent stock market gyrations in October dampened more than a few investors’ enthusiasm for a never-ending bull market. October has a reputation for being a scary month for investors. Black Tuesday was in October 1929 and Black Monday of 1987 was also in October. These memories often override the facts though. According to Bloomberg, October’s Dow was positive in 15 out of the last 20 years. But there are lessons in all of this madness for small business owners for never having an “October surprise”.

  1. Never take your customers or clients for granted. Stay in touch, even when things are going smoothly. Demonstrate how important they are to you so when they have a problem they turn to you, and not to your competitors.
  2. Never assume that you know how your customers are doing. Make a phone call and ask whether they have any concerns or headwinds and, if so, what you can do to make things better.
  3. Never put all your eggs in one basket. If your livelihood depends on income from one or two really large customers or clients, make an extra effort to seek out new business on a steady basis.
  4. Never assume that just because your business is doing well that it always will.

As a trusted financial support team, we are always on the lookout for unusual fluctuations and trends for our customers and communicate what we see so that clients can choose to respond. And we don’t just do this in October, but throughout the calendar year.