Exploring VA Wines – November 2013
The seasons are changing once again. The grapevine leaves are falling along with the other leaves in the area. I am looking forward to taking advantage of some down time, but it seems rather elusive. Just as the last of the red grapes get pressed, I am preparing our label order for a December bottling run. As soon as the tasting room staff gets decorated with pumpkins and fall colors, it is time to order the holiday items that will be sold in the room. Does this perpetual motion machine have an off switch?
I do think it is critical to pause and reflect on what has worked well this year and what can use some improvement. I continue to hear positive feedback about our winery and the others across Virginia. We all put a lot of energy into training our teams, caring for our vines and babying the wines into the bottle. It is great to receive recognition for the quality from so many people.
I do recognize the fact that there are probably some folks that have issues when they realize that the little gem of a winery that they discovered a few years ago is not so little anymore. That challenge is one that is faced by many successful businesses. How can you grow a business to a sustainable size and not lose the small, cozy feeling? Some wineries have well-constructed business plans while others (like ours) grows and changes with the grapes available and the demand from the customer. My challenge is trying to understand how to slow (or stop) the growth in order to plan better and be sustainable. I also do not want our customers experience or the wine quality to be a victim of our rapid growth. Recognizing this challenge is important but doing something about it is important as well.
When I talk with landowners who are interested in planting grapes, I tell them to plant 30 vines or 3000. There is little room for success in between. The wineries do not seem to have as big a gap between hobby and business but maybe I have just been lucky to bridge the gap well. Where is the topping out point for our winery? Or where is it for the state for that matter? We all need more grapes in the ground to fill the demand from this past year, let alone the next 10. That is my biggest push for 2014 and for the next few years. I feel like my own worst enemy in how I continue to see opportunities to grow. My wife keeps saying ok, the bills are eventually paid and I get to keep growing with a fabulous industry. What could be wrong with that? I guess a little time to rest would be nice.
~ Written by: Doug Fabbioli