Exploring VA Wines – Spring 2015
Spring is finally here and I find myself thinking about some bigger issues. As we have built our business over the last ten years, I have worked hard to identify and take advantage of good opportunities. Closely managing vineyards and orchards, hiring people who demonstrate a great work ethic, and producing authentic, marketable and high quality products are all crucial in helping turn a good opportunity into a success. We want to grow good crops sustainably, we want our staff to feel appreciated and we want our products to consistently demonstrate high quality. I have also worked hard to avoid exploiting any situation or opportunity. I recognize that the words “take advantage of” and “exploit” can sometimes be interchangeable, but the difference in nuances can mean the difference between good business and bad ethics. This is the difference between, say, recognizing a great entrepreneurial opportunity in knowing that outdoor concert goers will get thirsty, and charging $10 for a bottle of water at the event.
Businesses are not the only ones to exploit opportunities; consumers can, as well. For example, in the past we have had winery visitors bring large groups of people, who bring their coolers, dogs, kids and even tents and other camping gear in tow. They would camp out for hours in our picnic area and purchase one or two bottles of wine. That would be taking advantage of the opportunity but it would also be exploiting it for all it is worth. (For the record, we and many other wineries no longer allow our facilities to be treated like public parks.)
We need businesses to identify and take advantage of an unfulfilled need and find the way to fill it. The business deserves a profit for providing solutions and filling those needs. As the business matures, the cost to produce that product should stabilize in a way that it is sustainable to the land, the labor, the profit and the customer as well. As an example, the local wine and libations industry has been able to take advantage of a local customer base that has a little more money in their pocket than other parts of the country. We can charge a little more per bottle than other parts of the country. However, we will use this advantage to build our customer base, business infrastructure and quality control processes. This makes this industry viable and sustainable for years to come. But it is not good practice to charge high prices just because people want the product now. The market will shift, the exploitation will be recognized and the product will fall out of favor.
So we have learned to take advantage of good market, good weather, good collaboration and great land. Our lesson is to not exploit the advantage to where others are hurt, the practices are unsustainable or the customer may lose faith in the business. Recognizing how to take advantage but not exploit is key to good business, politics, family and the rest of life.
Written by: Doug Fabbioli