Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Can You Turn a Hobby into a Jobby?

By Doug Fabbioli

I came up with a silly term the other day that seems relevant to the workplace and particularly our industry. A “Jobby” would be a hobby that eventually turns into a paying gig. Musicians have done this for years and actors as well. They have a day job that pays the bills and keeps food on the table but then they moonlight doing musical or acting jobs at night and on the weekends. This keeps their passion and creative juices flowing. It makes the day job bearable and keeps their foot in the door of their passion. I was fortunate enough to start my Jobby when I graduated from college and didn’t have any grand financial commitments. I also had a partner, now my wife, that made a decent living that balanced out my efforts to chase my dream. Some people are able to find their passion early enough that their job is their hobby from the start, eliminating a mid-life changeover.


In this region we have many people who commit early on to their day job with the plan of retiring early. This opens up the opportunity to start a new career at a relatively young age. Some folks open a winery, some plant a vineyard, some open a little shop and some others may dive into the restaurant business.


With the right energy, capital, business plan and learning attitude, it is possible to succeed. Some make the choice to work in their chosen field and get a paycheck without committing to opening their own business. My advantage was that I worked in the wine industry for many years before I committed my finances and future into our family venture. I regularly suggest this move to folks that are thinking about joining our industry. I always suggest making mistakes on other people’s dime so you did not make them when you are paying the bills. Working at a winery doing the day to day tasks will give you a much better perspective on the industry than sitting on the comfortable side of the bar watching us work. Maybe as I have created so many jobs in our business, I have a different perspective on what a job is and how it makes money for the one writing the paycheck.


If you find yourself in the position of being able to choose a path in a different career, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What is the thing that I like to do the most or gives me the best feeling when I do it?
  2. What creature comforts do I need or can I sacrifice in order to do my new “Jobby”?
  3. Will this change effect other commitments I have to family, friends or other employers?


As our business grew and my role has evolved, I certainly have gotten away from some of the things I love best. I and my family have made sacrifices of time, money and focus in order to build this business to a point of sustainability. I would make a few changes in hind sight, but I would certainly take this leap again if given the chance. The years ahead will hopefully be of calmer waters. Me as the salty captain, hope to enjoy the coming years as a calmer and more thoughtful leader. I guess that is the evolution of my Jobby. What about yours?


Doug is the proprietor and winemaker at Fabbioli Cellars in Loudoun County and has been penning this column for several years. He has been instrumental in the success of many of the Commonwealth’s vineyards and wineries.

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