By Doug Fabbioli
The Joys of Owning a Winery!
No, we are not on the market! But, there are always a few wineries openly on the market and the underlying story is that every winery is on the market for the right price. There is no question that growing grapes, making wine and selling that wine to customers has its challenges. Those challenges have been the subject matter of this column many times over the years. This month I want to focus on the great stuff today as an end of the year acknowledgement of why we do what we do.
I love to work outside and dance with Mother Nature. Getting the best from her through our grapes, seeing the awesome power of storms, wind, sun and water is pretty cool. We have basically filled all of our plantable acreage here on the farm. Grapes, hops, pears, berries and asparagus are the crops that we focus on here. We have 5 other farms that we grow crops on as well. There is always more land to plant even if you don’t own it. There are more crops to try that will create a new product or market for your business. Hops, cider apples, specialty grains and strawberries are some of the things we have dabbled in or talked about over the last few years.
I get to make stuff as well! Turning the fruits that we grow into a product for others to buy and enjoy is quite satisfying. Sometimes those products are a product of what I see that is possible. Most times, the fruit available inspires me to create a product that will show style, balance, creativity and a flavor that people can’t wait to try and take home. We even get to enter these wines or products into competitions where they are judged and praised according to the standards of the competition along with other wines. I also get to drive tractors, forklifts, trucks and mowers to keep my inner child playing in the sandbox satisfied. Some of the stuff we make is not for sale. We built our tasting room building and many of the fixtures inside of it. This work can be cost effective, satisfying and very useful if you have the skills and vision.
On a social level, we have met some fabulous customers over the years. Some are local, some are visitors and some we travel to see and present our wines to them. The restaurateurs and wine shop folks are another element of great people, each with a story, a vision and goal that they hope to achieve. We also have some very dynamic characters that own wineries or other businesses in our neighborhood. By collaborating with others, we get to learn more about each other, build trust by helping each other, and build stronger businesses together. There are many other farmers, artists and business people in the area that we have worked with over the years. They may not directly buy or sell our product, but through sharing labor, customers, equipment and vision, we keep growing the culture of the rural lifestyle and an agriculturally based economy. Also I have met and worked with numerous government representatives, from the ground level all the way up to the Governor, who value our industry and recognize the positive impact that we have on our community and regions. Working with the government has been a very effective way to achieve many goals as well address concerns before they become problems. No industry grows without making an impact on others. It’s important that we all listen, but keep focused on the greater good rather than the squeaky minority focused on self-interests.
The best thing that I get to do is share my knowledge and passion for what I do with interested folks. Today it was a group of school aged kids coming out to learn about farming and winemaking. We have so much information to share, and many kids are never told about other job opportunities available in their region. I had a great time answering questions, explaining some of the things we do and how our farming is done successfully by thinking of the long term investment into those vines. I also explained that each of those vines are like kids – we train, nurture and invest in them, hoping that they will be fruitful in the future. So if you are thinking of changing careers, let’s have a chat about what being a farmer or winemaker is all about. Nothing is easy, but the rewards are there if you stop and look.