Zero to One

By Doug Fabbioli

Zero to One


The scariest step is always the first! This concept is consistent through business, relationships and life. The learning curve for the first time of doing something is always the steepest. Kissing a girl, getting behind the wheel of a car or making a batch of wine can all be intimidating the first time. It’s amazing how having an understanding coach, and doing a little homework ahead of time on what you might expect can help ease some of that anxiety.

As a grape grower, I remember very well the first time that I surveyed and planted my first vineyard. Even though I had been growing the grapes at another vineyard for a number of years, I had never started from scratch before. In this instance, it was my own vineyard that I was putting in the ground. I have worked vineyards before where the rows are curved. That is not an engineered plan and can be a major issue down the road. You also have the health of the vines, the team coming in to help do the job, the weather, the soil conditions and a variety of other factors that can go wrong that you don’t even know about, considering it’s your first time.

Once you have been down the road a few times on a few different projects, the confidence begins to build. Currently, my Zero to One effort is to try some alternative packaging for our wines. Years ago, premium wineries were concerned about the world wide cork shortage and the high prices for quality wine corks because of it. Over time, the suppliers came up with plastic corks, screw caps and the such to offer an alternative to a natural cork for a closure. The biggest concern for wineries was if the consumers would think our products were of lower quality and not buy as they did. Well, I think we have grown past those issues and concerns. The latest effort that we are trying is wine in bags and kegs.

We have always pushed ourselves to be earth friendly and recycled as much as possible of our waste materials generated on the farm. Packaging is a major waste issue and currently, the recycling system is not working as well as it was before. For some of our larger use customers, buying wines in a different vessel may prove more cost effective and less wasteful. The biggest market is hopefully the restaurants. Selling wine by the glass is important for both the restaurant and the winery. The customer can have a glass without committing to a bottle and the winery can gain a customer. The challenge for the restaurant is that a partial bottle of wine will not stay fresh for more than a couple of days. By having a vessel that will not allow oxygen to contact the wine, the wine will stay fresh for months. So we will see if this step is something that will help our customers and our business. Zero to One is our step on this effort but going from one to three will certainly be easier if we need to.

Publishers Notes: In the meantime, pick up a couple bottles of your favorite Virginia Vintages and enjoy them during the holidays. Many wineries are decked to the nines during the holidays so you might want to schedule a day in wine country this month.

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