Our farming industry is ripe with family-based businesses. Insights and ideas that have been passed down through the vines linking one generation to the next become the new innovations of our industry for the future.
As our businesses age and mature, and as our next generation of family members begins to do the same, it is a fine time to re-evaluate our present, revisit our past and recommit to the future.
As I write this article, I am fresh from a wonderful tour of a local winery in Carroll County, Maryland.
Owned by the Baker family, their method of farming and harvesting is “powered by sweat, not oil” and our “fingerprints are on every vine, every grape and every bottle” we painstakingly produce. It is indeed a labor of love. I have been blessed to meet many growers, farmers, nursery and garden center owners that have the same balanced philosophy of farming and family. You are each an inspiration.
Drew Baker, along with his sisters Lisa and Ashli, have created a distinctive experience that separates them from the other wineries in the Mid-Atlantic region. They truly get the value proposition of “tell a great story…and then let the guest experience the entire process of a great wine”.
(It’s not just the taste of the wine…it’s the flavor of the entire winery)
“The customer will seek you out if you have a great story to share”.
And seek them out they do!!
0ld Westminster Winery is located on an 18-acre farm tucked away in the hills of very rural Carroll County, yet they have visitors travel for miles to find them, experience them, and then take them home.They won the 2014 Maryland Governors Award for wine and continue to make a notable name for themselves in the growing market of local vineyards. They could do it cheaper. They could do it faster. They could do it with quality in the back seat. But they choose not to, because their beliefs are there’s a niche market of folks that are like-minded and will seek them out.
Quality farming, quality family, quality faith, makes quality fermenting…one barrel at a time.
With faith as a compass, passion as the engine, parents (Jay and Ginger) as a foundation, and great wine as an end product, the alignment that you would want for any business in the green and agriculture business to thrive and survive is in place. However, it certainly has its challenges. But as I learned on my tour today, you actually want the vine to be “stressed” in order to produce a more vibrant and eccentric flavor.
And that “stress” is what makes OWW such a success. —They welcome the stress!!
The winery wants the vine to “work” for its survival…not just sit around and wait for nature to do its thing (I like this metaphor).I am sure we all can agree that there’s been no shortage of stress over the last many months and we could all use some decompression and healthy deep breathing.
Whether it was the tough economic drought of years past years, a wonderful and long recovery or the present global pandemic, we have experienced both famine and feast climates, which have “stressed our vines to the breaking point”.
“We surround ourselves with successful folks in our business that share the same values as our winery”.
That small sample of fertile ideas can grow to large varieties of distinctive, unique and soughtafter wines that the new generation of spenders will definitely seek and find.
“We will become that winery of choice for the wine spectator who seeks something unique and authentic…with a story…that they can become part of”.
The willingness to do it right, which may actually cost more on the front end, is another key to the family’s cultivating success story. In addition, the willingness for the family members to wear different hats, to be equals on the team, and to support whatever is necessary to create that greatest experience for the wine enthusiast.
That is what makes this family... extraordinary