The Face of Success

chain reaction vineyard watercolor effect

I know many people think the face of success in the wine industry is that great black tie event – hair perfectly groomed, perfectly fitted tux or ballroom gown. Like Johnny and Moira Rose before they ended up in Schitt’s Creek. I get it. We’ve been conditioned to think wine is a hoity toity product produced and sold by the elite. The truth is, it ain’t that.  Mostly.  Okay, maybe one day once every year or two there may be a cool shindig or awards night, but these evenings are the exception and not the rule. And certainly not during COVID.  And somehow it doesn’t seem right to not wear Blundstones.  

The face of success is sunburned from long days in the vineyard tending to our most important asset – our vines. The growing season is short and intense. They aren’t going to work around our schedules.

The face of success is one with a flat nose. You hit a wall head on, pivot left then hit another wall.  Pivot right, move forward a few steps and hit yet another wall.  If you really want to build your dream, expect this. Every. Single. Day.  Like a race, the most important thing is to keep moving forward, even if the line isn’t straight and it seems like everyone is passing you.  Just never lose sight of how great seeing that finish line can look.

The face of success means you wear bags under your eyes because you’ve been awake since 3am worried about whether the 100th line in your financial forecast spreadsheet accounted for an extra 5,000 litre tank in 2024. Yeah, that happens; and most often it means getting up to look at the forecast because it will otherwise drive you nuts. We’re building a great small business so a racing mind at 3am is part of the package.

joel shoveling rock in septic field

The face of success in this industry means that you become a marvellous expert in almost everything in your business. The wine business is known as one of the most complex small businesses. How many other businesses involve producing your own raw materials, manufacturing an end product, selling retail, creating multiple distribution channels, design marketing materials and dealing with 6 different government bodies?  Sometimes all in one day.  And it realllly helps if you know a thing or two about wine and can talk about it without scaring off people who find it intimidating.  It’s actually really cool to be a farmer from 6am until 10am, a sales guy from 11am to 5pm then a marketing expert in the evening.  And the financial analyst at 3am.  No day is the same.  None are boring.  Or short.  And days off usually mean you’re doing what you love most for your business. For me, that means designing wine labels in Photoshop.  And I think it will mean meeting you and talking about our wines in the tasting room when we open.

The face of success means you’re constantly learning. You’re constantly adapting. You’re constantly jumping into a new day of uncertainty.  It’s constant problem solving.  It isn’t for everyone, but for change junkies, the adrenaline flows like … well … wine, so the wine business may be a great home.  I never dreamed I would ever build my own wastewater system, but when I can save $70,000 on a $110,000 quote (when money is tight), I quickly became competent in all things wastewater and big machinery.  And it wasn’t just an excuse to get to play with heavy machinery.  700 linear feet of trenching and 130 tons of gravel later, I’m almost there!  You can’t let a little thing like money get in the way of your dream if you want it that bad.

joel with dirt on face

And some days, the face of success is that bad selfie of you standing too close to the open fire. But the eyebrows were unscathed and no Blundstones were harmed in this incident. It’s all good.

Nobody said building a dream was easy.  If it was, dreams would be called gimmees … or something that doesn’t involve fluffy clouds and super happy endorphins. 

But most of all, the face of success is also the look on your face when your friends try your wines for the first time and are genuinely impressed. Your heart skips a beat, and it feels like someone has just breathed life into your soul. You know your friends and family will always be there for you and support you any way they can.  But it sure makes their lives a lot easier if your product is something they can truly stand behind.  And this is really what it’s all about.  IMHO almost nothing is better or more satisfying than sharing a great glass of wine with special people.  There is a profound satisfaction from seeing the fruits of so much hard labour coming together in that perfect glass.  This is why we chose this life.  This is why it’s our dream.

I hope everyone discovers what it takes to build their dream and what their unique face of success looks like.