January 21, 2023: How’d We End Up Here?
Some of the most common questions we get asked are how we got into the wine industry and why we started a winery. About half the time when we get asked these questions, we can tell the customer has wheels spinning in their head… and they’re a bit envious of our situation…and we don’t blame them! It’s a dream career change for countless people and we’re very fortunate to have been able to make the jump, so let’s talk about how we got here!
If you go way back to my (Greg’s) childhood, I always had entrepreneurial urges. Back in the 90s I was loading up a wagon and selling drinks & popcorn at my brother’s baseball games, or launching an eBay store to sell used components to Go-Ped scooters. I loved the concept of creating a business and running it. As I grew older I knew I wanted to start a business, but I didn’t know what exactly to do. Eventually when I decided to go back to business school for my MBA, I had the vision of entering into management consulting after school so that I could have a rock-solid foundation for starting a business once I was enlightened with what the business would be.
On the other hand, if you look back at Nikhila’s life, she got into farming in 2013 by founding Narra Vineyards. This was a part of carrying on the family tradition of farming. While she had the vineyard, she wanted to make wine, but didn’t have an interest in the business side of owning a winery. Over the years she was selling grapes to many different wineries in the state of Texas, she learned more and more about the Texas wine industry, and particularly the winemaking / winery side of the business. This made her more and more interested in making wine in Texas.
During our first date, I remember telling Nikhila how jealous I was that she owned the vineyard. Soon after the first date, it was apparent that Nikhila wanted to make wine, but wanted someone to run the business side of a winery. A few years later leading up to our wedding, we plunged into the wine industry by making our first vintage. As soon as harvest was over we set off to find land for a tasting room & winery in the Texas Hill Country and listed our house for sale in Dallas.
I continued working in management consulting through all of this, but as we got into building the tasting room, life became a bit too difficult. Tasting room construction was a bit sluggish, and the only solution was to be physically present and GC the construction ourselves. So I left management consulting to focus on getting the business off the ground.
Over the years we’ve had to take on many different roles in the business. Nikhila still is largely responsible for “vines and wines” and I take on the rest. That doesn’t mean she’s the only one involved with winemaking, but she makes the final call on wine making decisions. She has a FAR better palate than I do, and is much better at growing vines (or anything) than I am. I largely take on finance, marketing, operations, etc. and try to run things as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
So the net of it is that starting a winery builds on both of our interests and aspirations, and it just so happens that there’s not excessive overlap between our experiences, making it a great business to run with each other. It has definitely been extremely rewarding and is a fun, low(er) stress career than we’ve had in the past. With the speed that the Texas wine industry is changing and growing, we have no doubt the future looks even more fun than it’s been so far!