On the face of it, owning and running a vineyard and winery is a pretty thankless trade.

First of all, it is a farm with just one crop – grapes. Grapes are not an easy crop – it takes several years for vines to start producing fruit. And they take constant care right through the year. A little bad weather at the wrong time (like a late spring frost, or a bad storm at harvest time) can destroy everything overnight, and there is never an opportunity to plant a second crop to take up the slack.

Then there is the second business to run – a cross between a catering operation and a chemical laboratory. Even if the crop is good, turning grapes into wine takes the brute force of a donkey, the skill of an alchemist, the investment in a small factory and infinite patience.

Even when the wine turns out well and has been stored for years to mature, it has to be sold to fund the whole business. So being a skilled salesman, marketing guru and an entertainer to charm visitors, all rolled into one, is a prerequisite.

And above all there is the need for a great business head. Keeping half a dozen juggling balls up in the air is simple compared to juggling the demands of a winery. How many businesses face the mountain of government regulations imposed on an alcohol related business? How can the risks of a whole year’s crop being lost overnight at the whim of the weather be managed? What other enterprises take years before their first crop, and then another year to turn it into a product, and finally even more years holding it in stock to mature before receiving a single cent of revenue?

I asked Claire Livingston, the owner of Cavender Creek why she took on such a burden. “I had a dream”, she said, “and now I am living it. I have a great team of people helping me, which makes it all possible.” And all her loyal customers have confidence that Claire can make an even great success of Cavender Creek.

Robin

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