• WOW: Pedroncelli is a Women Owned Winery

    February 27, 2018 16:38

    WOW: Pedroncelli is a Women Owned Winery

    Family businesses are different than others because most of our co-workers are spouses, siblings or cousins. You know, when we were growing up here at the winery, women outnumbered my Dad 5 to 1. With four daughters and my Mom he survived but as my sister Lisa put it “his lifetime achievement award was well deserved-he survived four teenage girls”. He was raised in part by his sisters Margaret and Marianne who were 10 and 9 years older than he was so he had a good start in the girl department.

    Women over the years have played an important part in this family business of ours. My grandmother Julia helped everywhere from the vineyard to administration to maintaining the family home and the countless dinners they hosted. Don’t forget my aunts who not only took care of my dad but they also worked with their parents to run the vineyard and farm. Later on Margaret and my uncle Al grew Zinfandel and Petite Sirah for the winery. My mother Phyllis and aunt Christine, from the second generation, also had roles in the running of the business from market visits to weighing in grape trucks, bookkeeping to hospitality.

    Because of the hard work and dedication of the first two generations the third and fourth generation became owners. Those generations are predominately women (see note above about me and my three sisters and includes cousins too).

    I was asked a great question at the #winestudio discussion earlier this month when the tweet up was the subject of women owned wineries. How did I find my voice and my calling amidst a family business? When I was attending college my parents encouraged me to do what I wanted to do-to pursue my dream. I majored in English with a Writing Emphasis and thought I’d go into the publishing world. A weekend side job of helping my sister in the tasting room had me commuting between El Cerrito in the East Bay to Geyserville-where I realized how much I missed Sonoma County. A few months later my dad and I had a chat in the case goods warehouse and he asked me if I’d be interested in working for the winery. I had had enough of the city life (cue Green Acres music) and came back home armed only with an English degree and willingness to learn.

    Part of the blessing of a family business is when we are hired we are encouraged to take a part of the business that speaks to us-sisters Cathy and Lisa work with administration-they are numbers ladies. I found my voice by writing for the winery-newsletters, background stories, fact sheets, press kits and a blog. Good thing I majored in English w/writing emphasis. I was also afforded the freedom to find my passion about wine not only by writing about it but also traveling around the U.S. markets. When I was growing up in the heart of the winery operations I took for granted what takes place in the vineyard and the cellar. I don’t anymore—I have learned much about the process and if it is possible I have become even more of a wine fan than ever before because there is a world of wines to discover.

    Amy Bess Cook has started a WoW: Women Owned Wineries website highlighting Sonoma County WoW. Check it out here.

    A toast with a splash of Zinfandel in my Dino-the first wine I ever tried.

  • Learning by Example

    June 12, 2015 16:03

    As I mark my 30th year in the family business of wine, my post today is a reflection on learning the ropes of sales and marketing from my dad. Once I graduated from the tasting room to the office I began to learn the intricacies of the wholesale business through my dad Jim who had established this network over the previous 30 years. He and his brother John had hit their stride at this point in the second generation’s story; vineyards and production had expanded and there was wine to sell. The beauty of my dad and uncle’s partnership was they had divided the business almost in two with John taking care of the vineyards and winemaking and dad heading up the selling side. They met in the middle when one or the other overlapped. These meetings are legend among us because they literally met in the yard between the offices.

    So I took a page from my dad’s book and plunged into his end of the business. Plunge is the right word-I had no idea what I was doing but soon put my degree in English to work because I began producing a newsletter which in turn helped me to communicate our story to wholesalers and customers alike. I also began to travel much as my dad had traveled. During this time the Sonoma County Winegrowers put tours together and sometimes it was a week or two in various US markets. One moment I cherish to this day is when Rodney Strong (himself!) walked into one of the event venues where the wines weren’t in place yet and trade would soon be lining up to taste. He said to the small group of winery reps “we are all in this together to promote our county so let’s get to work (delivering the wines to all the tables)”. From that point forward I have seen working with other wineries to broaden the message and working together as the ultimate one-two punch of marketing a region.

    I learned to present wines at sales meetings, to develop materials the market needed and to find the right balance of what was actually needed-this was during the days before internet and you shipped pounds and pounds of sales kits, back-cards and fact sheets. If you visit our case goods warehouse there are some relics of those days stored there even now. There are some great moments and cringe-worthy moments during these formative days-sometimes my enthusiasm or impatience ran over and are stories for another post. A toast to learning by example with some Zin in my Dino!

    Another throwback circa 2005. Stepping back in time is fun-less grey hair! Oh, Ed is the guy next to me. We have worked side by side for 13 years.

    Ed and Julie 2005