Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ross Halleck, Owner of Halleck Vineyard, located in Sebastopol, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
In a world increasingly dominated by giant, faceless corporations, we are a small, family-owned winery dedicated to building community through wine. We host intimate gatherings of up to 16 guests for wine tasting salons in our estate, situated next to the oldest accessible Pinot Noir vineyard in Sebastopol, by appointment only. And our wines have received numerous awards and accolades.
Tell us about yourself
Jennifer and I planted our vineyard as a side project in the hopes it might someday pay for our son's college tuition. When our first estate Pinot Noir vintage was judged the best Point in America; we realized we'd stumbled into something very special. Now, in addition to our Estate Grown Pinot Noir, we also make Pinots with grapes from other vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Sonoma Mountain AVAs.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment, because I built this business with my partner Jennifer Halleck, has been building a community of wine enthusiasts who join us for special events like private dinners and exclusive engagements. Not only have I become great friends with so many of our Inner Circle Wine Club members, but what is even more gratifying is how many of our members have become friends with each other.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest part of being a family-owned winery is getting found in the age of Google and Amazon, which exercise huge levels of control over commerce these days. It's not enough to just make exceptional wine. We have to be technicians as well, or no one finds us. If you're a small business owner, securing the resources to compete online is probably the biggest challenge.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Passion and commitment are definitely a requirement when it comes to start-ups. But unfortunately, they are not enough to guarantee success. The best advice I can give is unless you have deep pockets, you need to generate cash flow as soon as possible. Only spend money on the critical path of reaching the next phase of your growth. Everything else can wait.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If you are ever in the neighborhood, we hope you'll consider joining us for a Sebastopol wine tasting.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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