I’ve been called the ‘accidental vintner.’
Never in a million years did I think I’d end up in the wine industry, a predominantly male business. Instead, I spent most of my life as a realtor, selling houses in and around Southwest Portland.
On the weekends in the 80s, my husband and a group of our friends would visit another friend’s gorgeous property in McMinnville, Oregon, about 35 miles southwest of Portland. It was beautiful, pristine and private–one of those special places you visit to escape the hustle and bustle of your daily life.
The Oregon wine industry was in it’s infancy, and we thought, ‘hey, maybe we could grow grapes here.’ So, each weekend we started planting vines and before we knew it, we had created a vineyard.
In the early 90s, my husband and I began our search for a retirement home with more property. We looked high and low, and even as a realtor, I couldn’t find anything just right. Then, in 1996 our friend told us he was looking to sell his McMinnville property, thinking we might buy it. We did. We built our home there and along the way, bought another vineyard. We named them Stone Wolf Vineyards, a compromise between our two favorite name ideas, Stone Bridge and Little Wolf.
Since we purchased the property, I’ve spent my days running the vineyard and producing, marketing and selling wine. Living among the vines is romantic, but it’s a lot of hard work too. Your partner is Mother Nature who can be unpredictable. Plus, the competition is fierce. But, we’ve been lucky–we sell every drop we make. Despite the recession, we’ve grown our business to include three labels–Rascal, Stone Wolf, and Lindsay Cellar and are the first winemaker in the U.S. to offer wine in a fully-recyclable keg. Our wine has won many prestigious awards.
The wine industry is still male dominated, but there’s increasingly more and more women at the helm. I’m not treated any different because I’m a woman. I’m one of them. A few years ago, I released a ‘matriarch series,’ of wine, a tribute to mothers and grandmothers. That label rocked.
I still have my real estate license and do a couple deals a year–mostly dealing with vineyard acquisitions. I can’t give it up.
It’s funny, years ago I was a realtor searching high and low for a great retirement home. Now, I own the best real estate on the planet, and maybe I’m not “retired” in the traditional sense, but I love what I do. I’m getting ready to go into my 16th vintage and this year, we’ll produce about 35,000 cases of wine. I’m Queen of the Vineyard.