piggyIf there were really a God, wouldn’t the Almighty tell us to chase our dreams and then cut a check to cover the costs?

Well that divine check hasn’t come yet for many of us, including some vintners.

With Wine Country’s recent flurry of buyouts from the cash strapped, it begs the question: How does one make a go of it if you’re not a TRUST FUND BABY?

Vintner Brian Callahan — unabashedly TRUST FUND-LESS — has the answer.

“You’ve really got to do your homework,” he said. “Start small, plan for organic growth and make great wine … Self-funding requires a lot of planning, determination and some good fortune.”

Callahan and Steve Gower are a two-man show and their brand – Crux — features small lot Rhone wines from the Russian River Valley. Their wines range from $22 to $45 a bottle. Callahan is the general manager and Gower is the winemaker, although they say most of the work is shared. They produced 500 cases in 2012 when they first went commercial, and now expect to make 2,000 cases. Their goal is to grow to 3,500 cases.

Right now their business plan calls for them to moonlight. By day Callahan provides management consulting to the health care industry, while Gower is in sales for a medical device contract manufacturer.

“We know this is going to take time,” Callahan said. “It also helps that we’d been making wines for almost 10 years before launching the brand, so we knew many of the basics and had a lot of equipment to get us started.”

The duo plans to hold down their day jobs for the foreseeable future.

“While we have a pretty detailed plan, we are staying flexible and re-evaluating as we go along,” Callahan said. “A day off has been a rarity in the last few years; that’s what we signed up for. At peak times, it can mean over 100 hour weeks in the winery and we’re still smiling (and usually drinking a beer) when it’s all over.”

moneyWhat’s the pay off?

“Heck, having a winery is a mind-blowing pay off,” Callahan said. “There is huge satisfaction in building our business from the ground-up and gratitude for being able to pursue something we love. The feedback and enthusiasm we get for the wines is so compelling …”

Crux is an exciting brand to check out. The Crux, 2014 GSM Rosé is particularly tasty. It’s 48 percent grenache, 28 percent syrah, and 24, mourvedre. Dry, with wild strawberry tangy fruit and crisp acidity. It’s a knockout.

When I had a glass recently I toasted to these inspiring, hardworking chaps.

TRUST FUND-LESS babies can surprise you with their resourcefulness.


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