Wednesday, July 30, 2008
“Mommy’s Little Helper” Foretold New Career For “Grandma Wine Chick”
On the eve of the 5th Anniversary of Working Girl Wines I’m still asked “how did it happen?”
I have always enjoyed my glass of wine... especially after that long day at work, battling traffic trying to get to daycare or a soccer game on time, and then to hit home and juggle dinner, laundry and homework assignments. Later I found out my kids called my glass of wine “Mommy’s Little Helper”.
I worked at Texas Instruments in Dallas for 25 years. My two kids never quite understood the semiconductor market and if asked what their Mom did they would promptly reply, “My Mom Goes To Meetings!”
In 2001 I took an early retirement package when fate through me a curve ball. I was newly married and got a call from my husband while traveling. He asked me if I wanted to buy a winery. “I guess it would be make good dinner conversation” I laughingly replied… but he was serious! Apparently, my new mother-in-law had co-signed some loans on a winery that was in financial trouble. Here is where fate takes over and shortly thereafter we’re the third owners of Olympic Cellars Winery with a rich heritage on the North Olympic Peninsula and the 15th winery in Washington State.
So at 51, I packed up our house in Dallas and moved to Port Angeles. Four days later I am standing behind a bar 7 days a week and working in the cellar. Gone was this corporate lady always decked out with hair and make-up in place and dressed in suit and heels. I found out all to quick that I needed more muscles, fleece, Ecco boots and a crash course on wine production and operations.
Molly and Libby joined me, helped rebuild the winery and later became my partners in our women owned winery. Fate again stepped in 2003 when we decided that we were going to develop a wine brand with unpretentious fun labels. We spent lots of time working on the wine blends… maybe a little bit too much time one night. I remembered leaning back in my chair and said, “Ladies, I’m exhausted, this working girl has got to go home”. We all sat up totally alert. We hadn’t been able to come up with a name for the wines and there it was --Working Girl -- 3 women all in second careers, mothers to 6 and grandmothers to 7. So we hired a caricature artist and the wines were birthed: Working Girl White, Go Girl Red and Rosé the Riveter.
Running a business was new to all of us. It was our baby and we felt like we were living the American Dream. Early on we knew we could not just schlep wine, we wanted a business with soul and purpose. The Working Girl Wines were Created By Women, In Support Of Women and soon began to support our charity of choice programs. Based on gross wine sales cash donations are made on a monthly basis to local grassroots organizations that support women and families. Donations have grown to over $15,000 in 2007.
La Dolce Vida, our premium wine brand, drives another founding principal of our business… Savor the Good Life and Cherish the Memories. Summer concerts, skydiving and the Grape Stomping Harvest party are just a few of our winery events that bring friends and family together. We also self-designated our own holiday, The Working Girl NO LABOR Day Event! The Working Girls go “on strike” that day joining in on our own party.
Who would have known that “Mommy’s Little Helper” foretold a new career? The iconic Rosie the Riveter poster hangs in our cellar and delivers a message to us every day… We Can Do It, Too!
Maybe my own children never quite understood by first career but it didn’t take my grandchildren long to understand the winery. Harper, my oldest granddaughter, actually gave me my new title. While looking at the t-shirts in our gift shop she stood and pondered one t-shirt that had “Wine Chick” spelled out in rhinestones. Harper turns to me and says, “You’re Grandma Wine Chick!” The name stuck and that pretty much says it all.
Remember, Savor the Good Life and Cherish the Memories.