“You’d better have a good reason for changing the name of the winery that we assigned to you,”  and I did.

We were handed this assignment:

SCENARIO: You’ve just bought an existing winery. Do all of the following. Then, be prepared to present your marketing plan for this winery to us, the two professors who taught the class together… and were going to be pretending to be the bankers, and also in front of the rest of the class.

  • Research the history, so you know where it’s been.
  • Develop where it needs to go, including the amount of money you need, and what you need it for.
  • Come up with the story to fulfill the niche.
  • Design eye appealing and eye catching materials.
  • Create sales support, from a press kit to POS (Point of Sale, wholesaler support), and POP materials.
  • Be prepared to give an oral 30 minute presentation to the class as a group.
  • Everyone must have a role in the presentation.

First of all, I hated the name they had already chosen for us to use, knowing that I’d never be drawn to a company with that name. It was totally dorky. That was my first mistake on the road to maintaining my 4.0 GPA… A philosophical difference will never get you the A, when the professor holds the power of the grade. I wish I could remember the name for you, but only deep hypnosis will bring that one back. I buried it pretty deeply in my conscious mind. I also know it was a philosophical difference, because I came up with the plan, wrote it, created all the materials, shared it with my group (who were all pretty happy to have me do all the work for them), and then we presented it. Everyone else on my team got an A+, and I got a B+. I gave the professors a great presentation (from everyone else’s grade), but I went against the name they had chosen, so I lost my 4.0 GPA… Just sayin.’

Hard lesson, but has now put me on the edge for anyone else who leaves behind the old and reinvents the wheel.

Fortunately for Jeremy Baker, when I visited at an event where he was pouring, I had no clue where his winery was, and envisioned something else entirely. When it became time to visit a winery, I decided to take him up on his invite to come out to his new winery. It was a day that friends were coming to Sonoma County to visit wineries, Jose hired Pure Luxury Transportation for us (we don’t enjoy drinking and driving), and off we went. I had the address, but didn’t know until we pulled into the driveway, that I was going to the old Davis Bynum Winery.

Holy Caboly… Jeremy Baker had done the unthinkable…

And you know what? He did a great job! I’da given him the A. He did what I knew could be done. Why ride in the shadow of someone else’s history, when you can sink in the investment to make something very special and amazingly wonderful.

According to Jeremy, “Thomas George Estates is the manifestation of the passion and commitment of the Baker Family to continue the tradition of growing great grapes and making great wines in the unique and magnificent Russian River Valley.” While the winery honors the commitment of Davis Bynum, the Baker family is taking it one step further to complete many of the visionary projects that the Bynums just ran out of time to complete.

Prior to owning and operating Thomas George Estates, Jeremy operated several successful restaurants in Toronto, including a great wine bar. He sold and marketed some of the finest wines in the world. When he visited the Davis Bynum property, he knew that somehow he would be moving next to making wine. At Thomas George Estates he’s done just that, and a whole lot more.

It’s a great place to visit, and I highly recommend Thomas George Estates to anyone headed to Russian River Valley, or someone wondering which wine valley to visit. Thomas George won’t disappoint you.

Bring a picnic, enjoy your lunch in the shade of old trees and in the company of your family and friends.

I’m going to let the video give you the snapshot for what a treasure Thomas George Estates really is.

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