Visiting an award-winning winery in southern California in the Russian River Valley during harvest has its obvious attractions and benefits! However, an unexpected benefit came out of our visit this fall. Standing delicately among the precious old vines, I listened in awe to the business owner who shared what he discovered over the years in growing his family business: Unwavering values and personal connection.

I knew I was staying in the presence of someone who stood by strong values when he contradicted what’s common and expected in the industry – He proudly does not have a “show-me room” also known as a wine tasting room in which many winery owners spare no expense in décor to impress! With calm confidence he explained that he only wants vineyard visitors who are “about the wine, not the show.” He is prepared to let a potential customer go if values don’t match.

Every employee is trained to effectively fulfill a role in all the key phases of the process…from picking grapes in the field to bottling to packing the wine for delivery to the customer. The owner believes in keeping all his employees active and motivated, even in the steps that can actually become quite boring at times, like long days picking in the field; however, he truly believes they stay engaged even in the less exciting steps because they care:

“The significance of this is that when they are working the field, which some requires many tedious and boring tasks, they understand how these field jobs translate into award-winning quality wines. By working the winery and shipping the wines, they take ownership and pride in every bottle”

How does he recognize everyone’s tremendous efforts? First, he works along side them when he can and yet is very trusting to step away as needed to run the other aspects of the business that only he can do; and Secondly, each employee receives a bottle of the award-winning wine for which they passionately helped to create: They know exactly what went into it, and they share in the customer experience.

My challenge to you: The next time you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, think of this business owner and ask yourself: How do I attract customers whose values I share? How do I create opportunities for my staff to take true ownership? How do I increase my employees’ personal connection to our customers, regardless of their role?

Let your harvest begin…Cheers!

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