Living the Dream

I had a first time customer this last week who smiled when Shiloh (my 4 year old daughter) climbed up into my arms, and he said “you must be living your dream.” I laughed and said “We’ll see.” 

Truth is having our own winery and vineyard has been a dream. It’s certainly not easy, it’s a lot of work and the dream isn’t fully realized, yet every day we get a little bit closer to this dream being a reality. Because it’s not just owning a winery and vineyard, it’s being able to live and work and grow our family here that is the full dream. I often look out our kitchen window and see the sun shining on the monument and think “Wow, I can’t believe we’re really here.” It’s a strange mix of surrealism and stress living your dream.

So how did it start? I had quit my job as a winemaker in Palisade to be home with my kids in January of 2021. I love my kids, but I found the transition to full time mom a lot harder than I thought it would be. I remember when I was working talking with my mom, telling her I felt guilty working and leaving my kids at a daycare even just a few times a week. My mom replied that even if I was home all the time, I would struggle with questioning my decision. There are pros and cons to being home verses working and I was grateful that I at least had the choice to do either. I still worked on the side to help with finances and to have some adult time. We were in a weird place as Casey (my husband) had decided he was ready to get out of medicine after 14 years of nursing. But what to do? We talked about real estate, rentals, going back to school for something non-medical, but nothing really stood out. Then I went to this conference for entrepreneurs and learned a lot about myself and my marriage (not what I expected to learn at an entrepreneurial conference). I realized that I wanted to make a difference in the world. I wanted to build… something. Something that would build community, that would make a difference to those around me. I also realized that Casey’s dream was for us to do something together. I am fiercely independent, which isn’t always a good trait in marriage, and I had always been resistant to us going into business together. We didn’t have the best history of working together in the past. But with this realization also came the knowing that we aren’t the same people we used to be and if the right opportunity came, we could be a great team.

Little did I know that opportunity would come just two months later! I ran into the previous owner of our property and was chatting about life, just catching up when he said “we’re thinking about selling our property in Grand Junction.” I was surprised as I didn’t know he had property in GJ as his main winery is in Cedaredge. I asked him to tell me about it and as he told me, my heart started racing along with my mind. It’s amazing the millions of things that you can think in a moment. Like, was this what we’ve been waiting for? Nah, this is crazy. We couldn’t possibly buy a vineyard or start a winery. There’s no way we could get financing. Casey would never go for it. Then again, why not? Why not tell him we’re interested in buying it? What could it hurt to go and look and dream a little? What if it actually worked and this is the beginning of something. “I guess if you’re thinking about selling, we’re thinking about buying.” I blurted out before I could change my mind. We planned to meet the next day and I went home and told Casey. He was very gracious and didn’t say a thing about me being crazy. We went out to the vineyard, walked around, talked about what would be included in the sale and went home. I was nervous to ask Casey what he thought. I was in love! I grew up on property back in Texas, had horses, and all kinds of adventures and truly missed the country life. It was also something I wanted for my kids and I had thought it was out of our reach. Suddenly it didn’t seem so far, but what if Casey didn’t feel the same?

We talked together, talked with friends, prayed a lot, and decided we’d give it a go. Researched what a good price would be and made an offer. Then worked on financing. It felt like forever, but it was less than 6 months later that we closed and moved out to the vineyard. 

You know that saying “Teamwork makes the dream work?” I had always thought of it as when you work well together it makes work so easy it feels like a dream. Now I see that it really means it makes your dream happen! Neither Casey or I could do this with out each other. And even though doing this with little kids is extra hard, it also makes it that much more valuable to us. To build a life around a family business, with a property we can build a community around, with vines and dirt and animals, it really is the dream.

So, what’s your dream? And who is on your team? As a side note: next time your spouse comes to you with a crazy idea (like buying a vineyard), might as well talk it out and see what amazing thing might come of it