Barry Waitte is a Vintner and Proprietor at Tamber Bey Vineyards and the President of the Board Of Directors at Oakville Winegrowers. He began his career in the tech industry, working for Apple and AOL in sales before his passion for the wine beverage industry took hold. Previously, Barry was the Chairman of the Board for Structural Integrity Associates, and he earned his degree in business from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Barry Waitte explains his background in technology and graphics design — and how the alcohol industry prevailed
- Why the wine industry fosters a strong camaraderie
- How do bigger wineries help expand and advocate for smaller brands?
- Barry talks about the passion and values that go into scaling a winery
- The importance of asking for and initiating opportunities
- Barry describes endurance racing and life with horses
- Why letting Mother Nature grow varietals can produce successful results and powerful flavors
- What are some brand-building best practices?
In this episode with Barry Waitte
Where can a winery turn for guidance on environmental, financial, or business challenges? When it comes to lending a helping hand, Barry Waitte says other winemakers are there to elevate, expand, and lift up one another. How else can you grow your brand in a saturated market?
Barry firmly believes you need to position yourself early on for success. By having a complete and cohesive plan, you’re ahead of the game when it’s time to sell. Barry is passionate about helping and taking care of his consumers, and his standard of care translates across all levels. Today, he is here to share learning experiences to help you cultivate success.
In this episode of Legends Behind the Craft, join Drew Hendricks and Bianca Harmon as they sit down with Barry Waitte, Vintner and Proprietor at Tamber Bey Vineyards, to discuss the dedication and parallel between horses, wine, and curating a sustainable brand. Barry talks about the importance of camaraderie in the wine industry, translating value and passion into all levels of winemaking, and best practices in the industry.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Barrels Ahead
- Drew Hendricks on LinkedIn
- Bianca Harmon on LinkedIn
- Barry Waitte on LinkedIn
- Tamber Bey Vineyards
- Daniel Daou on Legends Behind the Craft
- Ken Freeman on Legends Behind the Craft
- Guillaume Fabre on Legends Behind the Craft
- Silver Oak Winery
- Robert Mondavi Winery
- John Sculley on LinkedIn
- Dr. William Solomon on Twitter
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.
At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.
Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.
So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!
Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry with your host Drew Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show
Drew Hendricks 0:19
Drew Thomas Hendricks here I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. past guests of Legends Behind the Craft include Daniel Daou of Daou vineyards Guillaume Fabre of Clos Selene, and Ken Freeman and Freeman winery. If you haven’t listened to these yet, be sure to check them out and subscribe. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead. We work with you to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy. One that highlights your authenticity, tells your story and connects you with your ideal customers. In short, we help wineries and craft beverage producers unlock their story to unleash their revenue. Good a barrelsahead.com today to learn more. So today I also have Bianca Harmon on the show. That’s one of our direct to consumer marketing strategists that Barrels Ahead. How’s it going, Bianca?
Bianca Harmon 1:06
It’s good. I’m super excited to talk with Barry and hear all about Tamber Bey vineyards.
Drew Hendricks 1:13
Yes, yes. Today’s guest is Barry Waitte. The owner of Tamber Bey Vineyards in Tamber Bey is it’s located on the Sundance ranch in Calistoga, which is home to both the winery and the professional and a professional horse ranch. There is a senior serial entrepreneur and active philanthropist sits on the board of the Oak Hill Wine Growers Association, and is an elite endurance horse racer. Welcome to the show. Barry.
Barry Waitte 1:38
Thank you very much. Nice introduction. And Bianca, good to see you this afternoon. Yeah, it’s a pleasure to be
Drew Hendricks 1:46
Oh, pleasure to having you on. I don’t even know where to begin your bio kind of reads like the most interesting man in the world.
Barry Waitte 1:54
Got some chapters to write. So hold off on that one.
Drew Hendricks 1:59
You got your start in tech, the early days in apple.
Barry Waitte 2:02
I did. I did kind of go with that. When I got out of college I was in this was like in the late 70s. I was enamored with computers. And at that time, computers were like the science of buses. I still enamored with them because they solve real world problems. And so when I got out of school, though, I had a finance degree, I went into marketing into a tech company. And I was there for about 12 14 months. And a friend of mine invited me to a house party. And so we went down there. And it surprised me that soon as we walked in the door, he went one way. And I was less kind of like Okay, now what do I don’t want anybody? What do you do, you start walking around picking up a few drinks here and there, start talking to people make a long story short, about two hours into this thing, I get over to a group that is hanging out on these couches. And I find out they all work at this small little company I’d really never heard of before. And this is 1980 in context. And we started talking about the computers. And I said what kind of computers you make. And they started talking about sizes of computers like this big, real computer? Well, we got into a little bit of a discussion about that. And I just remember saying maybe distinctly sounds like a good Pong machine, or the game Pong. Yeah, so it was fine with me. And a guy gets off the couch comes over to me and we have a mano a mano discussion, call it a serious argument about this, you know how computing is going to you know, change the world. And this little box is going to do this. But nonetheless, I walked away after that didn’t think much of it. so forth. Couple days later, I got a call from Steve Jobs office, and that I didn’t realize it. But that was my first interview, and allergies. And so, sure enough, I went to work there, I thought I’d go there for about a year sounds like a good, interesting thing to do. You know, I’m in my early 20s. And I ended up being there for 14 years. And it was a great, great experience. I drank the juice, I believe that we were here to change the world. I worked for one of the most inspirational people on the planet, and also one of the most difficult people that you could work for on the planet. But it was a fantastic experience and a crime that this gets into now the mid 90s. I’m a I’m wanting to prosper again into small companies I found out that’s what I really liked to do. So I went to work for a very small company, I was the eighth employee. And this this company was in design. And this is before the internet design on computers. And one of the customers that we acquired very quickly was an online concern in the East Coast that wanted to take their techspace online system to graphics because we were the graphics expert on computers but getting the online world per se
Drew Hendricks 4:45
it was the lines of like the time of prodigy.
Barry Waitte 4:50
Prodigy was there CompuServe Yes, very much you know, put in letters backslash dot dot. Well, this company let’s see You know, the unveiling of this company was AOL, design their interface for AOL. And it was really the first design of what we call channel design. And you know, creating a channel. So our screen that we developed first one kind of history. It was whether it had clouds on it, you touch that and go with channel, shopping, news, all these great things. Well, we made a system that was so interesting to them, that they ended up buying us this company. And so I participated as an AOL employee for about four years. And that took me right up to 1999. So there’s my career. For a couple of companies. I’d like to say that I ran out of companies to begin with, hey, you know, I want to do that. But what really did happen through is, I had a couple of good hits along the way. That’s what we all work for. We want to want some of these hits, we have some independence on what you wanted to do. And so I achieved that at a younger age, I never thought I would, I was very blessed. But I really sat back and said, No, what do I want to do with the rest of my life? And it really kind of came into the context of lifestyle. And so you know, I can stay in high tech, I can do this run company, whatever it might be. But my focus was lifestyle. And a whole nother thread of conversation is, you know, I’ve been associated with Napa Valley since 1959. Parents came up here, were vacationing one week, went to two weeks went to four weeks. Right where Bianca is right and st Halina. So that’s where I grew up as a kid. And then my latest later years in high school, in high school, well, kinda High School in college. You know, like all of us, I was drinking wine for quantity. College, didn’t care what color it was. And but I worked in a liquor store and the gentleman that owned it came out and brought a bottle out. I started drinking with him and I said, you know, what is this and it turned out to be in 1974 bowyer vineyards towards the tour. And I said, I am so many ways down the line, he says, We know why there’s trust crew, it’s my Dobby. And I, you know, boom, the system went off in my mind. Now, I went for a career in tech first, but I came a serious wine connoisseur. And my dad would call me a professional consumer in that respect. And but then I started going back to Napa began just on trips, offsides, things of that nature. So you know, the crescendo happened in 1999. I said, Okay, let’s pick up all my toys, I’m gonna go to Napa, I’m going to start living that lifestyle. And then I’m gonna start figuring out what to do with the rest of my life. Okay, that’s the, that’s how I got here. And it was all in the spirit of keeping the engine running. As they say, the shark doesn’t breathe and less moving.
Drew Hendricks 7:50
Yeah, so it was It wasn’t so much a gap year, that’s something just to kind of take shift away from technology for a bit, just to enjoy the ride. And so you were, it was this when you started your angel investing firm.
Barry Waitte 8:02
I started it right at the end of my AOL career, I was fortunate to get kind of hooked up with a couple of organizations. And I helped start a company and as an angel investor. So I did that. In 1998. Actually, in 1999, when I just engaged with AOL, I started to come up to Napa, that kind of kind of thing. I also was associated with a whole bunch of other things. I think this is what happens, you have the confusion of what you think is an act of retirement, and really clear what you want to do. So you start doing all kinds of things. And so I started this little wine business, I was doing a bunch of angel investing, I was going down this path of philanthropic. So there’s all kinds of actually got into local government, you know, with prospects of being on the council and mayor of the Silicon Valley town. And so you know, what happened? That workout worked out very well, I didn’t do it. worked out very well. But, you know, the wine business, you know, prevailed out of this thing. My, my angel stuff did well for a couple of years. But here’s what I found to be in, in Silicon Valley to be in tech not to bring this back into play. And you got to be in the game to stay in the game. Right? That business moves so fast, the nomenclature, the you know, who’s on first leadership, that what’s up and coming hot stuff. And if you’re not in the game, you’re out, and therefore you’re not able to contribute in that positive affection. So I kind of realized that early on. And I didn’t want to stay in and go to all the conferences and network and all that kind of stuff. I was really kind of enjoying this Napa lifestyle. And I started backing out and in 2005, one company that I started, we sold it to Microsoft, so we had a really another good hits. And that was nice. But then I said, Okay, I’m gonna back out of every data point from the tech world.
Drew Hendricks 9:59
Three big wins. That’s a mark. Right? Is an entrepreneur and all the stuff you’ve learned over the 20 years he spent at Apple and AOL and angel investing. What are the what are the parallels this between the tech industry and running a winery? Like what? Transferable skills? I guess?
Barry Waitte 10:19
Yeah. Okay, well, let’s just start on the one that is, what it is, is tech moves, as I was talking about so fast. And when I was in the business, I used to say, decisions, and livelihoods in high tech are determined in seconds. Now, it’s nanoseconds. I mean, it is just so fast jumping into the wind industry. And the way I did I bought some property became a farmer. You can’t speed up farming, farming, is it? I mean, it has its natural path. And so here, I was waiting for producer, I was always constantly can we get it faster? Can I get the harvest quicker, but I’m the boy. So it’s one of the things I had to overcome was that, but here’s something is, I don’t know if it’s a parallel or not. But I think it’s worth noting, in high tech, and I think this is in a lot of businesses. It is defined by your intellectual property, right. And if you look at high tech, and it’s all about it, every company has their IP lawyers, it’s all about the trademarks, and all that good stuff, and software. In the wine business, there isn’t any. This is, this isn’t completely what the high tech would call an open source environment. It’s why we share we talk, if you have a problem, go away, I used to come in early on that if I had an issue, because I live very close to silver oak winery, if I had an issue on one of my grapes, or at least I would go over I could just take it to a silver oak and they’d want to look at it and understand it, and kind of helped me out because of the prospect is if you’ve got an issue in your vineyard, we’re gonna have it pretty soon, because it’s just kind of, you know, viruses and diseases and then your, as an example, doesn’t see any boundaries. And so this camaraderie here was something I had to learn how to deal with the beginning it didn’t feel right because I was not in the sharing mode. And I felt awkward asking maths. I overcame that a couple of years. And I was a noted, denoted, so to speak, by being appointed on the Oakville winegrowers board about 13 years ago. And, and that’s probably one of the best honors because I’m hanging with the guys that run silver oak and Opus and foreign yen today. And Grace just got stalwarts of Apple Valley, and now on their leadership team of promoting it very well, I ran into a guy and we became friends, a gentleman by name of David Pearson, at the time, he was the CEO of Opus. But I think he became fascinated with my background. And, of course, I have a lot of energy, I keep going, I talk a lot. And he seemed to enjoy that. And so he invited me onto the board. And he became very clear why I was invited, because there’s a lot of older people that have been on that board a long time. And they were looking for that transition of people. Fresh blood, fresh meat, you know, having come in. So I have a very funny story. I’m gonna leave the name out of this, but I was walking into my first meeting with one of those people. And I said, Hey, man, do you have any insight to what I can do and contribute to, to these meetings that we’re about to have? And he just kind of looked at me bluntly, and he said, Don’t say a word. To us a naughty word in there. I didn’t want to break. And I you know, what was the best advice I ever got. So I did for the first year, I just sat and listened, you know, and and raised my hand a couple of times and ask questions. But look, with that room full of talent and experience. I just absorbed it all. And it was fantastic. And as as those elders kind of went on, you know, it became more of a leader in the group. And then, you know, here’s the catch me out of this one is last October, I was appointed president of the Oklahoma jurors group. I’ll be doing that for the next three years. So that was a nice, nice pat on the back. Yeah, so let’s talk about parallels. You did that through sorry, you’re kind of a tangent there.
Drew Hendricks 14:22
But before we go that did talk about the winegrowers associate, what’s the biggest focus right now for you guys there.
Barry Waitte 14:29
The mission of the group is to promote oak. And it’s an ADA and I won’t go into it that is to help some of our but it is to promote Oakville as the best or certainly one of the most extraordinary places on the planet for Cabernet Sauvignon. That is our mission. And so the one thing that Robert Mondavi did in the 70s and and Mondavi is part of the association, but he knew for a fact that if he wanted to make Mondavi Winery more rotary now, he would have almost zero chance of doing that if he did it on his own. And so his very famous line here, and it’s used in other places. I don’t think he invented it, certainly. But all boats rise with the tide. Yes, let’s talk about Napa. And get people thinking Napa, to which then if people buying Apple products, we will all succeed. When we do that at a micro level, with the outfield, and there’s other associations, there’s Rutherford, and Johnsville, and so forth. But the ultra one, I think, is one of the more successful ones in Napa. And I’m just going to kind of didn’t translate it maybe one of the more successful ones in the United States. So we deal with just trying to promote brand, how do we get it out there? Things of that nature, one of the challenges we deal with, and we have technical discussions about the challenges of growing wine, growing, growing fruit. And so that goes anywhere from climate change, to disease to pass and things of that nature. So we kind of dive into that stuff. And we’re big money, contributors and stimulators of things onto that number of years ago, there was a an infestation of a bug called the European great model. And it was it was in Oakville. And sure enough weeks later, I mean, literally weeks later, multiple counties had a complete lockdown on this because if this bug took off, we would have been in trouble. And so we got counties involved in a lot of people got there. But there will be a lot of it happened in Oakland. And because we take this stuff pretty seriously. For us, there’s a lot of steps. So that’s kind of the things that we wrestle with. Our biggest challenge right now, I think is how do we get the Oakville brand International? Yeah, it’s pretty done pretty well in the national realms. We have some great vineyards that people know from tokelauan, to elbows to clients and so forth. But they know the names of the brands of the winery. So how do we get Oakville up there? Because Oakville has probably 6065 vineyards and wineries associated with it. We’d like to know we’d like to have people think that if you saw Oakley on the label, you’re gonna go after that just because you know, that’s coming from one of the greatest terroirs in the world. So your question
Drew Hendricks 17:13
though, I love that’s fantastic. So we talked to a few other MBAs and you’re there’s new ones popping up all the time. What advice would you have to a young fledgling ABA, to kind of elevate themselves and to expand and advocate?
Barry Waitte 17:28
I think the way that the Oprah became very successful is it got the big known wineries to be the initial leadership team. And so, you know, I replaced David Pearson, the x now ex CEO, but we had a sincere group of bigger wineries. And then they allow the smaller ones in certainly, but let’s make sure we get those big ones into the show leadership, show how they built their brand. There’s an extension of what they did that happens into the assumption. That’s, I think that’s
Drew Hendricks 18:03
almost like, stores in a mall where you want to have the gotta get the big guys in in order to,
Barry Waitte 18:09
you really do gotta get the anchors, and so and I think the rest will follow.
Bianca Harmon 18:15
So to be on the Oakdale board, do you have to be in the Oakville?
Barry Waitte 18:20
Yes, absolutely. You have to have an entity. We allow wineries. And we also allow just vineyards but those vineyards have to be of some size, you know, we can’t
Bianca Harmon 18:29
located in Calistoga. So you’re not getting the Oakville, ABA, so I presume you’re
Barry Waitte 18:35
okay. Yes, presumably, you presume, right? I have. I have an Oakville vineyard. It makes our flagship wine here at Tamber Bey. I’m honored to live on this property as well. And though it’s a small piece of property, it’s five acres in vineyard 11 acre piece of property next to minimal size. It is the alto, ABA, so I pay my dues. And I sit under the requirements of that. And I think actually one of my charters as president is to continue this promotion of Oakville, but starting to really throw emphasis on the smaller entities, not accurately and quite frankly, not just create the burden that it’s always openness. And it’s always oriented. We’re fantastic wineries, great partners. But it’s everybody else underneath that that is really going to carry it forward for next 1520 years. So yeah, being a small representation of that, I think I can represent that point of view. So we’ve got some ideas all around that. So it’s pretty cool. I love it.
Drew Hendricks 19:33
And we got that was interesting so far back to the parallel between inter entrepreneur and winery.
Barry Waitte 19:40
So wineries typically are small businesses. We think of Napa Valley 90% of the wineries that are here, and we’re dealing with over 1000 Now for all small businesses, so it’s all we’re all entrepreneurs, and we have those struggles. The good news is we have those freedoms, we can move fast So we can do what we want, or small and many, you know, have capitalization issues and so forth. So there’s great parallels to that. What’s wonderful about a lot of small businesses, I mean, like less and less, I’ve started, you know, startups, it could be just out of a garage. There’s an Oakville winery that’s been around for years, it’s still in their garage, they make the wine in the garage. And so there’s there’s kind of parallels in that smallness. I think, when we suggested risk, it’s just a big deal in business anyway, smaller businesses have to take on a little bit more risk, and certainly big ones. We don’t have funding sources, sometimes hard to attract talent in a small business like that. And so there’s a lot of parallels into that. And I like those challenges. Those are things that you really think through your business plan, these things are your messaging that you think through, you know, it’s not just the making, it’s the selling part. And that’s very important. I’ll just go back a little bit when I was getting my first loan back in 2010, to really start expanding with Silicon Valley Bank. I remember I came there and I was all barreled up about how our wine is made. And I’ve got one of the best wine makers on the planet and all this kind of good stuff. And the guy that I’m kind of pitching this to just kind of listened very patiently. And then he said, So how are you going to sell it? Okay, let’s change nappies here. And I absolutely believe that it’s, I don’t say it’s not difficult. But making good wine in Napa, is our specialty, we’ve got the talent. And people want to be good winemakers. And while they come to Napa, right, this is a rich rich zone for winemaking. But it’s a crowded zone. Instead, we got 1000 labels up here, we got Sonoma over here, banging on our door and the proliferation of wineries over the United States. I think there’s now 13 14,000 wineries throughout the United States. So look at how you market, how you sell your wine, how do you position yourself is so important, and you have to do it early on, you can kind of wait for your wine just to kind of grow and to get a good store score. That’s not going to do it anymore. You’ve got to have a complete cohesive plan that started out at the beginning. And that’s what makes great entrepreneurs. Last but not least, what doesn’t make a great entrepreneur, usually people with passion, that’s why they’re in a small game, they’re going forward. And as my former boss, once you kind of taught me this, he knows what he loves about people with passion. It’s not that they’ll work hard, necessarily, it’s not that they’ll love what they’ll do that has nothing to do with it. He says most of the cases, that’s not the case. But people with passion, don’t fail, just don’t fail. Right? You’re in this, you’re you’re seated yet. You’re all in. And that’s entrepreneurs, you’re gonna figure it out, you’re gonna take some bruises, you’re gonna, you’re gonna fail a few times on thought concept products that just keep coming back and fighting, because failures will help define your success.
Bianca Harmon 23:09
Steve Jobs that gave you this?
Barry Waitte 23:13
Very much, very much. Yeah, so I got to be entertained by him a few times, while I was. In his brief time there, you know, he, when I was there, I was in 1980. And he left in 1985. And, you know, I was there until 94. But a lot of his thoughts prevailed, obviously, him coming back was fantastic for the company. So I had no relationship with him after I after he left, none whatsoever.
Bianca Harmon 23:47
But it sounds like his work. And his, you know, what he taught and spoke with you about really instilled who you are today in what you do with your business.
Barry Waitte 23:56
So what he would talk about, and this is good practice for anybody, you know, and this can be business this can be personalized is to really reflect on your values, you’ve got to sell a value. And he was really big on that. You know, you never saw an advertisement that talks about speed bits and bytes and stuff like that. And, and, and matter of fact, when he initiated if you remember the Think Differently campaign, it’s fantastic. You never saw an Apple product. Never. It was all about this vision. And this value that was granted to for the imagery of Nike does the same thing. You’ll never see a Nike shoe at Nike ad or if you do, it’s just kind of like running off. It’s not showing you the features of the waffle bottom, what used to be in the old days, and all that kind of stuff. So you know, and that’s I’ve tried to instill that here at Tamber Bey, that value of lifestyle. We’re about passion, about following the things that you really like to do and Yeah, we enjoy him. I’ll tell you what, running a winery and you know, hanging out with 25 horses at Sundance ranch. I mean, I pick two careers that are the most labor intensive.
Drew Hendricks 25:13
Difficult for running a horse ranch or winery?
Barry Waitte 25:15
Yeah, well, it kind of depends, you know, harvest is tough. But you know, winter for horses, it’s not a fun time. I mean, everything’s muddy stuff like that. And the horses are 24/7. I mean, we’ve got to set up safe environments for him, we’ve got to feed them, we’ve got to medically take care of them. And it’s 24/7. So that’s difficult. But you know, I won’t call them my pets, that’s a little different. I got dogs and cats, those are pets, but because these are very sophisticated animals, and we just have a very big love for taking care of them. And so one of the things we do here, you know, in staff meetings and management meetings, so where we talked about standards, and our standard of care, and our standard of care for our horses, is the same high level standard of care of making wine, taking care of employees, and taking care of customers. So we have that quadrant that we think of says, what are the best things that we can do for attending to all of those with a high level of standard. And I think we do a pretty good job with that. One of which is because that’s what we focus on. It’s one of our values. And, you know, if someone, here’s a here’s another kind of example, and I learned this from another CEO, his name was John Sculley, you know, it’s kind of like how you deal with failure. And, you know, it’s just, you have to come out of that, with knowledge, and inspiration for succeeding. You can’t sit there and keep continually lick your wounds, you can’t just give me a really bad analogy. You can’t just fall off your horse and then walk away. Yeah, you got to get right back on. And you’ll find out soon as you get back on your Okay, everything’s good. But I’m gonna go learn not to do that. Probably not. Right, or whatever. And then just a sense, you know, if we talked about discussions, and I’ve done these speeches and podcasts, you know, this kind of eclectic career I’ve had and how I got into places, I want to remind people, I have a closet full of failures, I mean, skeletons that, you know, be a podcast on its own. But you reflect on him.
Drew Hendricks 27:21
Talking about failures, what was your biggest learning experience?
Barry Waitte 27:25
Oh, my gosh, biggest learning experience from a failure? Well, I won’t say necessarily from a failure. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So I can tell you of what I would consider failures that I didn’t get something that I reflected back on it, because I just didn’t have a phone call. I didn’t I guess what was I intimidated? Was I lazy? Did I think that I was gonna get no anyway. So why don’t always always go for it? And you know, sometimes don’t take no for an answer. You’ve learned that in basic sales. So it’s one of the things that I just look back on. And I have those that I wish I had been more aggressive in asking for help asking for things. Steve tells a story as an example, that at 12 years old, he called Hewlett of Hewlett Packard, and he said, Hey, man, I want to make this device, what this device was, and he says, You have hearts there, I’d like to do that. And and he said, that bill literally laughed on the phone, and then gave him the parts and actually gave him a job. So if Steve did not ask, I mean, a 12 year old calling up a CEO of a company. I mean, it’s crazy, right? Don’t ask you don’t get. So reach out.
Drew Hendricks 28:48
That’s great advice. That’s great advice. Now also, going back about that level of care and your dedication to care between and immediately saw the parallel between horses and wine, and that you’ve got this, these Arabian horses with such innate talent. And you’ve got to cultivate that talent and bring them up to racing standards. Just like the innate quality of the grape bringing it through the winemaking and through the barrels and bringing out everything that’s its full potential.
Barry Waitte 29:14
Drew That’s really a good parallel with each other, because both don’t happen immediately. Both need care about both, you have to be very patient, both you’re gonna get setbacks along the way, Mother Nature is gonna throw your crap on, then you’re, you know, just if our horses which they are their athletes, they’re going to attend to attendant strain or something like that, you know, gotta be patient, you know, don’t try to over exercise them, things like that. So there is a lot of parallels that, quite frankly, test me because I’m not the most patient guy. And
Drew Hendricks 29:47
you gotta be a little patient endurance, horseback riding area. You’re going horse racing. You’re going 100 miles.
Barry Waitte 29:53
Yeah, endurance racing. 50 to 100 miles
Drew Hendricks 29:55
to take that segway on the lead athlete Got it. How did you get into this endurance horse racing?
Barry Waitte 30:03
Well, first if I could just sideways on the horses, so most people get into horses at a young age, I’m going to specifically kind of shout out women, they get this horse gene. And my seven year old, they have horse stuff all over the walls, right? Men don’t get that men get that tractor dean or the sport Dean or baseball game or whatever. But by the way, this is how my wife got started in horses. She was one of those. I didn’t ride a horse and toss 38 years old. And I didn’t ride a horse to ride a horse. I rode a horse to do a sport. So a good friend of mine in high tech guy, very well known in Silicon Valley, his name is Dr. Solomon. He did this long distance horse race. And why would you want to spend 10 15 20 hours on a horse, I got better things to do in my day, he invited me to a very prestigious 100 mile race, he needed crew to meet him along the way. And so I went up the night before. And I stressed I started with this fascination. I was looking at 200 athletes, not horses, with their partners, and they’re all preparing and they’re all doing the things when the race was going on all day long. I got halfway through that race in my curiosity, specifically around sports, which is another big thread of my life, really. But at the end of the race, I just don’t doctor says I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to write an endurance race. And it took me about 1819 months before I actually did my first race in a 50 mile race in San Jose came in 13th place and I thought to bits, how did I get through this thing because I was hurting all over the place. But I said something that I’ve continued to say today, every time I finish a race with the exception of a few of those in a second. I can do better next time. I think that’s what keeps golfers going right? I just may not as crazy sport. But I would say that I can do better next time. And so that 50 miler turned into I did do 13 I got up into the top 10 And then so forth. And the only times I didn’t have to say that is when I want to race. And I started doing that later, not that far later on. So I became a two time national champion, I won the 50 mile 100 mile championship in 2016, when the 100 mile championship in 2005, in Montana, and I won a gold medal in the Pan American Games. It was a team competition. So I wasn’t the individual. But I was part of the team that did that. And a whole bunch of other accolades. So we took that my wife by the way, she’s a better writer and more accomplishments than me. But we got together, which was great. And we ride together, we raced together. And I’m going to intercept your next question. So what happens if you guys are like going to the finish line together? What do you do? And I’m going to tell you, I’ve learned a lesson. Big one. I’m either second or I’m single. I’m okay with that. There’s always another race. But so that’s one of our passions. And though I’m kind of on the backside of my racing career, Jennifer certainly is not. She’s got a big 100 mile race he wants to get through this year. So she’s in high level training for that with one of our horses named Woody. And what he’s doing it man he’s, he’s performing well on the inner mentor in immediate style racist to get there. He’s never done 100 miles before. If anybody can get this horse there and through it, it’s gonna be Jennifer. She’ll be great. Horses do have. So we personally on six horses. For them, our endurance horses. I have two other horses was a rescue that we did. It was just a bleeding heart moment. So we did that. And then we have a Friesian, which I imported from Holland about a year and a half ago. And he’s just the centerpiece horse. And, you know, it’s just, it’s like, if you have a Labrador in your life, you’re always gonna have a Labrador. Well, we started to we got to Friesian about 10 years ago, who passed and I just had to have another one. I mean, they’re just such big Luggie friendly animals. So those are our six. We
Bianca Harmon 34:09
just like wine. you’re importing horses, too.
Barry Waitte 34:13
Yeah. And well, especially the Friesians Friesians come from Holland. That’s where they’re kind of born and raised. And the really good ones come out of there. And I just couldn’t find one in the United States, my level of what that horse needed to do at a young age. But I could get that in Holland. And so we put them on a Qatar air freighter. And one morning I went down to LAX and picked them up and brought them home. That’s kind of fun. That’s awesome. Yes. So the other horses here on the property. I have a couple of vintner friends that asked me if I can help take care of the horses. One by goes by the name of rombauer. Many people.
Bianca Harmon 34:55
I actually, yes, know him very well.
Barry Waitte 34:59
You and why they’re in the horses is ransom rombauer, who was the granddaughter of the founder and patriarchs, who’s now passed from a bar. She is a Olympic caliber jumper, Olympic caliber. And we may give it you know, let’s do it, man, everybody knock on wood, cross your fingers. We may see her in the Olympics in Paris. She’s definitely shooting for it. And so we have, we have all her retired horses here. And we also helped some rescue as well. So that gets us up to about 24 25 horses here on the property.
Drew Hendricks 35:31
That was fantastic. Yeah. Yeah.
Barry Waitte 35:34
So when people come here, this is a unique experience. I’d like to suggest when you see in your second case, you’ve seen case, you know, but there’s no one else like this. Come to Tamber Bey and experience. You know, we don’t have horse rides or anything like that. But just to be in this environment,
Drew Hendricks 35:52
to which we are the culture then talked about Tamber Bey, how to Tamber Bey into steam.
Barry Waitte 35:58
Beautiful. So we’re going to stay with horses, right? So when I needed to come up with a name, I couldn’t, I didn’t want to use my name. I wasn’t into that. Quite frankly, I had my venture hat on. I wouldn’t want to sell my name. So I just said, Okay, that’s not gonna work for me. Though. I had no interest in selling the winery, and I really don’t have successes. Grapes. I don’t have any reasons. But anyway, so I can make up a name. And silver up was already taken, so I couldn’t use that. And so one day, I was riding a horse with a friend of mine on one of the vineyards and the horses names were Tamber, Rena, and vedamo. And they’re their bar names for Tamber Bey. She just said, What do you much call it Tamber Bey. And it was like a chill. And wow, that’s a cool name. And it means something and certainly no trademark issues. So that’s where the name came from. And then the horse that you see here is a artist’s rendition of my first horse bay. Amo, who still lives 31 years old. He’s this kind of Santa Cruz, good friend of mine, and he’s just being a horse for retirement. And good for him. He’s in a big old pasture out there. But that’s where Tamber Bey came from. And it’s kind of it just keeps spreading the wind and the horse stuff together. So when we acquired this property 10 years ago, and built the winery here and brought all the horses here, I’d have other horses, you know, we just intertwine this wonderful passion, experiential thing that we invite people to come and participate in. So that’s fantastic.
Drew Hendricks 37:26
Spoken like a true entrepreneur. No trademark issues. Too few people. Yeah. Companies if that’s the qualifier,
Barry Waitte 37:37
yeah, that’s where experienced definitely experienced came into play, you know. So you know, when I started Tamber Bey in 1999 My first release was 150 cases of wise in 2001. I had hired this winemaker from South Carolina, a shy young man, but with high recommendation, and Bianca, Bianca, you might remember or know that person by the name of Michael Chiarello. Having dinner with him, he’s a restaurateur here. And we’re talking about projects. You know, I had my venture hat on. And so the projects What is this? What is he doing? And I said, Wow, I want to make some wine. I got this vineyard, selling fruit to Behringer and dimension don’t like to get a little fruit out there. Make some wine, says Have your winemaker. Spoken like a true Italian. I have your winemaker. And it turned out to be Now one of the best winemakers on the planet name is Thomas rivers Brown. He specializes in small lot productions, small things and that’s where we were certainly. And I learned so much from him. What a great mentor of being in the business, we’re still best friends. And now he makes wine for about 50 wineries. And he taught me to decide you know, you know these high standards again of winemaking, and yet high standards, but you know, his methodology is to be non evasive. You don’t go into a wine and and really trying to manipulate to somewhere but the wine be natural to where it’s going. I’m not suggesting we’re natural wine, because there’s no definition so it’s not good on them. But you know the minimalist winemaking style to let the terroir let the dirt and Mother Nature speak for what it is. And we’re very fortunate we live in Napa Valley. This is one of the best places on the planet that has the kind of terroir for us and border lines just match up. So anyway, I started with 150 cases, silver in a week and my friends and family. So I made 300 The next day, and I made 600 Then I made 900 and in 2007 I was about up to 15 1600 cases of wine. I actually had a distributor in New York. And wife looked at me she went How are you doing? Are you working? Like really? And I tried to deny it at first and I realize Yeah, I actually am working and I I remember saying to her, You know what, honey, I think you’re gonna have a fight left. And I think we should really kind of go after this. And so I wrote a business plan and did that and we exercise it. And he this may be the only business plan that I actually executed to basically 100% whatever we wanted to do. But that’s what happens when it’s your own business. So we specialize in French varietals. That’s all we do. But we do Burgundy’s Bordeaux’s little bit out of the bar and some rounds. We now make 18 different wines for camera Bay. How many cases don’t have 10,000 cases? Oh, wow. Yeah, so branch good size. That’s good size boutique winery. Right. Pretty serious. Now I’ve got, you know, 16 distributors. That said, and Bianca that you’ll get a kick out of this is 90% of our wine is still sold direct individuals. I love it. We’re mostly a b2c shop. And that’s because we love coming to Tamber. To join our club.
Bianca Harmon 41:02
I think selling direct to consumer still to this day is probably one of the best ways to keep your people coming back and keep your regulars and keep your brand image.
Barry Waitte 41:13
Yeah. And if you get into the business model, it’s the stuff that has good gross margins allows us to reinvest into business. Why I’m in distribution at all is purely a marketing play. It’s to me, it’s an A marketing expense. So I want my line showing up in Del Frisco in Texas. That’s where the people go. They see Taamber Bey on the menu, and so forth. And then they come here. And what I also find out is when our customers find wines in restaurants, even though they know they’re paying about twice the price, they went to the wineries they buy, and then they send me pictures. Look what I just found. So So distribution needs to be thoughtful. But for a small winery, not as a moneymaker, because you need volume to be in that game. And then focus on what Bianca specialty is direct to consumer. So but here’s the other side side of this is when I bought this property, we had a barn that was very big. It’s actually an arena 70,000 square foot and I said Thomas, I said I can maybe make half of this into the winery. It’s already got a roof. It’s great. So and then we talked around a little bit longer, and he came back says, I think you need to double that size. Why? And he says because I’m coming in with you. Not financially, not not equity wise, but he is going to help me build a facility that will be attractive to other we’ll call them wine entrepreneurs, small brands, like Tamber Bey was and we will make their wines here. I’ve got so we were packed today one and we are today. So we make wine for 25 other wineries here, half of them are Thomas Brown clients. Another almost half are from a guy named Mike Smith, who lives in St. Halina, who’s a Thomas Brown protege, but on his own has his own 100 points from Robert Parker. And so 80% of my clients here are just from those two ethics at winemakers. And what I love about this is they’re entrepreneurs, right? And yeah, I can actually, I can actually tell you that I have four graduates, meaning they were here, they got big enough, they got bad enough and so forth. And now they have their own facility and the clients there. I just love it. And one of the best ones. I have two that I kind of like to talk about one is the room. It was just great working with their product, but they built the winery kind of over here in Calistoga. So we lost them, but that quickly feel not to worry about me. I’m gonna be okay. But the other one is, there was a new four seasons being built in Calistoga and they’re gonna put a winery inside. This is like eight years ago. And so the thought was, well, they needed to start making wine early so that they can have some library wine. But the good news about that project for us it got delayed like five years. So we had them for almost seven years, seven, eight years. It just opened last year, the four seasons, and they had their own winery so we lost them. But otherwise for their library. We made your Tamber Bey
Bianca Harmon 44:19
to the Four Seasons and go check out that new place.
Barry Waitte 44:23
Yeah, it’s good. The restaurants great called Trash. I mean, it’s a four seat. And I have to tell us toga business person cannot be happier. So we have small hotels only got 80 85 rooms. It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. Yeah, yeah. Good place. Yeah, it’s our customer that goes there, right. Want them kind of got into business.
Drew Hendricks 44:48
That’s fantastic. I love the idea of the winery. You’re running a winery incubator.
Barry Waitte 44:52
Exactly, exactly where it is. And and then we’ve had some people here that have just got into it for a while. Did Are thing and then decided that I’m done. I tried it, I did it. You know, I thought that was gonna be me at Apple. I was only be there a year, but what I thought it was going to be me in the wine business when I first got into it, and it took a particularly long it’s not that I’m not committed personally. But you know, you gotta test stuff. And if it doesn’t work, can out do something else. It’s always something else to do. But when I when I got through that first horse race, that’s 50 Miles 13 plays six and a half hours later. Wow. Okay, I had to really think through Am I gonna continue to do this? Yep, I think so. Because I can I kind of enjoyed it.
Drew Hendricks 45:44
Yes, very, you got quite you’ve got quite the story. And I am, you know, that Tamber Bey. So very got the synergy between the horses and in the wine. And the full experience? Was it it sounds like you’ve intentionally put together this cohesive kind of experience between the two? Or was it just a happenstance,
Barry Waitte 46:11
it was happenstance, I actually Drew to tell you, I was actually wanting to keep them separated in my early career, because I wanted to be considered a serious one. And I thought that if I had a horse on the label, I had a duck on the label, if I had a pig on the label, you know, I’m just not serious. And so I actually tried to keep them separate. But every time I had an opportunity to do something, named the winery, put a logo on there found out there’s a University of Michigan study that I looked at that not just animals, but horses become one of the most recognizable things for brands. Apple Valley now has, I think there’s 13 or 14 brands here that have some representation of a horse. So you’re gonna think, okay, that’s the best strategy, you know, best practices, put an identifiable brand, but then still keep them separate. So I want to be considered a serious winemaker. But when we got to this property, I just gave up all hope. They just came together. And now I have embraced it. But we still, you know, our message is still we’re very serious wine organization. We try to make the best that we do we have the best winemakers working for us. And we talk about vineyards all day long. But you know, from Oakville, you know, we just procured some fruit, this last harvest from Santa Barbara from the Santa Rita hills, because we I think it’s one of the best places for Pinot Noir. So, you know, we were still fighting the battle, so to speak, of making the best that we can, and but it’s what’s the great thing about the wine business? And little bit unlike tech, you know, when you make the Macintosh, what do you do for the Macintosh year after year, he kind of updated and you may be a new format, you know, new skin, things like that. But it’s still Macintosh, we have to make a new wine every single year. And our specialty and this is a really common thread to this thing is we make wine specific for that vintage, right. And I’m not making a wine the same way we did last year, we’re not going to make this a homogenous type of entity. You know, year after year, we’ll let the grocery store guys to get those kinds of wines as big production houses that we want to speak to why every year is unique. And why every year has its positive attributes, which is a great challenge. And it’s kind of a former product marketing person. I just love that. So we did back in and we’re talking right now about what all this rain is doing to our vineyards. How are we going to mitigate that, you know, we love the rain, but going into the wine business, right? We want rain for a while and we don’t want it to rain anymore to start thinking about stress dryness. And we haven’t been in this position for a while we thought this year was gonna go great. And then we went dry for a while now. Right again, different that’s that’s life. Yeah. So content with it. Deal with it. So that’s what we’re going to do. Yeah, very fine.
Drew Hendricks 49:06
Sounds very, very thing. Thank you so much for kind of joining us today. Where can people find out more about you in Tamber Bey.
Barry Waitte 49:15
Best place is our web site. So TamberBey.com Go there. It’ll tell you about the wines that we currently have available. Which, you know, we’re always have about six, seven wines up there. Even though I make 80 wines not all are available. The best way to experience this is come see us. We are in classic design. We are a destination winery. We’d love people to come here. And let us show you around. Let us talk our talk, tell the story. Embrace the wines and we can take you down a red wine path white wine path, a burgundy path and Bordeaux cat or combination of all those. And so that’s the best way to do it. Come and see us but short of that. Look at Tamberbey.com And they’ll get some more information there.
Bianca Harmon 49:59
As I’ll be hitting you up for a tasting Barry,
Barry Waitte 50:04
make sure I am here, aka. I want to give you the VIP. All right. And Drew, you too? We’re gonna see.
Drew Hendricks 50:17
Absolutely. I can’t wait till the next trip up there. Very thank you so much for joining us today. My pleasure. Have a great day. Okay, your
Barry Waitte 50:29
By Bianca. Bye everybody.
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