Growing a Family-Owned Winery in Temecula With Bill Wilson of Wilson Creek Winery  

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Dec 1, 2022

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Last Updated on December 1, 2022 by rise25

Bill Wilson
Growing a Family-Owned Winery in Temecula With Bill Wilson of Wilson Creek Winery   11

Bill Wilson is the CEO of Wilson Creek Winery, located in the heart of Temecula Wine Country. The family business started in 1996 and now owns 90 acres and sells over 75,000 cases of wine each year. It also welcomes more than 1,500 visitors every weekend.

Aside from leading Wilson Creek Winery, Bill serves on several Temecula Valley boards sharing his experiences, such as the 20/20 vision, the Temecula Valley Visitors Bureau, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, and the Temecula Valley Water Board.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Bill Wilson shares how Wilson Creek Winery started over two decades ago 
  • How Wilson Creek Winery sets the tone for hospitality in Temecula
  • The origin story of famous almond champagne
  • Bill describes how they experiment in their winery
  • What Bill did to draw people’s attention
  • How the pandemic helped introduce Wilson Creek Winery to LA customers
  • Where Bill sees Temecula Valley going in the next 10 to 15 years
  • What would Bill have done differently over his two decades in the business?

In this episode with Bill Wilson

How can you launch a winery in a city when people do not even know it exists? It may seem impossible, but there are many ways to make it happen.

It’s one thing to bring a portion of your money to put up a business, but it’s an even bolder move to invest every penny your family has to launch a winery. You must go to great lengths to make it work, and today’s guest proves how he succeeded and thrived in an unmapped city.

In this episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks welcomes Bill Wilson, CEO of Wilson Creek Winery, as he talks about how this family-owned business started over two decades ago. Bill also shares the challenges they faced, the story of the famous almond champagne, and how the pandemic helped them.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

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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.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

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 Thomas Hendricks  0:19  

Drew Thomas Hendricks here, host of Legends Behind the Craft podcast where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. 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. Go to today to learn more. Today, I am super excited to talk with Bill Wilson. Bill is the CEO of Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, California. Welcome to the show, Bill.

Bill Wilson  0:55  

Well, thank you for having me. Pleasure.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  0:58  

Thank you so much for being on. So you know Wilson Creek, it’s it’s just it’s the it’s the pinnacle. And in Temecula, it all began way back in 1996. Let’s say

Bill Wilson  1:11  

you just gave me goosebumps, you know, when we first started this mindset back in 1995, and then put the plans moving forward. 1996, we had no idea that, hey, we’d have this much fun, be reinvest this many dollars and see be this much in debt. But you know, we get paid and happy dollars. But basically, I was not happy with what I was doing. It was in the financial world, following an eccentric millionaire that turned out to be just eccentric. That involved on the financial analyst. And I go to work hating my life. So when that kind of came to a close, I asked my best friend what I should do for a living and he says I know exactly what you’re going to do. There’s a small winery for sale down in Temecula and got some restaurant experience and you guys are probably the nicest family I know. I think we can make make a go out of it. So we came down here I called up first of all to call the parents so what do you think you guys are moving up to solve a when I moved down to Temecula not knowing that they’ve heard it to make and I go, Oh, we love Temecula. We go down there for golf retreats all the time with some of our clients and everything else. Interesting, though, but we don’t have any experience in the wine world. And I said, Well, I used to make rhubarb Dandelion Wine, your bathtub in Minnesota, they said that hardly qualifies us. I said Yeah, but don’t worry. Remember in mergers and acquisition or buying somebody’s business. We’ll know more about that business and six months of due diligence. And that guy knows today, because he’s still stuck in his old ways. And they said, Well, still kind of sounds crazy, but what is the rest of the family thing? So my brother is the, you know, he’s a realist of the family. He’s an ordained minister doing church planting up in Sacramento when I made the phone call and said, you know, if there’s gonna be a deal killer, it’s gonna be him. But here it is. I ran the thing and he’s like, his answer back to me was Jesus first miracle and got over the religious hurdle. Yeah. Yeah, that was a big one. So he says what is our sister think of it and I gosh, she loves Chardonnay she’s living in in Solvang right now. This will be slam dunk. So when I talked to her she was like Temecula Where the hell’s Temecula? You know, we’re gonna do it. Why not Santa Barbara, why not Paso why not? You know, Napa? You know, it’s that’s Temecula. And so she was the deal killer at first, but Temecula are different than 95 Oh, yeah. But, you know, the beauty of Temecula is, you know, we’ve got this little wine country out here we were the 14th Winery. Well, first of all back with a story. The more I wanted to buy the gentleman’s business the more he didn’t want to sell. And in that business, we call it a circle jerk. He just wants people to you know, he’s worth it everything else and we walked in on what’s called a stealth move when you just show up to see if you know it’s really as busy as he says and businesses good. He’s he says, and he had his arm around to beautiful blondes at four o’clock in the afternoon after having a couple of glasses of Chardonnay. And he has the Wilsons are here. Like right over my dad and I said he’s never sewing. And sure enough, he didn’t. He’s responsible for five other wineries being started here because it came out to buy his funny and he finally sold and regretted it the day did. So anyway, make a long story short
Um, you know, we did some research on Temecula. And, you know, it’s, there’s 25 million people within an hour and a half drive of this location. And at the time, 24 million people had no idea to make it even existed. You know, we had bumper stickers, it says Where the hell is Temecula. And so now after spending millions and millions of dollars and being involved in media campaigns who visit Temecula Valley and the Wine Growers Association, everything, I’m still proud to say that only 22 million people still have no idea Temecula exist. Or they think that we’re that old school, small, you know, mom and pop but you know, we came out as the 14th Winery and, and kind of proved that knuckleheads are people in the business that had no I had no reason for being in the business can make a go of it with during the research as anybody that might think about being in the wine business, the research pour out that there’s three components in the wine industry, you got to grow the grapes, which is biology, you got to them, once they’re grown, you got to pick them and, and make it into wine, which is chemistry completely different from biology. And then once it’s in the bottle, now you got to sell it and market it, which is completely different from biology and chemistry. It’s called Marketing and, and the research says if you try to do two out of the three, you will screw up one of the two, if not all three. So I’m like, Well, I don’t know how to grow grapes. But you know, it’s it’s in my blood as a farming. over the generations. My grandfather had a farm in Iowa. I don’t know how to make wine. But you know, I’m sure willing to learn. But I know how to make people feel warm and welcome and, and comfortable. And so, you know, in part of our research, in working with other winemakers, they’re very shy and very not wanting to speak to anybody. And I’m like, Okay, I know where I’m going to shine, I know what I’m going to do different. I’m going to be approachable, I’m going to be out there I’m going to be in front of the people. So our concept was eight family members one Girl Friday and and have a contract vineyard manager and a contract winemaker until I got my legs underneath me. And now I’ve got 274 Girls Fridays and eight family members. So you know, that’s kind of crazy. The growth, you know, that we we hit. As you well know, growth can kill you. And our biggest problem is we’re too busy. We’re out of space. We don’t have enough wine. And you know, you try to forecast three years out and you miss it. In two, it’s it’s been a absolute joy. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And it’s frustrating and all at the same time. You know, it’s been cool. Absolutely. Yeah.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  8:00  

He touched upon the hospitality part about it. And at the time, like going back to 95, I was selling wine up in San Francisco back in 95. And we and it was we hadn’t really even heard of Temecula even though I grew up in I grew up in San Diego and my family was from my parents family are from Ontario area. And they used to go hunting down in Vail Lake back when it was still private land. So we kind of just knew it is just another area and it was I was so surprised to learn Temecula 95 becoming in there with that hospitality thing. It really you guys set the tone because Temecula has a much different vibe than say Paso or Napa or Sonoma. And there is that hospitality driven vibe.

Bill Wilson  8:45  

Yeah, when we came out here because we’re in hospitality because, you know, we threw parties in high school with our parents and attendance, you know, we through to a year, we charge three bucks for the kegs. And you know, my parents would probably be in jail today if we did the same thing. But you know, the 70s were a little bit different. And early 80s So, you know, parlay that into the 90s and you know, this was there’s 13 other wineries are kind of sleepy, they’re retired school teachers or otherwise coming out here. Callaway was by far the biggest and it was owned by Ely Callaway. And and but nobody was doing the let’s make wine fun. Let’s take in let’s take it off the Snop shelf so to speak is really as you were well aware back to the 90s it’s oh you know,

Drew Thomas Hendricks  9:42  

this kind of shocked the world with the almond champagne.

Bill Wilson  9:46  

We did and and but that was very popular back in the 60s. It just went away. They brought it back and we brought it back and and they just kind of went wow that hit us. You know, again, it’s a wonderful thing. And so great story how that was that that whole product came about. But if you want me to go into it, I can.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  10:12  

But I would actually love to hear the story on that. Well,

Bill Wilson  10:15  

this is my version, okay. But it has their version, my version is, when we were getting ready to open it, it took us far longer to get open than we thought we were going to have a grand opening as the y2k New Year’s Eve party. So in working with some of the other wineries, they tell you, you know where to go get your sparkling wine is from up north and slap a label on it, and it’s all good. You can have it for your weddings and events, no big deal. You won’t make any money off of selling at retail, because, you know, it just is what it is. I’m like, Okay, well, we went up there and and called up there and said, Could you send us some samples? They sent us some samples. And yeah, my wife is like, nothing really sounds appealing to me. So call them up against and send some more samples, you know, and, and again, she just was, well, if I have to choose, I’ll choose this one. So she chose that one. We had our y2k Party 125 people showed up. We were amazed. We weren’t even open. It was a warehouse. It was just it was funny. It was kind of like you look back on it now. And I giggle. But about three months later, you know, two, three months later, my wife goes, Did you really ask them if they had something different and unique that nobody else had? And I said, I sure did, as any good husband would? I said, Do you want me to call up and ask right in front of you? And she goes absolutely, as any good wife would. And so I called up and say Hi, Lisa is Bill. Do you have it? I’m staring at my wife. Do you have anything that is totally unique that nobody else has? And she says, Yes, we’re working on this new product. And my jaw dropped, my eyes went off. And like I gotta eat my words now. And she goes got this thing called almond dodge. And it’s was popular in the 60s. So we’ll send me some samples. And so she sent me some samples. And Hey, Mikey, she liked it. You know, I was like, wow, she goes, this is unique and different. I’m like, okay, yeah, I guess it is. So I said, you know, so we went around creating a label. And I said, Why don’t you send me 10 cases that should get us through until TTB approves their new label. Because we are hardly open or just just neophytes in this whole thing. And the 10 cases came down Friday at noon. Friday at three sorry. And by noon on Saturday, the 10 cases were gone. Employees were grabbing family was grabbed me was grabbing him. I’m like, Oh my God, what’s happening here. So we ordered a whole pallet 55 cases now for a small winery that was only going to do 1000 cases a year, the first year 55 cases is you know, 5%. Okay, production gone in a week. And then we went wow. And it just had a generic label on it. So once we put our own label on it, we went out to a couple of tasting events. And, you know, I’m kind of not knowing new to the world. And I got all the Giants around me. And I’m pouring this crazy almond champagne. It was being able to call it the time. Yeah, nobody’s in front of me, right. Nobody’s there. I’m having to like, get people to come tase me. At the end of the event, I had a line out my my plate and nobody had anybody at theirs. And that’s been kind of the way it’s gone for years and years. Every time we go someplace that doesn’t know it. And we start tasting it. People come over, I Now apologize to the people to my left and to the rights and hey, I apologize for what’s about to happen. They’re going to ask you if you have the Armand champagne. And sure enough, this one guy, I checked in 10 cases to this one event. The guy looks at me, he goes I have done this for the last 10 years of my life. And I’ve never gone through more than a case case and a half Max. I said well, I just didn’t want to run out. Sure enough, man. My wife was out and he was pissed. He left in the middle of about 230 He does left and does here just for these out this lab. That’s was the start of it. We like we got some crazier and we really do.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  14:42  

It’s a little bit of that irreverence that was just making wine fun. And it was almost a little bit ahead of way ahead of its time like now we’re starting to see a lot of a lot of experimentation and correct in wine and different blending with different fruits and different different types. Have fermentations Yeah, yes, you guys were one of the first that I remember doing.

Bill Wilson  15:05  

Oh, yeah. By far. And then, you know, you always we were being asked to create other flavors or put it this way other wineries were trying to find the next home and champagne. And, you know, my sales director was like, we need to add more to our that. I said, No, I don’t want to take away the momentum from the almond. Until finally, okay, we added the peach and the orange. And now we’ve got six different flavors and also the same a coconut. Yeah, we have a coconut Nui that started because we were going to do some distribution in Tahiti and found out that there was a 256%, tax two out of France and out of Polynesia, tariffs. So but if you make something with their own product, then you can bypass that. So it was kind of the coconut extract from Tahiti and we made a vanilla as well. And you know, I’m like, What am I doing this for? There’s 16,000 People in Tahiti and next next to nothing, but that was enamored with Tahiti at the time, so it was fun. But anyway, you know, all these other flavor, not flavor companies, but all the alcohol companies were going with flavor. vodkas, flavor. McCarty’s now flavored whiskies you know, everybody’s in the flavor game, then White claw comes out, you know, we’re, we were ahead of the curve, and now we’re getting trounced by white claw people, but you know, it is what it is.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  16:40  

Yeah, it really came as a wave about three four years ago and it’s

Bill Wilson  16:45  

it’s this was one of those disruptors is like what’s white claw and you got guys drinking white clay you kind of got to do the head tilt not just a chip drink so same thing with the almond champagne, as you know, guys drink it, they like it. And, and even some of the red wine drinkers going in for for what it is. It’s not bad. You know, I prefer to drink red but in a celebratory situation, you know, and I have to drink champagne you know, why not? So it’s it was crossed genres it crossed. palate, you know, likes and dislikes. So it’s, it’s, it’s really helped get a lot of people started in wine that otherwise wouldn’t. And we get a lot of people out in Temecula that have never done wine tasting before. And we don’t care where you are on the wine spectrum, whether it’s Boone’s Farm strawberry hills, where you we all started back in the day and or whether it’s Chateau neuf, Depop, wherever you are on that spectrum, it’s okay. And in the wine spectrum, everybody’s trying or you know, just gravitating to the next level. As our appreciation line gets more and more you learn more and more as you learn more and more, you go higher and higher on the on the on the scale. You know, once you have a good Cabernet, it’s hard to go back to a mellow, mellow once you get a good Pinot, it’s hard to go back what’s good, a good piece, right? And so, we just want people to jump on, on that wagon, and we’ll educate and train and teach all the way up to you know, the upper upper tier and the pinnacles of Warren

Drew Thomas Hendricks  18:28  

Yeah, some of your operating options are phenomenal. And doing a great job there. Like 95 When no one knew or Temecula was how did you get people in the tasting room? How did you how did you launch it?

Bill Wilson  18:42  

Well, we we launched it by going out to every every wine tasting every charity event. We were your we were your wine sponsor, we were you know what, whoever we could pour wine to, and said, Come visit us, you know, come visit us come visit us. And then when people did, we just loved on him. You know, it’s like, he just come in and we say we don’t just say hi, welcome. Thank you for coming. You’re saving my life. You know, it’s a big difference when you got 100% of every penny your family has invested in this. We’re not make the difference between us and 95. And everybody else even to this day is you know, they all made millions or their lawyer millions and and then they then they now spend for their ego a winery. Well, we did this as a family being able to live together, work together and be be closer to each other. And we had four generations at one point living on the property and now we just have three It’s just pretty cool. You know, and I get to work with my brother and my sisters around. My wife is right here. Good news, you work with family, bad news, you work with family, but we just we just went every single weekend, we’re out pouring wine at the various events up and down the coast and in San Diego specifically, and then broad based over to Orange County. And, and then, you know, where there was some business out here, there was some, you know, people coming out wine tasting, and we just hope to get them. And when they came, they went back and they told their friends and so on and so forth. And the rest is history. It’s and you know, with this whole, you know, fast forward to the pandemic, la discovered us in the pandemic, before we were not known by La all that. Yeah, well, LA was locked down, and we were not, yes. And they came out here it was an hour and 15 minute drive from LA no traffic, because nobody was on there. And they came out and they go, this was stick. This is amazing. And like, yeah, and they went back and told their friends to where it became in 2021 We were so just being overrun. We had an hour wait just to get in the property. And you know, because we have no place for anybody. Yeah, alone six foot separation. We sat records and and that was good. But the back it was just, it was just too much. Now it’s kinda with the $6.50 of gas and so people are on the road. It’s calmed down to where it’s not quite as crazy but we’ve also built more space we’ve have Outdoors we have indoors we’ve got to sit down we’ve got the private libraries are obtained. We have something for everybody. You know, people say you can’t have something for everybody and, and be successful. I said, we have something for everybody. But this is where the bulk of the businesses we know that but we have something for everybody. People come out. Come on up and take some five year old teeth straw and five year old calves. And yeah, you to understand that. Hey, we make some pretty Gosh, darn good still wine not just the flavored fufu wines.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  22:23  

Yeah, yeah. boots on the ground is the common theme on wineries that have actually risen to a level of your stature and your production level. I remember talking to Michael Hoolahan from barefoot and how he was able to build it was just pounding the pavement getting in getting the placements

Bill Wilson  22:44  

Yeah, and with almond champagne. Nobody knows what that that is. Is it made from almonds? Is it not you know, almond milk is out there. So is this almonds what is not? And so it’s so unique and so bizarre that we knew we had to get it on somebody’s lip we call it liquid on lips lol How many how many lips do we get liquid on and introduced for the first time? Obviously, you know we’ve we’ve been around to Mecca so we don’t even we hardly do anything here in Temecula anymore of all the charities other than what’s what’s on our property, but we go to, you know, San Diego, Orange County la Wine Fest and you know, Riverside and all this good stuff. Another thing is we do weddings and weddings. Were another avenue that nobody was doing weddings in White country and yeah, we we knew that a bride’s asking 150 of her closest friends to come, come and 125 of them never been to Temecula. Never heard of Temecula. And they come out here and they go, Wow, I had no idea. This is a real wine country. I’m gonna go back and talk to Uncle Steve and and Aunt Rose and we’re gonna come out wine tasting. We’re gonna come to dinner and lunch. And that’s what they did. So it’s, it’s been a true true grassroots effort on on all fronts.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  24:11  

Yeah, that’s a great, great vision on corporate weddings. You know, the bride and groom are gonna always remember their wedding day and they’re gonna pass down that story. Yeah.

Bill Wilson  24:20  

Well, they come back. They come back with a little Bambino and say this is your fault, you know. And we’re an integral part of their lives. We have one couple are very first couple. They got married here and comes back every June 2, and has lunch here and we cheers every you know, every time and say, you know, here’s to another year it’s it’s amazing. And, you know, I tell all the brides I go you’re and my, you know, we’re simpatico here. And she looks like oh, you want every one of your 150 guests to walk away going, oh my god, that was one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to the food was awesome. The wine was great. Lily is wonderful. I want the same thing because they’re gonna go back and tell their friends. Oh my god, I was just at a wedding The food was was great, the wine was fabulous. And the setting is awesome and come back and support us. And she went, you’re right, I go, you don’t get that even at the Ritz Carlton. You know, we want you to continue to buy our product on the shelf. We want to continue to have you part of our wine club. We want you to continue to be part of us not just come spend room night with us.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  25:28  

So a lot of that a lot of that’s really, I guess, dependent not pennant. But Temecula is business structures really in the codes and laws have really been able favorable for you to grow in this hospitality sector versus like nappy can’t even order a glass of wine at the winery. Getting there? Yeah, it’s very hard to make it a hospitality type of visit. But it works for

Bill Wilson  25:52  

them too. You know, if, you know, they didn’t need to attract the hospitality and they have it within the city. So it’s there. It’s just not at those outlying wineries, otherwise, it would be chaos, that many wineries up there, I get why they they put a moratorium on all of that grandfathered the beasts to ease of the world that have you know, one of the best picnic gardens ever, you know, that’s absolutely fantastic. But you know, here that’s what we’re able to compete on. giving them something all in one package, you can come here and have beautiful lunch have wine tasting, and you know, spend the night across the street in a hotel, you know, it’s it’s, it’s again, it’s got more to just come in wine tasting. Sure. And it was protected. As you said, back in 1984, they put a whole Morton, I won’t say more touring, I’ll say they put a restrictions on building homes, because Temecula was just growing so rapidly in the home sector that they had to protect wine country. And people were ripping up 100 acre vineyards and, and putting 20 home sights on it. And so we further revise that and continue to revise that, to make sure that you know, if you are doing weddings and events and restaurants and all that, that you have a sizable enough property to absorb the parking and to house the people and still grow 75% of your property planted in vineyards. Because this is a whole vineyards first mindset. Yeah. And so people push the envelope, I get it. But you know, for the most part, you got to grow, grow the grapes, make the wine, then you can do all the other stuff. Maybe the destination,

Drew Thomas Hendricks  27:45  

and one of the last 22 years, it’s changed dramatically. What um, where do you see the Temecula Valley going in the next 1015 years? I know that. I know. There’s just there’s a tremendous amount of traffic right now.

Bill Wilson  28:01  

Oh, I see it becoming more legitimized and a little bit more respected. Whether I, you know, was part of the Oh, you’re just a woman, champagne party, wine country. To Hey, no, we’ve always made world class wines. It’s just some of the wineries out here didn’t you know, but right now, what’s happening is some of the bigger guys, us included are like, Okay, we want to be up in into that. 95 point. 100 point, reds. And to get there we have to spend money, not just on our hospitality, but on our wine production or grape growing and so we specifically Wilson Creek have one of the best vineyard viticulturist in Greg pennyroyal. He’s plant agronomy researcher coming from some really high end. And he’s like, Well, vineyards are somewhat simplistic. You know, as far as a plant goes, I’m like, Okay, well, that get us some better fruit. And it came back and says, you know, they’re not as simplistic as you think they are. There’s all sorts of dynamics to it and the soil and everything else. I know. But he’s gone into this whole path of regenerative agriculture, where sustainability is not enough. Everybody’s talking about sustainability. But if you want to sustain an airplane nosedive, no, you want to reclaim out you don’t want to just sustain a negative void of nutrients and bio sphere and micro organisms. So he’s, he’s gone on a on a bet with that. And it’s turning into better grapes and then my winemaker, I’ve given him him the tools to make better wine and you know, better equipment, better barrels better everything to make that better wine. And it’s hard, it’s hard to pump that much money back into the business every year. As you know, you grow and you make more you need more equipment, you buy more equipment, it’s constantly putting money back into this business. And I went to my account, I said, What am I going to start making some money? And he goes when you stop growing, or you sell and like, well, not sure that’s gonna happen. You know, just knowing that, you know, we’ve we’ve brought in our executive coaches and our family coaches to help us you know, better formulate a real strategy and not just be a hobby business that, you know, we’re a multi million dollar business are set 75,000 cases a year. Yeah. And plus, plus, so it’s a real deal. And with 274 employees, I better have all of it arranged, I’ve got, you know, seven direct reports and, and the exact thing that I was kind of getting away from is turning circle back and, you know, here I am as CEO 274 Children, right. But it’s again, I got great people and that’s what makes Wilson Creek. What it is, is, you know, from my parents down to our janitorial service and dishwashers, everybody in between. We are the twinkle in the eye. I can teach you everything else I can teach you to be happy and positive and upbeat.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  31:45  

team effort talking about pinnate culture for a second because the touring through touring through Temecula over the last 1015 years there’s a ton of experimenting going on. You can’t really going from winery, the winery, even within the wineries there’s 22 Different seems like 22 different varietals and sure whereas you go to other regions they’ve figured out Napa cabernet Chardonnay, go over here Zinfandel. Have you um, where do you see, Temecula? Is microclimate settling in as far as varietals.

Bill Wilson  32:13  

Very, very interesting. You know, we back in 96 You know, they came up with the Rhone rangers and all that, and we’re pretty much down on that same grown parallel as far as weather related in the Mediterranean climate, which, you know, you ask any, there’s 50 wineries out here right now. Probably 50 to 50 for whatever you ask those 50 winemakers and viticulturists what grows best here and they’ll each come up with a different one. And so we have a climate that is conducive to growing all sorts of different ones. Okay, so that is an edge that I you take a negative that we haven’t come up with our grapes so to speak, you know, we’re not I’m not sitting here saying that we can grow the best Cabernet and we’re going to go up against the the the nap bytes of the world. Why put your head against the wall? We’re gonna make a great cab, but you know, it’s not going to be Screaming Eagle. Okay, I’m not do solution to that. But at the same time our petite Suraj ambulance, or vo NE is world class. You know, so some of the off rivals that nobody’s heard of, unfortunately. It it’s all about the ABCs you know, anything but Cabernet and Chardonnay, but they always buy Cabernet and Chardonnay. So you got to have Cabernet and Chardonnay otherwise broke. But you have all these other things and what this area force people to do is come out and taste some of these varietals that are fairly inexpensive and try some of the different wines that they otherwise wouldn’t try and are able to try when they go to Napa. You got Chardonnay, you got Cabernet, Syria, you know, and then the red ale you got this block and you got this vineyard and you got this one and Oh, this one is a blend of threes. You know like I’m tasting Cabernet, right? So what I see is over time, Temecula will come into that hey we have this Mediterranean climate we don’t have to worry as much about Frost you know we’ve got this great soil here as long as we nurture it and take care of it and don’t strip it of all its stuff by disking and everything should the regenerative agriculture and we got the rainbow gap that brings us breeze and we got the desert that pulls in all this cool moist air at night. You know we have a 30 and 40 degree differential differential between 100 degree day In a 65 degree night, and grapes, love that. So we’re growing, you know, all sorts of different grapes that are fantastic. And so I think I think that’s a plan for success versus a negative. So that’s just me. I like that

Drew Thomas Hendricks  35:18  

answer. I really liked the answer. I think that fits the, for lack of a better word, the Temecula vibe, were boundaries and just doing what’s fun and feels right.

Bill Wilson  35:28  

Yeah. And you know, we can all play out what we feel is our favorite wine. My wine by far our favorite is Petite Surat, the inky stinky you know, it’s not for everybody. I have a nap. I hate that I only drinks Napa cabs and you know, he’s like, tea straw again, like, yeah, try this one. He just won’t like it ever. So that’s fine. But I do like the different wines that we can grow and everybody else grows out of your Sangiovese you grow as well here, Barbera temper, new ally, temper Neos from the valley. And all these different wines that nobody’s ever heard of. I never heard of before I got into this business, you know, you only hear of Cabernet Chardonnay and mirlo gets, you know, screwed over by the movie. Sideways. Oh, yeah. The death row and the rise of Pino from one damn movie. Yeah,

Drew Thomas Hendricks  36:25  

it’s amazing. So 22 years into it are a little more hindsight being 2020 What would you have done differently?

Bill Wilson  36:39  

I don’t know if I would have done anything differently. Because, you know, knowing now I would have built it bigger earlier. But, you know, again, go back to 96. The numbers didn’t didn’t make it that way. You know, now people like South Coast are coming in with you know, and the new one down the road. Bolero. You know, they’re spending $65 million, you know, like $65 million. And I’m not sure I’ve got the friends and relatives and anybody else that’s willing to give me $65 million. So but yeah, he was one that have developed miraculous. So he’s made a lot of people millionaires out of out of growing Temecula and Marietta to what it is today. So he was able to go to his bank and raise $65 million. A lot of that was potential EB five money, which is money out of China and that dried up. So that’s why it took him so long to get it off the ground because he was going to build the big or he wasn’t going to build at all.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  37:51  

I am surprised that some of the size of some of those wineries last time I drove through there. It’s

Bill Wilson  37:57  

not so operations, no one and I’m just shaking my head going okay. And either way, I sit back sometimes I sit back and you know, somebody just this weekend, I was sitting upstairs and they go look at this. Did you ever think that it would be like this? I go hell no. I had no idea. I just it just happened and and by sheer need and demand is we did this and and it was it again tingles and in the arm. It still is. It’s still, I’m mind boggled and blown away at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and doing it with people we love to do it with. And that’s the key is, you know, I love my employees. I love my guests. And it’s a lot of fun to do what we do. As I said, we don’t get paid happy dollars, I get paid the big bucks. But you know, maybe my kids someday we’ll be able to sell it and take it over but I sure do get paid and in good happy dollars and a lot of good hugs and, you know, don’t get me wrong and paying the bills. You know, put my kids to college, you know, I’m doing okay, trust me, I’m doing fine. But you know, I got friends that are making gobs more money than me working way less. Oh, well, but they’re not having as much fun as I’m having.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  39:24  

Oh, absolutely. And in the pre show we talked about kind of how you need to lead with your heart and I think that’s what really is been the key to Wilson Creek success. Money many came but it was the heart.

Bill Wilson  39:36  

Yeah, I was asked by a guy that you know what’s what to come up with a quote for you know, quote book that the guy wrote. That quote I came up with you got to follow your heart. If you follow your pocketbook, you’ll walk backwards. You follow your heart, your wallet will follow. And I had a mentor back when I was 20 something years old church figure out what the hell I was gonna do. He said, If I gave you this is back then dollars. So like in today, anybody out there? If I guaranteed you a million dollars a year, and you can do anything on this planet, anything you wanted to do, what would it be? million dollars a year? What would it be guarantee? Is it rafting? Is it fishing? Is it writing stories is a podcast. If you love doing it, you will make that million dollars. Do that. Don’t, don’t, don’t do what you don’t love to do. I can tell you love doing this. I can tell you love it. And when you love it, people gravitate to that. And when you have fun, they have fun. As long as you know you, you’re gonna work on this, you’re gonna manipulate it, you’re gonna take it, you’re not just gonna put it out there, you know? Because you love it. So that’s exactly my my thing to everybody else. Do what you love to do. And let let your pocketbook follow your heart.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  41:05  

That is a great quote. I think I think that have to say anything more after that. Where can people find out more about Wilson Creek and your yourself?

Bill Wilson  41:15 Very simple. We have a great website, come out and visit us. You know, we’re just off the freeway seven miles off the freeway, it’s easy access, come out and see for yourself what we’ve built here and, and the energy that that is here. The love and the compassion and the heart and the positivity that is here is it’s amazing. It’s contagious. That people come in go there’s different there’s a different vibe here. Can’t Sure, put your finger on it. They say Bill, what is it? And I said I don’t want to figure it out. I don’t want people to know, you know, can’t get you can’t give Him your heart. Right you know. So the secret to success is just continue to love what you do. And let everything else fall into place. Great. Great advice. Bill. Thank

Drew Thomas Hendricks  42:06  

you so much for joining us today.

Bill Wilson  42:07  

Thank you drew. It’s been fun. Appreciate it anytime. Please come out and visit it will let me know when you do this time.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  42:15  

Oh, I will. I will I want secret shopping.

Bill Wilson  42:18  

Hey, love it. Love it. If you do I want to know so if anybody wants a secret shopping call me. There you go. Well, it’s great. Sounds good, you guys. Thank you, Bill.

Outro  42:35  

Thanks for listening to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.