Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by rise25
Diana Hawkins is the Owner and General Manager of Pope Valley Winery. She earned her agricultural business degree from CSU, Chico and moved back to Pope Valley, where she started as an Office Assistant at Pope Valley Winery. Today, Diana handles all of the winery’s day-to-day management. Aside from leading the team, she also serves as a member of Eakle Vineyard Management and General Manager for Eakle Construction and Trucking.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Diana Hawkins shares the secret to getting people to visit Pope Valley Winery
- The Pope Valley terroir and climate
- Diana explains why consistency in marketing is crucial for wineries
- Why listening to and learning from your customers is essential
- What Diana could have done differently in the early days of business
- The importance of having soul, grit, and authenticity
In this episode with Diana Hawkins
How do you develop a winery and take it to the next level?
For Diana Hawkins, the solution was cultivating what grows well based on the unique climate of Pope Valley. Instead of fighting Mother Nature, Diana and the Pope Valley Winery team highlight the terroir of the region in order to bring one-of-a-kind, boutique wines to consumers.
In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Diana Hawkins, Owner and General Manager of Pope Valley Winery. Diana shares what it’s like owning a winery in Napa’s last frontier. She also gives her advice to other small wineries and highlights the importance of listening to your customers.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Barrels Ahead
- Drew Thomas Hendricks on LinkedIn
- Bianca Harmon on LinkedIn
- Diana Hawkins on LinkedIn
- Pope Valley Winery
- Pope Valley Winery on Instagram
- Pope Valley Winery on Facebook
- Eakle Vineyard Management
- Eakle Construction and Trucking
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 Thomas Hendricks 0:19
Drew Thomas Hendricks here on the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. On the show, we talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Today’s show 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 the revenue. Go to barrelsahead.com today to learn more. Bianca Harmon our DTC strategist of Barrels Ahead is joining us again today. How’s it going Bianca?
Bianca Harmon 0:54
It’s going good Drew. I looking forward to talking to Diana today.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 0:57
Yes, yes, I am super excited to talk with Diana Hawkins. Diana is the owner and general manager of Pope Valley Winery. Welcome to the show, Diana.
Diana Hawkins 1:06
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. A little bit about me is we’re a small family winery in the northeast corner of Napa about as far north as you can get kind of a hillside Valley. I am third generation from here in Pope Valley and from Napa
Drew Thomas Hendricks 1:23
so thank you and oh, so Pope Valley so it’s it’s kind of the unknown area of Napa.
Diana Hawkins 1:30
It is we call it napa’s last frontier because there is pretty much just vineyard and farmland, a few houses, but it’s kind of napas last undeveloped area. And we’re actually hillside Valley nestled hillside Valley so we’re higher elevation than saline valley floor, but lower than how a mountain so you kind of go up whole mountain and then dropped down into like the secret little hidden valley.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 1:54
Oh, that sounds sounds fantastic. Now how many wineries are in the Pope Valley area?
Diana Hawkins 1:58
We are one of the original wineries. We’re actually one of the oldest in Napa, dating back to 1897. There are a few wineries and vineyards. So there’s vineyards that have labels but don’t actually produce their wine here. So there’s about three, I want to say input Valley, when you get into Child’s Valley, you get a few more such as Russ Ridge, Michelini, green and red and maxvill. We are one of the only ones with an open tasting room.
Bianca Harmon 2:26
All right, yeah. I was just gonna say so how do you get people out there then? You know, what is?
Diana Hawkins 2:33
What is the secret to getting people to come out to Pope Valley. We’re still working on that. But consistency, um, a lot of social media, especially for family wineries, where our marketing budgets a lot smaller, it’s a lot of creativity. So doing events that are different and finding our place within the wine industry say because Napa Valley has so many amazing experiences. It’s kind of how does this family fit in and we’re kind of people get to bring picnics here. We have hiking trails, we do horseback riding, we do in depth vineyard tours, and we kind of have more of that old school field. So when you think of Napa, how it all started, you get to come here and experience that and really see the history we have the original three storey gravity flow winery on site, along with the farmhouse, the original homestead and an intact blacksmith shop. So really offering that unique look back and how Napa all started.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 3:30
That’s amazing. So you’re right now you’re in the old fermentation room, which is in the second story.
Diana Hawkins 3:35
So we’re in the second story right now. And this is where they would bring all the grapes by it was all gravity flow. So they would go up to the very third story, the original waste scale and CrashPad they would crush all the grapes go down a chute to big Redwood tanks, and it would ferment here, we still do small lot fermentation up here, just because being a natural winery built into the hillside. Getting through fermentation with a warmer temperatures, we utilize what we have and it’s naturally warmer up here. So we’ll bring small that and do like just small fermentation up here as well.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 4:09
That’s amazing. Now did you grow up at this winery?
Diana Hawkins 4:12
My family purchased the winery in the late 90s. But I did grow up input Valley and I actually was here quite a bit as a little girl. I remember running through the caves down below us. I used to think that all the sparkles on the wall were fairies, when in reality, they’re slugs, but it’s a five year old me. And I remember being here for harvest and functions and then I grew up in high school working here. So the one thing I will say is it’s very unique to have a winery and work from the bottom up. Like as a teenager. I remember doing pump overs hauling grapes here. I grew up on the development side. So I grew up on a tractor ripping and disking and doing that farming aspect of job sites. And then even being on the production side. I worked in the tasting room and call He and I actually launched our wine club here when I was right out of college.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 5:04
So that’s, that’s amazing. So how grew up from growing up? How have you seen this winery evolve from before your family owned it to now?
Diana Hawkins 5:12
Well, there was barely operational before my family owned it, they were just doing enough wine to keep their bond open. It was kind of like a ghost winery. And when my family my dad, my uncle’s bought it with some partners, and it was kind of what I call the farmer mentality, grow it, crush it, make it wine and people will come. Whereas when my brother came on board, we really wanted to focus on the wine and our passion for making amazing bowtique wine that has depth and dimension, and really highlighting the terroir here in poor Valley because it is so unique, and even other areas because as a vineyard manage management company as well, we get to source from little small vineyards that maybe aren’t well known, but they’re like these hidden gems that you get to really pick and highlight. So that was kind of our take on it going from that farming aspect of hey, let’s just grow the grapes. And we’ll make wine to really focusing on the wine itself in conjunction with the farming.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 6:07
Oh, yeah. So to those people that may not be familiar with the Pope Valley terroir, what sets put belly apart.
Diana Hawkins 6:15
We are a higher elevation than the valley floor. But we also have the hottest summers and the coldest winters and the biggest temperature fluctuations. So we get super hot during the days, like we’ll probably hit will easily hit triple digits here today, maybe even 108. And we’ll drop really cold at night. So you get that big temperature flux. Through output Valley. There’s a lot of different soil types. But we do have heavier soil types a lot of clay in certain areas. We are naturally a red growing region. We do grow Sauvignon Blanc really, really well. But Chardonnays I still say this is not the area to grow them a few people have tried. Chenin Blanc also does really well here. But there’s I think one or two small vineyards have it still left. So Well, that’s good.
Bianca Harmon 7:00
You’re not trying to push something that you know doesn’t go exactly Oh, well, there’s the that tends to be a problem with wineries and areas they like, feel like they have to grow this or do this. And it’s like, why just do what you’re good at?
Diana Hawkins 7:15
Yeah, I mean, that’s kind of what we try to do is grow what we know, we’re not going to fight Mother Nature, we’re going to amplify it and grow what grows? Well, this last year, we actually did a really fun project with our r&d department, we pulled out two of our rows, and we’re doing a blending block with different heat tolerant and drought resistant varietals to see what grows the best in this region. And kind of what blends we can come from it. And rather than just going and saying we’re gonna go with this bridle, we’re gonna do take our time and really spend the money on the r&d to see what we can what’s going to work for us in the marketplace, too. So
Drew Thomas Hendricks 7:51
that’s smart. I mean, it’s so smart to like take that step back a little bit sometimes. Especially, you know, as the evolving climates and different droughts. It’s what worked 40 years ago may not work anymore. Yes. And so you talk about, really, you hinted at something and we’re gonna I want to jump right to that. You talked about the vineyard management company. In the pre show, you’re talking about how you’re actually pretty much vertically integrated where you you’re also running a vineyard management company, and trucking company,
Diana Hawkins 8:21
I believe, yeah, we have a general engineering contracting company that does heavy development, including trucking, so we do haul grapes as well. We have a class A commercial division. We do everything from really large rock projects for well known vineyard such as like up on Atlas peak and areas like that, where we bring the rock out of the ground through blasting or hammering with large scale excavators and big, you know, dozers and such and crushed the rock. We also farm so we have the vineyard management, especially out here in Polk valley where we’re a little bit farther off the beaten path and allows us to kind of contiguously farm areas next to us. And know this area. We also farm up on Atlas peak and a few other places in Napa. So the vineyard management was born out of necessity being out here, we wanted to really control all aspects of our wine and the wine coming here to the winery and was 65 acres planted on our main ranch or eco ranch. How do we have that consistency in labor and what you put into the vineyard is what you’re gonna get out in the bottle. It all starts there. So by creating our own vineyard management company, we have that control to really have great labor forces. And then we’ve been able to extend that throughout the valley and even into Napa and Sonoma. And then the general engineering contractors how it all started. That was what my dad and my uncles, they started ripping and building ponds and reservoirs in the Canaris region, drain line. Concrete we do engineer projects, we work with a lot of engineers throughout the valley doing reservoirs, concrete pads, just pretty much everything that is needed from the commercial out Specht, not just the agricultural aspect to go into winemaking wineries, and vineyard development. And with a vineyard management, it’s just a one stop shop. So when our clients call us just like we like having one person to go to, they get a full team to do everything. So there’s not time wasted or not having to call a building contractor. We can do your remodels all the way through from beginning to end, along with, you know, doing your vineyard work, or your heavy development, and so many have overlaps within this industry. It’s not just all this little piece of Ag, it spills into commercial as well. Well, that is such a
Drew Thomas Hendricks 10:35
powerful combination for it. Are you talking about a family a winner, but then you really got all the you got all this stuff right there in house to be able to pretty much do whatever you want to do.
Diana Hawkins 10:47
Yeah, it makes it a lot easier being off the beaten path and a small winery. So um, you know, when we’re slow sometimes like during COVID, we ended up reporting part of our CrashPad because we had the concrete guys here, and we’re like, Okay, we have time, let’s knock this out. So for us as a small family winery, it really does make this dynamic.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 11:06
Oh, yeah, for sure. So let’s talk let’s talk a little bit about the the marketing of your winery, you talking about the experiences, and what, especially over the last 10 years with just the larger and larger wineries keep acquiring other wineries. It’s become a very, especially in the nap area, very corporate conglomeration.
Diana Hawkins 11:28
Yeah, word in there. So many wineries, and as a family winery on a small budget, it does make you get a little creative, and makes you a little grassroots. So we do focus a lot on like wine club members, they’re our biggest cheerleaders, our brand ambassadors, we have a point system through our website. So people can, you know, when they refer people, they get points back, or their accounts and stuff. So that’s been huge. Also, taking the winery up. I feel like some small wineries, it’s very hard to invest in the technology to invest in the software you need, because let’s face it all costs, money, business to business, all of those things cost money. But I think that’s one thing I haven’t shied away from. And one way is investing, maybe less than print ads. And I still think they’re valuable. And I still like them. But for our size, we switched to like talk for our reservation platform. Okay, they have a larger marketing pool, because they market on behalf and on behalf of us as well. So you get outreach from that having somebody to really solidify your social media platforms. And really do you could do everything yourself, but it’s at what cost? And where are you going to be able how many markets are you going to be able to reach
Drew Thomas Hendricks 12:42
on social media? What advice would you have for other small wineries, because we talked to we talked to a pension, they all kind of struggle with finding the right tools, they know they’re supposed to post but they don’t post and then they feel bad about not posting so they don’t post any more. And when we tell them just post.
Diana Hawkins 12:59
So it’s just posting and consistency and making your message and then pulling in resources, because it’s a lot to make that consistency of where your posts are. And to make sure you’re getting your value out of it. Because you want to reach these customers. You don’t want to flood them with just ads. So many people want to post just like we have a case sale, but people genuinely want to know what it’s like, especially for a small family winery. Like what do you do on a day to day basis? Are you out there in the field crushing like when you’re having blending, and I am not the best at it. That is one reason we do have a marketing, we outsource some of our marketing. It’s about a 7030 split. So I do about 30% of the posting. And they do about 70% of the content and posting for us, which allowed me to save on my budgeting but still allowed me to maintain consistency, and the marketing plan that I needed, where the other 30% I get to do kind of the insight and the stuff that only comes from me to out to do our brand. So last night, you know how important it is to have a marketing agency or have somebody helping you task and
Bianca Harmon 14:10
do this because it’s a lot it is a lot for one person to do. We had a client recently asked, I haven’t posted in a while. What should I do for my first post, and it’s like just post just just get something out there, you know.
Diana Hawkins 14:26
And you can see because I only use that model for the winery for other businesses. It’s a one stop shop. I do all the social media because it’s a little bit different dynamic, right? And we’re more of a client base we work word of mouth and one on one clients because it is a specialized industry. But you can see like my consistency on posting is not the best. And it’s something I’m working on but with the wine industry, especially with it being so large and so competitive with so many wineries. A lot of it’s just getting people to know you’re there. So finding what your demographic is which is hard because we have such abroad demographic here, really honing in on who it is who wants to come to our winery? Because we are we are unique. We’re a little bit more rustic than some of your posh Napa wineries. And that’s fine. I feel like there’s room for all the experience. Yeah.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 15:12
And I think a lot of people miss I think a lot of people miss the wineries that were there back in the 70s and 80s. Yeah, I know. I know I do. I
Diana Hawkins 15:22
do, it’s a little bit more relaxed you to come have a friendly conversation. I tell people to get to ask whatever question they want. Like, we don’t have a script here. I tried to train all our staff to know all about the lines and the wine winery and its history as well. But don’t there’s never any bad question you not everybody knows about wine don’t feel like you can’t like something or you can’t ask something about it.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 15:46
That makes that makes a lot of sense. So you’re talking about the wine club, and the importance of setting it up and investing in the technology. And not a lot of wineries at least up? Well, there’s more and more in depends on the region. I know. And don’t buy us in Temecula, there’s a lot of a point system and all that. But talk to me about that and how that’s added benefit to your to your group.
Diana Hawkins 16:09
So I started our wine club back in early 2000s, right out of college, and we literally had about 10 members, we still have at least 50% of those members today. So that’s a good thing, our retention, I started it on on Microsoft Access database. So it was for a lot of this stuff before we had reliable internet out here, believe it or not. So with internet, it is amazing we do we did switch to an internet based system, we use wine direct, there’s a couple of really great platforms that was just kind of when we landed on for us wine club, there’s been a real market shift for wine club members wanting to customize. But customization is very time consuming. And when you’re dealing with small wineries possibly limited skews and products, you have to be really careful. That is one thing that the software has allowed us to do is has allowed it to make it stringless in customizing and allowing different customizable clubs, whether some are fully customizable, some are not. It just depends which club level you’re in. It’s also what I call like, you want to remove as many barriers for your customer to purchase as possible. Because I know I personally am an online shopper. And if I have to go and dig through my purse to find my wallet to put in the code or do more work than I have to I’m one of those customer that’s like, I’m gonna go to a different website. It’s bad, I know. But I’m the same way, I usually end up leaving it into my cart and never ended up purchasing. So that’s where this software helps we have because we’re working with a small staff that has automated emails as well. So abandoned cart emails that go out. So I don’t actually have to have someone sit there and look for your abandoned cart, which some people say oh, that seems like a lot for a small family winery, but you underestimate how many of these tools can be set up and will actually save you money and increase your sales.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 18:03
That’s an that’s a great piece of advice. I can’t tell you how many wind direct sites I’ve gone into where the people haven’t even activated all those automated emails. It’s like a It’s a such like an easy win.
Diana Hawkins 18:17
And then learning from your customers. Because I mean, we had one automated email that was set up kind of weird, and it was kind of confusing, so pleanty activated to reward it. Because you know, just listen to your customers if they and not be afraid to change things. My uncles were like, We’re farmers, this is what we do. And I’m like, Well, you know, times change as long as we stay true to our brand and our and what is at the heart and soul of our winery, we can change with technology and time and we still offer we have a little bit for everything because you still have your demographic that would rather pick up a phone and call you and so we’re always here to talk to them, and place their orders, you know, one on one with them, whether it’s on the phone over emails or in person.
Bianca Harmon 18:56
So I love that I feel like that’s, you know, that’s so huge because part of like Napa these days is everybody’s so they’re so stuck in their ways, right? They’re not willing to change with the times and it’s like I try to tell wineries all the time, like times are changing, you have to get into this technological side of things or you’re gonna get left behind I
Diana Hawkins 19:15
know you think you won’t, but you you’re there’s a whole new generation of people want buyers, tasters drinkers, and if you’re not with it, you won’t last you’re not going to be able to be found. And that’s just and that’s the presence so it is hard because things do add up. So it’s picking and choosing for your model as a small winery where what is the basis for your customers and we do have a fairly millennial customer base as well. People like to come and unplug when they’re here and see the history and really have good wine we we have a fun vibe. They get to go out and play bocce cornhole, you can bring a picnic and it’s just a really fun thing to do that some of the wineries I feel like it’s kind of a Sonoma vibe and Napa Mmm Is that more relaxed atmosphere, and you just don’t get the history like this. So being able to see like and feel and how the winery all started not behind all the glass and the polished steel, just that little raw kind of grittiness. And that’s what that’s our vibe. So are you doing tours that are a part of your tasting. So every we do not separate. If you get a tasting, you get a tour, because to me, that is what makes this winery when you drive up, you see this big barn and it’s beautiful. But until you walk behind the cellar doors, you don’t realize like you just walk into these old 100 year old hand hewn red wood beams that were all the original beams from the Ohio Quicksilver mine, and just the natural stone walls with a water seeping in. And to know that that’s where wind was made 100 years ago, in the same I mean, there’s new technology to it, don’t get me wrong, we actually have power now. But um, you know, it’s just being being able to see and feel that that’s that history and that wine and there’s still nothing like walking in a cellar and that smell you get and just that coolness, there’s nothing that replaces that. So
Drew Thomas Hendricks 21:09
So you’re 2022 years and now to the running this winery. grown considerably. Now, I always like to ask this. Go back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Diana Hawkins 21:24
Oh, I mean, there’s always stuff you could do differently. But some of it, I always think there’s a time and a season and it changed. I mean, maybe I think we still would have ended up here, but maybe doing things a little bit sooner. embracing the technology sooner. We were lucky enough to hire a consulting winemaker rather than trying to make all like having a bigger, more robust winemaking team rather than trying to do it all ourselves. But for us, it’s all of our companies have grown. And they’ve grown with us as my brother and I have grown up in the industry and then ultimately taken over all the companies. So you just learn a lot. And don’t be afraid to learn, you’re gonna make mistakes. But learning from all those mistakes, and it’s going to change
Drew Thomas Hendricks 22:06
is funny, I hear that quite a bit of risk, like, I might have done it sooner, but you do it sooner based on the success you saw. And if you had done it sooner, you might not have had the same accent success because all the other ducks might not. And the experience might have been there to support that. Yeah. So that’s, that’s always a challenging one. It’s, I don’t think I’ve ever I think most of the time I hear people talk about that they talked about, they may have expanded too quickly. They may have gone into too many markets. And that one seems a little bit more of a you can look back in hindsight and wonder. But I think I think your growth was probably exactly what it should have been.
Diana Hawkins 22:46
Yeah, I think our growth was right. I mean, we went from part of us was just coming to like a family consensus as well, originally, we were family owned with a number of partners. And it wasn’t until 2017 When my brother and I took the leap and bought out all our partners. So it’s just us and my father now, which does when you have a lot of different people’s input, sometimes it is easier to bring it back to the core that wants to keep going in the same vision.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 23:10
And that’s and that’s another question or another question I love to ask with families that work tightly together. What advice do you have to keep the peace and keep things moving forward?
Diana Hawkins 23:22
It’s always, you’re always you’re never gonna have the same opinion. So it’s always learning to agree to disagree. And then always remembering that it’s still a business and you’re still a family, which is hard. And it’s never easy. I mean, I’m lucky my brother and I work in all three companies together. And we have our moments where we disagree on things. Sometimes he’s right, sometimes I’m right. Sometimes neither of us are right. So it’s just always remembering that the end of the day, you’re still family and you still have to work together and respect. It’s a big you know, anybody you work with. It’s a respect thing, knowing that you’re all different people and you’ll have different ideas. We’re lucky because we kind of tackle two different things. I handle more of the marketing and business and paperwork and the event planning and he does he’s always taking on more of the production role handling the winemaking, the vineyards, per se whereas I’m more of the technical side, like the day to day paperwork and stuff like that.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 24:19
And that’s that’s a tremendous time because you’re doing a hospitality business. You’re also running to business to business businesses that are servicing very different, very different clientele. How did you
Diana Hawkins 24:35
What was that sorry?
Drew Thomas Hendricks 24:36
How do you juggle the kind of the b2c versus the b2b parts of your business?
Diana Hawkins 24:43
Um, it’s sometimes it can be tricky because you’re jumping from different roles. Again, for us it’s been really great because we do have technology so I can remote everything we have, I can work from home, I can work from different offices, and a lot of the same thing things how you would treat your clients and business to business versus business to customer are the same, you still want to give them the same services, you still maybe it’s hospitality, for wine, but my vineyard management company, our services are still the same idea, we want our customer to succeed, we want their to make their job of growing the fruit as easy as possible. We want to help them whether it’s with their quality, their financial or all of the above, to make sure that their experience is seamless, we don’t want them to have to, you know, that’s kind of our model is we provide just that level of customer service. And then in construction, it’s the same thing where it’s the honesty, the dependability, the integrity, knowing like, maybe I can make this project five times as expensive, but I’m not going to because my best interest is my client, yeah, I’m going to do a great job, make sure that their needs are met, and maybe they you know, and work with the engineers to make the experience as positive as possible.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 25:53
I love that. I love that explanation. And it’s something that’s really kind of near and dear to our hearts. And that too often you think of business to business is more of anonymous, because businesses are dealing with businesses. But at its core, there’s humans, you’re dealing with human to human, whether it’s a, whether it’s a consumer in your tasting room, or it’s the person purchasing whatever construction project they’re doing. Yeah, treat that person that way. So yeah, when you get
Diana Hawkins 26:17
different levels of customers, just like in wine, you have the wine connoisseur who knows exactly what they like, and what they don’t like. Whereas you have people new to the wine industry, who are just learning what types of wine they like, and they want to explore, and you want to help them grow their palate and their wine experience. Within your management. And even construction is the same thing. You have people who have been doing this for years, and they know exactly what they need from you for a project. And you can provide that you have some who still have questions anymore, help guiding them on what they’re trying to accomplish, and the best way to get there. So just figuring out what your client’s needs are just like your customers.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 26:53
That’s, that’s there’s some great insight there. Now finding these clients in the vineyard management, is it mostly referral? Or how do you go about finding new wineries.
Diana Hawkins 27:03
Um, for us, it’s mostly about referral. Um, we do a lot just because we’re in this area, we are still relatively new to the vineyard management, we’ve only been we established in 2017. So we’re still gaining our clientele. As far as that goes, and just focusing on being a great company. And the rest should follow probably need to invest a little bit more on like the marketing side. But again, that’s, you know, time and getting there and
Bianca Harmon 27:32
make that transition into vineyard management.
Diana Hawkins 27:36
We’ve always done our own vineyard management for our own vineyards. But we only had like three or four guys. And then we were outsourcing to like a farm laborer company, and with the different as our vineyards have grown, and as we’ve wanted more control and consistency in the farming for us, we really want to know that our labor was you know, leafing right or picking, you know, we were getting the best picking versus trying to schedule around somebody else’s when their crews had time. So that’s kind of how we transitioned, we had a client who said, Hey, we really need this to on the construction side. So we said, well, it’s gonna be both of us. And we actually started small, we started with one crew of 20. Guys, and we’re now up to six to seven crews at about 120. So so, you know, it’s it’s been a big kind of a fast trajectory trend growth. It’s,
Drew Thomas Hendricks 28:29
it’s a pretty good growth track there. Yeah. So
Diana Hawkins 28:31
that was kind of when you’re talking about growing too fast, we might have grown a little too fast. But you know, we’ve always farmed, so it wasn’t anything new. The biggest hurdle was the paperwork, learning all is very regulated industry. So all the paperwork that comes with it, but hey, it was easy for my brother, because that was my site. So, you know, learning just all the paperwork aspect of it, and the Human Resources part and but the farming we already knew. So it’s just, you know, the infrastructure.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 29:01
Yeah, that’s a that’s a big HR task. Yeah. Do you have an HR department or is that all you two,
Diana Hawkins 29:08
that is myself and I have two other employees who help I’m one who is amazing. She really communicates with the staff. And I think that’s just how you talk about customers. Just having that relationship. It’s also with staffing is respect to knowing what motivates your staff, what your staff needs from you and being support for their job just as well as them providing the service for your company.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 29:30
So yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s fantastic. I’d like to shift back one second because the insurance so much good stuff, but I want to jump back to the winery. And I want to jump back to you’re talking about the millennials and we spend a whole lot of time talking about the millennials. What about the Gen Z’s Are you are you seeing a difference in the younger, mid 20s coming into your tasting room?
Diana Hawkins 29:50
We do. We actually started with our establishment club because we were seeing people coming like still in college or just out of college and they really like wine. but maybe they don’t have the budget to buy to be like your premier club where they’re getting a case every two months. So we started our establishment Club, which starts with just a few bottles, gives them some good discounts. And then the idea is that you grow with them. So as they put me as they grow in life, our wines, we have the club for their next stage in life as well. But we do we get, we do see that people wanting to connect more they want the story. The transition is instead of the flashy labels, and the image, they want something with a soul and the grit and to really see the authenticity. And that’s kind of the switch we’re seeing in the market. I feel
Drew Thomas Hendricks 30:39
the grit and the authenticity that is I think that’s been a general theme with like the younger people coming in, they want to see something that’s real substantial. And they also want to they want to have fun to see what cornhole you got the bocce ball that you wouldn’t have seen in two dots.
Diana Hawkins 30:57
No, you do. And we do cater to a little bit different. We’re not that’s, you know, the winery that’s all polished and those experiences are fun. Don’t get me wrong. That’s why I always tell people go do a few of those Napa experiences and round it out with us bring your picnic and relax and
Drew Thomas Hendricks 31:13
do just had to bring a picnic there. That’s That’s fantastic. There’s not there’s not any last Yeah. No, that’s That’s great. Talking about the heavy construction, so do you um How is marketing that different than the vineyard management.
Diana Hawkins 31:36
Um, it’s a completely different thing, because you’re dealing with other vineyard management companies where they may have a client and they need something that is more engineered or more involved than what have been your management company can do. Because it’s not necessarily just ag base. Now we’re getting into really heavy equipment, we’re getting into steep hillsides or removing large amounts of rock. We do a lot of that on referral. We do work with like some of the city and county agencies, we have expanded with the different fires and things, looking at what our customers and our clients need and issues within the industry. So this last year, we expanded into our air curtain burner box, which is a big container that takes green waste, which is something that happens within your to create green waste, and you have to do something with it, you can ship it, you can open burn it, but that’s bringing smoke back into the atmosphere. So this is a very controlled way of doing it. And it basically for people looking at a regenerative farming aspect, it’s a zero carbon footprint because there’s no smoke and you’re getting a 97% reduction in mass. So the vines you rip out, they go in there, they burned down to biochar or ash whichever way you’re going with the project. We’ve also started doing that for some of the parks, parks and recs and RCVD and open space where they’re either clearing damaged lands from the fires, or they’re creating fire defensible area space. So it’s more of an industry you’re pretty much marketing within your industry areas. Or we do have a Facebook page, I don’t know how much traffic that honestly generates, but it’s a lot of word of mouth and people seeing our developments and seeing our projects and working with them and with the engineers and the county. So because a lot of it’s permitted, so that’s really cool. It’s fun, it’s a whole different aspect that not everybody gets to see on a day to day basis.
Bianca Harmon 33:34
Well especially because the defensible space is such a huge thing these days my my fiance works in forestry So wow, yeah, that’s just caught if more people knew about that,
Diana Hawkins 33:47
yeah, just creating especially when you have large projects or even vineyards, my husband works for CalFire and like, seeing what they went through trying to defend during the fires and knowing that hey, we are a vineyard and even though the vines themselves don’t burn giving more just cleared in defensible space to have access to areas and just as much of that as you can give it gives you a better chance.
Bianca Harmon 34:10
Oh yeah. And and nowadays you can get fined if you if you’re not if you don’t have it. So that’s wow, that’s really cool.
Diana Hawkins 34:20
Yeah, I mean, when we were we the properties here we’re actually not we were lucky we survived the fires when minimal damage to one of our properties. But we also had dozers clearing not only our property, but our neighbor’s property because again, we’re a small community, we had water trucks going up and down the valley. I remember
Bianca Harmon 34:37
seeing all the things all of your guys’s crews are doing on social media like to say it was pretty cool. It was It wasn’t a lot. But
Diana Hawkins 34:46
you know, that’s what and Napa as a whole did that it wasn’t just us there was lots of construction companies and vineyard management companies out there pulling their own two. And we all work together and I think that’s in general the one thing that sets the wine industry apart is people really do rally around their own and come to help and support each other even though we’re all technically competitors. We also want to support each other to succeed.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 35:09
That’s what I love most about the wind is free that sense of camaraderie and community. We’re all it’s a friendly competition. Everyone’s there to help each other is from what I’ve seen, more often than not. Now we’re it’s August. We’re recording the show in mid August right now. Talk to the pre show of me hit 100 308. And this isn’t probably going to air until the fall. How’s harvest going right now?
Diana Hawkins 35:35
We well with this heat spike, we went from possibly picking whites next a week, a week from now to we might be picking Friday is the benefit of having a vendor management company that we have is we can move our pick dates accordingly. Within balance because we still have to balance all our client’s needs and everything but we will most likely be picking either Friday or Monday for Sauvignon
Bianca Harmon 35:59
Blanc. So and are you guys handpicking everything?
Diana Hawkins 36:03
Um, at our vineyard we are Yes. So we do have clients who don’t handpick, but the majority of our Napa Valley clients we handpick.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 36:12
That’s fantastic. So, um, Diana’s as we wrap this down, is there anything you haven’t talked about that you’d like to bring up?
Diana Hawkins 36:19
No, I think we hit a lot of stuff. I mean, events, I guess maybe that’s one thing. I was gonna bring that up, actually. Yeah, we do. A lot of fun events. And I think sometimes go and we scaled back on events for a while, because it’s a lot of work, especially when you’re small trying to put it all together. But I found that we do different types. So we just had this last Sunday, we had our first horseback riding then your tour. So you get to kind of see the winery and the perspective of the winery the way it used to be.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 36:49
That sounds fantastic. Do you have to bring your own horse or no, we
Bianca Harmon 36:52
have horses that come in? Oh, my gosh, I wish I would.
Diana Hawkins 36:57
And then we do wine and music sundaes throughout the summer, and barbecues. So my brother and I barbecued this last time, we did try to sandwiches, sometimes sides had music. And yeah, there’s an entrance fee wine club members, I think it was like, it wasn’t very much for wine club members, they get to come and be their home away from home and they’re, you know, bring their friends. And then we’ll have our larger parties, we have our boots to barrels, which is our prime rib. And our friends who have a country western bank fly out from Texas and Colorado. And we have big concert and release some of our reds for September kind of a pre harvest is kind of going kind of events. And then in October, we’ll have our Harvest Pie party this year. So we kind of change it up every year. And come winter, we clear out the entire cellar and do our crab feed. So that was we sell out usually way in advance. But it’s a lot of a one of a kind thing the entire cellar comes out I do about 2000 tea lights down there all along the walls. We have pour chocolate, and it’s just a lot of fun. So I think that’s the highlight. I mean, that’s who doesn’t like to have a party and throw a party. So sounds fantastic. That sounds Oh, and you get to interact with your club members and people who maybe haven’t heard about you before, and it gives your club members kind of a place to mingle with each other as well.
Bianca Harmon 38:15
Do you get a lot of locals from the area coming to these parties to that from
Diana Hawkins 38:21
local to stop in. We also have a lot of people who travel for them like booths, girls will have a big influx of people from Texas, Florida, and Colorado coming in wine club members who they like to come in for the events. So they come in and they’ll do a dinner here or a tasting here, then we’ll actually go out to some of our favorite wineries with them within the valley and do tastings as well. So and like that, supporting everybody in our introduce them to some of our favorite wineries that we have here too.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 38:50
So sounds fantastic. Yeah. Well, where can Dinah where can people learn more about put Valley winery and all your operations
Diana Hawkins 38:58
um, we definitely have a great website so you can always just Po Valley winery.com Check us out there. There’s a lot about our history on there. You can download all about it. We also have a number of Instagram Tik Tok. We even got into TikTok. That’s the newest thing. That’s a whole nother realm of social media.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 39:15
Oh, that’s the whole conversation right there.
Diana Hawkins 39:19
So we have a TikTok we have Instagram, we have a couple of them. We have our PV winery, Instagram and our Facebook page. We also have some fun stuff called like behind the cellar door from our tasting room. So checkout using remote put by the winery if you want like a unique aspect from some of our staff. And then we have PV soil to sip and that is mine and that kind of highlights across the different companies. So I will post on there some of our construction stuff, some of our winery stuff, so everybody can kind of see the integration and the different aspects to it. Oh, wow.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 39:54
Yeah, that sounds good. I gotta check that one out. That was that was PV what?
Diana Hawkins 39:59
PV A heavy W soil to set soil to sip. Okay. Everything from the soil to the first line, so
Drew Thomas Hendricks 40:07
no I mean, I mean check out. Check that out. Well Diana, thank you so much for joining us today. This
Diana Hawkins 40:13
was super having me. I appreciate it.
Drew Thomas Hendricks 40:15
You have a great day and have a good luck on your harvest on Friday. Thank you. Thank you.
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