Challenges and Opportunities, Past and Future
By Patrick G. Duffeler, Founder and Chairman, The Williamsburg Winery
The Williamsburg Winery is seeking a new owner.
Now, let me back up and explain why and how we got here.
Hindsight, they say, is 20/20. That is, things that didn’t seem obvious from the outset become more obvious when evaluating them as past choices. Things that felt uncertain in the moment can feel more certain in the future.
We can likely all agree that the year 2020 has been wrought with challenges with uncertainty.
A pandemic circling our globe. Businesses forced to change operations overnight. Health care workers and first responders committed to serving our communities even when there was so much unknown about this novel virus, COVID-19.
But in looking back and evaluating the year with the clear vision of 20/20, I think we can all agree that 2020 has also been filled with a great deal of certainty.
You see, the thing is, the only thing that is certain is relative uncertainty.
The Williamsburg Winery became a dream idea way back in 1980 when I picked up the virus of loving the wine industry while in Burgundy with an investment group. By the time we purchased the Wessex Hundred farm in 1983 – a virtually abandoned farm – people thought we were crazy. That we certainly would fail because of the uncertainty of it all. Why a vineyard here? Now?
Our first test planting was in 1985. We harvested in 1987, made our first sale in 1988, won our first Governor’s Cup in 1989, and by 1994 had reached case production of over 25,000.
Sure. Challenges continued. We weathered more storms – literally and symbolically.
But we pressed forward. We continued to invest. We continued to look toward the future.
Even amid the challenging business operations of 2020, we did what we have always done. We pressed forward. We continued to invest. We continued to look toward the future.
In part, we were able to do that because of the relationships with our friends, our partners, and our customers. You all continued to support us enjoying the open air of our farm, by drinking wine, dining in our tavern, and staying in our hotel.
In part, we were able to do that because looking toward the future, and being confident in the certainty of uncertainty, is something we have always done.
The Williamsburg Winery is for sale.
Not because of challenges of this year or any years in the past.
Quite the contrary.
The Williamsburg Winery is for sale because that is the next step for us.
If you have spent any time around me, you have heard me refer jokingly to myself as the decrepit, almost 78-year-old, old man.
While I am not really decrepit, I do 400 exercises every morning without fail; I am ready to retire. Particularly, given my wife is French, I want to retire in the Perigord, a green area east of Bordeaux.
But in retirement, we want to be certain that someone is tending this farm and invested in this community and business through all the future moments of uncertainty that are bound to come.
And that is why we have listed the winery for sale. In fact, while I plan to continue to serve the winery in many ways and lead our team through some exciting and robust upcoming projects, we started discussing the listing of the winery for sale back in 2018.
It’s time for someone else to invest in it. To tend to the land. To harvest the grapes and the relationships that come with every customer who enjoys life by enjoying our wine, food, hotel, and farm.