In the mid-1960s, my dad had an interest in growing grapes that created good wine. He believed that Michigan had the potential to grow good wine. He had no big plans to grow thousands of vines or build a winery, rather he simply wanted a place to spend weekends away from Chicago and start his hobby.
In 1966 we purchased a run-down farm near the little village of Baroda, about 90 miles from Chicago. We continued to live in Chicago and spent every weekend on the farm. We spent most of our time improving the property. This meant tearing down dilapidated outbuildings, restoring the old peg-and-beam barn, and making the house more habitable. It did have a few acres of asparagus and black raspberries, but eventually, this gave way to vineyards. My dad was one of the first to plant French Hybrid grapes in the area.
In a few years, our vineyard acreage grew to 15. Most of these were French Hybrids, but he also began experimenting with vinifera vines (vines native to warmer European climates). Much of our crop was sold to home winemakers and dad used the balance to make his own wine.
Dad had a vision. He was clear on his purpose and invested his time and resources accordingly. He communicated this purpose to his family and friends. While later in life he slowed considerably, he never wavered fr
om that original vision to have a few acres of grapes, and enjoy this as a hobby.
One of the principle roles of a leader is to set and articulate a clear vision or purpose for the organization. This must be well communicated to garner success. What is your vision or purpose? Is it clear? Are you passionate about it? Are the priorities clear? Do others around you understand it and know how to act on it?
Today, there are nine full production wineries within a few miles of Baroda. I cannot claim that my dad started all of this, but no doubt he had an influence on some of his neighbors. If you ever travel through southwest Michigan, stop at one of our wineries, and try some of our great wines.
Dedicated to your profitable transformation,