Type: Vineyard & Winery
Years in operation: 6
Annual revenue: 10k-50k
(Average over last three years)
Dulzura Vineyard & Winery is located at the Historic Clark Ranch, which has been in the same family since the 1880's. Once over 1100 acres, four acres of the remaining 33 acres were planted to wine grapes in 2008, to restore the agricultural heritage of the property. The original pioneer era home and adjacent "Pickle House" have been lovingly restored. The tasting room, which opened to the public in 2014 is in the Pickle House, and artifacts of the old Ranch are on display. We make full bodied red wines including Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel, as well as delicate whites…Viognier, Chardonnay, Dry Reisling, and an Orange Muscat Dessert wine. Grant and Sarah manage the day to operations of managing the vineyard and wine making operations, while also managing another vineyard and winery in nearby Jamul. Grant has spearheaded the marketing of "The Wineries on Highway 94", (google it) after a career in commercial cinematography, forming a cooperative group of six local wineries and a B&B with a vineyard to make marketing more affordable for the group as a whole, as well as marketing a wine destination, rather than a single winery. Based on sales since opening the tasting room in 2014, we need to increase our production by 30-50% in order to keep up with tasting room sales. Our wines have been very well received by the public, who also enormously enjoy visiting the property, sitting in the "tower" gazebo built on an abandoned water tank in the vineyard, taking in the views, and sipping a glass of wine.
Inside the Farm
How is your approach to farming different than other farms in the same category?
Grant's background was as a commercial cinematographer, but he is really a renaissance man who can figure out how to make anything work better. Sarah was a doctor, who is also a passionate gardener. Together we have the intelligence and training to figure out how to plant the vineyards, train the vines, make the wines, market the venues, and make the public happy with the results.
How does your different approach contribute to a long-term profitable growth strategy for your farm and other small farms like yours?
By forming a cooperative, and contributing our work on the website development, the marketing strategies, the regular monitoring of activities, we have not only worked toward the business growth of our own Vineyard & Winery, we have contributed to the growth in business of other local wineries as well.
How would you specifically use a Mortgage Lifter Lift or Mini Lift?
Although we have considerable equity in the property, we have discovered that by opening a tasting room and having a "business" on the property, we are unable to refinance and tap that equity to pay off debt, and continue to grow, without taking out a commercial loan at a considerably higher interest rate, despite the fact that the ranch is also our primary residence. We need to plant more grapes to keep up with the demand for our wines.
Please share why you are so passionate about your farm and/or farming in general.
It is our life now, the life of a California Ranch that has remained in the hands of the descendants of the family that founded it in 1884. We have to make it work to survive.
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