The more the vineyard grew (now 100 acres with 50 acres planted in grapes), the more they got caught up in it. "I loved the farming part, living on the land, the harvest every year. When we started, I didn't know anything about plants. I had never grown anything before. But the more I got into it, the more the passion developed."
Is it this passion, this complete immersion in the project, that sets the entrepreneurial spirit apart from others? Or are there other factors at work--personality, gender, luck, market niche, timing?
During the early 1970s, there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of small enterprises throughout Oregon in which the product was a result of passion, experimentation, and figuring things out from scratch. Long before it was trendy, people were making decent home brew and root beer (the word "microbrewery" was not yet coined), growing and trading organic produce, and formulating herbal teas and medications. However, very few of these home-grown businesses ended up as multimillion-dollar flagships of a statewide industry.
Why did the Sokol Blosser vineyard flourish, thriving and growing, while other ventures, based on equally good ideas and market voids, folded?
One element, Sokol Blosser feels, is that she and her husband were willing to take risks. Living in rural Yamhill County, with a new baby, a piece of land, and maturing pinot noir grapes, the couple had a lot riding on their first business venture. "One of the things that defines the entrepreneur is that you have to be willing to risk everything. The driving force can't be just money. It's the risk, the challenge, the aesthetic appeal, wanting to see if it can be pulled off."
This motivation, Sokol Blosser feels, is what sets the entrepreneur apart. "You've got to have that hunger inside to do something. It may not be directed at anything specific. But you've got to have that drive to create, to challenge yourself, to keep making it better. With us, it wasn't so much a passion for the subject as the act of doing it."
In thinking about why her venture succeeded when so many others did not, Sokol Blosser allows that there's also a personality factor involved. "You not only have to be a risk taker, you have to be able to think big. In our case, it was my husband who had the vision to move it up a notch.
It was his idea to take that next step, and start the winery. But when I finally warmed to it, I was ready to really start making this business grow."