Early on in her promotional effort, only a few of the bigger restaurants were offering Oregon products from their wine cellars. "Today, almost everybody has Oregon wines on their lists," she says. Most other states, Sokol Blosser points out, haven't moved beyond local or regional markets. "It's not easy to find a Texas, New York, or Georgia wine, even though they're big industries with quality products."
This large-world view is important for entrepreneurial success, and Sokol Blosser is proud of her record. However, she also recognizes that she was lucky in not running into the "glass ceiling" on her way to the top: "There's no question that the only reason I could be president of the company was because I owned it. I didn't have a business background. I'm a woman in a male- dominated industry. I had no experience. I'd never run a corporation." In becoming president, Sokol Blosser was given the opportunity to apply her creative talents in a forum that might otherwise have been closed to her.
Sokol Blosser has some advice for people thinking about starting a business: "It's important to follow your vision. If you have a dream, go for it. But you've got to do the real work as well. Plan. Strategize. Do the research. Know what you're getting into. You can have your head in the clouds, but make sure your feet are on the ground, and that they're doing the legwork to make your dream happen. You have to be willing to take risks, even if you don't fully know what those risks are. We went into this saying we were willing to lose everything. Obviously, we didn't. But when we started out, we didn't know what would happen."
She believes that the challenge and the excitement for an entrepreneur must be in the doing, rather than the success: "Someday it all may be perfect, but we're still working on it. As long as I'm enjoying what I'm doing, that's the most important thing."
Nora Lehnhoff '70 is director of the Russian resettlement program for Jewish Family and Child Services. She has written extensively on health care issues. Her last article for Reed was "I could have used some nannying," in February 1992.