“From the fruit to the bottle, that’s what I do,” said Greg Brewer, winemaker at Melville Vineyards and Winery in Lompoc, CA. Brewer, who produces wine at three different vineyards, spoke to a packed room of ICE Management Program students, staff and attendees during today’s Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs session, the second in a series of eight lectures.
“I want to be taken somewhere. I want to be challenged. And I want someone who cares,” Brewer said, advising the audience to harness their passion and creativity when launching their own ideas into successful personal businesses. Forever a wine fanatic, Brewer has launched two wineries in addition to being the winemaker at Melville. With just $12,000, Brewer and his business partner created Brewer-Clifton, a winery that focuses on producing wines from the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. Fourteen years after the launch, Brewer-Clifton now produces 10,000 cases of wine each year.
Brewer was eager to share his nearly 20 years of industry experience with ICE’s Management students, as he emphasized the importance of taking ownership and creating an identity behind your product. “There’s a sweet spot between being confident and being vulnerable,” he said. “And I cannot stress enough to think out of the box.”
From his start as a wine-taster making $5.50 an hour, to being a winemaker at Melville, Brewer-Clifton and his latest and personal winery, Diatom, Brewer is a testament to the power of the entrepreneurial spirit. “I’m not driven by money,” he said. “But if you love what you do, then it will just come.”
ICE’s Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs series is open to both ICE students and to the public. To see a full schedule and to register online, visit ICE.