This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the American wine community from across the U.S.
Vintner Magazine will share business and personal insights from Winery Owners, Vintners, Marketing Managers, Sales Directors, QCQA staff and others each month to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.
Dominic Varallo, Wine Maker/Manager/Owner, Spring Lake Winery — Lockport, New York
VINTNER: How has your business strategy evolved to help grow and stay competitive?
VARALLO: As a family business our biggest strategy has been and continues to be offering Italian hospitality and personalized service to all of our guests to make them feel at home and a part of the Varallo family. To ensure the continued success of our winery we have started offering events such as weddings, [and] original winery events such as concerts, mass by the lake, and more.
VINTNER: What has your winery changed because of the pandemic that you feel will stay long term and be a benefit for the company?
VARALLO: With the devastating effects of COVID-19 we have seen a lot of local businesses suffer. We have been fortunate to keep business alive [and] have done so by increasing our café food offerings. Groomed and opened beautiful walking trails throughout the property, offered takeout service, as well as added events that are COVID friendly.
VINTNER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
VARALLO: My mentor is my Poppa Varallo, he is the one who started it all by making wine in his basement for the family. The most valuable lesson both he and my father, Dr. Varallo, instilled in me is that great fruit makes great wine and to let the grapes do the work.
VINTNER: What idea did you or your team come up with lately that has been a big benefit to how your winery functions?
VARALLO: To make our guests feel at ease and still provide the classic winery experience we have started implementing table-side tastings which are COVID-19 safe. Table-side tastings allows us to intimately interact with our guests while maintaining social distancing practices.
VINTNER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the wine industry, what would it be?
VARALLO: Offer and advertise the winemaker versus the region the grape comes from. Finding government assistance opportunities and programs promoting growth and development, there are many resources to find which are worth the time investment of the search.