When Andrew Sides helped start Lost Draw Cellars, the co-owner and managing partner for the Fredericksburg, Texas winery expected the venture to be somewhat successful early on because of ties they already had to the industry as a vineyard starting in 2005 before launching the first vintage in 2014.
“Thankfully it has so far played out as we expected,” Sides said.
Early on, the key learning trait that needed to be enhanced was projections for how the wine business works.
“It’s a difficult thing to wrap your head around, knowing you’ll be picking grapes one year for a wine that will be bottled and sold two, two and a half years later, especially when you’re new,” Sides admitted. “That’s been one of the biggest challenges, but we’ve done a lot better after getting more data and we’re now able to project what we might need to be successful and efficient.
“It’s also allowed us to be more creative in the winery by stretching out certain lots.”
Lost Draw became one of the first wineries in Texas to go more toward having less oak-impact wines, focusing more on brighter, fresher, and more acid-driven brands.
“It fits our style all the way from how we grow our grapes,” he said. “We’re not trying to recreate the Napa-style of wine; we’re trying to make a different style entirely.
“That’s definitely a differentiating factor. There are countless wineries within a one-hour drive from where we are, but we always have new customers and keep our existing customers because we always have something new and fresh.”
One thing Sides didn’t anticipate was the impact the business would have on people and their families who work there.
“We’re able to provide a great opportunity, a great place to work and a way of life,” he said. “We truly want to invest in them as people, and that’s been one of the most rewarding things I never really considered when starting out.
“Our team creates new opportunities for guests to be engaged with us, from new events to tasting experiences. It’s never stale, it’s always fresh — just like with our wine.”
Even with the craziness that 2020 has brought to wineries, Lost Draw has not had to let any employees go even for the short-term.
“We’ve had a pretty steady upward trend since the beginning but we haven’t ever come to a place of thinking we’ve mastered this,” Sides said. “We continue trying to figure out how to make the experience for our guests and consumers better; we’re always working in the winery to improve production techniques and methods to make our wines higher quality.”
Photo courtesy Resplendent Hospitality