This is part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the American wine community from across the United States. Vintner Magazine will share business and personal insights from winery owners, vintners, marketing managers, sales directors, QCQA staff and others to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.
Andrew Sides — Chief Operating Officer, Winemaking and Production
William Chris Wine Company — Hye, Texas
VINTNER: Why did you enter the wine industry and what makes you love being a part of it and stay in it?
SIDES: Growing up in a community that was tied to agriculture, this kind of work was always rooted in me. The wine industry, even though it has its challenges, is very much tied to agriculture and that’s what keeps me passionate about it. Also, being able to connect the consumer with something that we grow is really fulfilling. That definitely keeps us inspired.
VINTNER: What do you feel have been new challenges in your position that have helped push you and make you better at your job?
SIDES: In the early days, I don’t think I realized that we’d have the opportunity to make an impact on so many people’s lives. Playing a part in the development and growth of the individuals on our team is one of the most rewarding parts of what I do.
VINTNER: How has the definition of growth for your company evolved and how have you adjusted to be successful in that new definition?
SIDES: Growth at the beginning was more about surviving, ha ha. Now growth is about what opportunities can be, and should be explored. It has also allowed me to not have to be involved with every facet of the company, instead having the ability to collaborate with folks throughout the company around a shared vision.
VINTNER: What strategic growth opportunity do you feel is still “out there” for your brand and how are you working on capitalizing on it this year?
SIDES: Texans in general are becoming more and more hungry for true, authentic Texas wine, and there’s still a large percentage of people who haven’t heard of us. We’re investing resources into marketing and into opening new tasting rooms in order to create new fans.
VINTNER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the wine industry, what would it be?
SIDES: Invest in your people. From an employee standpoint, there are massive leaps that can happen when you have really dedicated team members that are committed not only to your brand, but to the industry you’re operating within.