On this episode, Dr.G is joined by Brian Roeder – a real estate developer now turned winery entrepreneur who dropped everything to follow his passion. Located In the scenic hills of Virginia wine country, he is the co-founder of Barrel Oak Winery – commonly referred to as BOW for its dog-friendly environment. If you are anything like me, in our heads, we all have a pre-conceived notion of what a winery experience is like. Brian has challenged every assumption of that experience by reinventing the model to be centered around his living room experience, and less about stiff traditions and rituals.
In this episode, Brian shares with us both the ups and downs of his rollercoaster ride in pursuit of his dream, how he reimagined the winery experience using a hospitality model centered around community and conversation, and key lessons he learned along the way that has helped him shaped his career.
All this and more on today’s episode. Now, That’s Unusual.
About Brian Roeder
Brian Roeder is a real estate developer turned winery entrepreneur who dropped everything in 2006 to co-found Barrel Oak Winery in the scenic hills of Virginia Wine Country. Barrel Oak, commonly referred to as BOW for its dog-friendly environment, uses a hospitality model that centers around a ‘living room’ experience and seeks to create conversation and community. Voted Most Family Friendly Winery by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2012, Barrel Oak re imagines the winery experience, bucking tradition and challenging assumptions regarding what it means to visit a winery.
Key Interview Takeaways
Progress often requires that we challenge social norms. BOW’s success has much to do with its disruptive business model which embraces family and encourages customer interaction, rather than replicating the traditional chateau experience. Despite pushback from the industry, Roeder stands behind this innovative model that empowers its patrons with “great wine and a great experience.”
Avoid self-definition. Extraordinary things happen when you let go of self-imposed restrictions of what you can and cannot do. By continually revisiting the purpose of the business, Roeder realized that BOW was not just a winery, but a hospitality brand. This allowed for the expansion of Barrel Oak to include a brewery.
Consider the ‘third space’ concept. After home and work comes the ‘third space,’ a place where you choose to be. The atmosphere at BOW allows for its customers to initiate conversation and create a community.
Listen to your customers! Rather than asking its patrons to fit into conventional wine culture, Barrel Oak welcomes kids and pets, and Roeder’s team added the brewery in response to customer feedback.
You can learn a lot about yourself when your back is against the wall. Faced with a small group of wealthy influentials who maintained a zero growth position for the community and passed an ordinance that would have put BOW out of business, Roeder learned what he was capable of. In danger of losing everything, he sued the county and discovered both positive and negative aspects of that relentless fighting spirit.
Adopt a sense of deep gratitude and humility. When you have reached a certain level of success and people appreciate what you have created, it’s time to give back to the community. Roeder works with a local Chamber of Commerce to help other small and startup businesses.
“Words have meaning and meanings have consequences, so words have consequences.”
Connect with Brian Roeder