Stoel Rives | Deeply Rooted Podcast S3E1: Joshua Hanson of Small Vineyards

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Episode One: Joshua Hanson of Small Vineyards delves into the intimate relationship between vineyard size and wine quality, the allure of Italian wines, and the evolving challenges and innovations in the wine industry on the Deeply Rooted Podcast.

In the recent episode of the Deeply Rooted Podcast, Joshua Hanson, the President of Small Vineyards, shared his thoughts on a variety of topics with Todd Friedman. Small Vineyards, with its emphasis on quality and authenticity, showcases wines from family-owned estates. Throughout the episode, he reflects on:

  • The intimate connection between the size of the vineyard and the quality of its product.
  • His transformative journey to Italy and the unexpected experiences that inspired him to establish Small Vineyards.
  • The intriguing challenges faced in the wine industry, particularly the evolution of packaging and meeting changing consumer demands.
  • The significance of long-standing relationships and partnerships.
  • The importance of evolving with the market while staying true to one's roots.

The episode illuminates the dedication, passion, and innovation that drive Small Vineyards and the wine industry at large.

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Episode Recap

In the latest episode of the Stoel Rives | Deeply Rooted podcast, Joshua Hanson, Partner and President of Small Vineyards, also known as August Imports, joined Todd Friedman, corporate attorney and a leader of Stoel Rives' agribusiness industry group. In the episode, Todd and Joshua discuss how a memorable trip to Italy helped launch Joshua’s business, the challenges small wine producers face, and how wineries can adapt to the ever-changing consumer trends for alcoholic beverages.

Helping Tell the Story of Small Vineyards from Around the World

Joshua's love of Italy inspired him to start a wine company where the focus was on place being the most essential part of the story. Joshua said, "We found the best wines come from real places with real people that make them. They are usually not concepts. They are built from the ground up, and most of these are imports. Our specialty is Italy."

Joshua had been visiting Italy every summer since high school, and a 2000 visit to Italy with his wife and parents gave him an opportunity to visit a small, family-run vineyard that would help launch his business. Joshua describes the visit, saying, "We're sitting at their table in the middle of their vineyard, and literally every single thing on the table was made on their farm. The olive oil, the sage leaves, the wine of course. It was so fabulous [that when] I came back from that trip, I actually had a contract on my desk to sign up to go back to be CEO of a tech company, and I decided, you know what, I want to start a wine company. I want to call it Small Vineyards, and I want to put a sticker on the front of every bottle that tells people there's a great story to everything that we curate and select. That was the passion behind it."

Taking on Industry Business Challenges

Joshua notes that whether in the Willamette Valley, Tuscany, or southwest France, small wine producers face a similar business challenge - they have a great product with an unknown brand and need a route to market their wine. Additionally, the consolidation of wine companies has added to the challenge, "We've seen so much consolidation from within distributors, and retail chains have become the predominant force for volume in the US. There were about 8,000 wine distributors in the US, and as of the end of COVID, there were less than 1000. So it really has compressed," Joshua said.

For Small Vineyards to stand out, they had to take a more personal approach to the producers they represent. To remain relevant, Small Vineyards could not just be good representatives of their product; they needed to be "passionate ambassadors for the family (vineyard)," Joshua said, adding that "one of our big selling points to both our clients as distributors and our suppliers is we won't carry your wine unless we love it. And if we love it, we have a good chance of being successful."

Joshua described that, beyond having a great product, being ambassadors for the family vineyards requires creating curated experiences around the wines they represent. "You have to have wine tastings. You have to have great educational materials. We have 90-second videos on every single wine that not only tell you the features and benefits, the kind of classic sales technique, but also give you that romantic story so that if I'm a sales rep in Texas, and I've never met (the winemaker), I can just get on my smartphone, watch the video before I go present. I feel like I just had a little bit of fresh air education, and I can walk in, and present with some competence and authority. So having the right tools is key," Joshua said.

Adapting to Changing Consumer Trends

As an attorney in Stoel Rives' agribusiness industry group, podcast host Todd Friedman noted of the recent interest in alternative beverages, such as hard seltzers, as well as alternative packaging for alcoholic beverages. Todd asked Joshua about the opportunities and impact these consumer trends have on Small Vineyards.

Joshua's team has spent a lot of time thinking about these trends and have been migrating beyond just wines into different products like spritzers. Joshua said, "We've seen a couple of converging dynamics. One is that consumers really do want to drink healthier. They want to have lower-alcohol wines, which is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge. Also, during COVID, we had this really big shift in what consumers wanted their packaging to be; they wanted their wine to be portable, they wanted to be able to have it on their terms, to be able to take it anywhere they wanted. Consumers began to also expect really good quality, regardless of the packaging, and they want a lot of different options. (For example) We have found really great success in aluminum wine bottles, as opposed to cans."

Integrating the new packaging and beverages adds complexity, including higher inventory and development costs. Joshua said the higher costs and complexity are necessary, "We can either invest and take on those additional costs in order to have additional diversification and growth opportunities or not, somebody's going to do it. So, we need to adapt or die. That's really kind of how we see it," he said.

20 Years of Relationships & Wine

After 20 years since starting Small Vineyards, Joshua reflected on their success and what makes them unique. "Our company is a reflection of what we love to do, the people that work here, the estates we represent, the distributors we partner with, the restaurants and stores we sell to. It is a remarkable group," Joshua said.

Twenty years in the wine industry goes by quickly, as you only have one vintage a year. The series of relationships Small Vineyards has built are what they have relied on to get through the challenging times, such as during the pandemic, "That's when you find out who your real partners are," Joshua said. Looking back on the 20 years and the visit to Italy that inspired Joshua to launch the business, he said, "One of the things that I love about our company and our industry is the fact that if you treat people well and you do things well, and you tell the truth, and you work hard and you show up every day with products that really have a lot of personality and integrity, things will work out pretty well. And I think what we have done in the process is manage to keep up with the times in terms of looking at what consumers are actually wanting. I don't think we're stuck. And that's not easy for wine companies to do because wine companies are based in tradition by almost definition. But we have put a great deal of energy and passion into innovation with our supplier network, and tapped into those wineries that are really entrepreneurial in nature."


Episode Transcript

Todd Friedman:

Welcome to the Stoel Rives Deeply Rooted podcast. I’m your host, Todd Friedman, a corporate attorney and leader of the Stoel Rives Agribusiness, Food, Beverage and Timber Industry Group.

This season, we’re interviewing respected industry leaders and discussing how they and their companies are embracing innovation and capitalizing on new opportunities to move their industries forward in an ever changing world. Subscribe to the podcast at stoel.com. That’s s-t-o-e-l .com or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Greetings, listeners. Welcome to this episode of the Stoel Rives Deeply Rooted podcast. I’m your host, Todd Friedman. My guest today is Joshua Hanson, partner and president of Small Vineyards, also known as August Imports, which is a sales and marketing company for hand-harvested small production wines from around the world and some larger brands as well. They’re perhaps best known for importing the wines of Andrea Bocelli.

Welcome, Joshua.

Joshua Hanson:

Thanks, Todd.

Todd Friedman:

Well, Joshua, you are president of Small Vineyards. And why don’t we start by having you tell us a little bit about the story?

Joshua Hanson:

Yeah, sure. So Small Vineyards, the whole premise is just what it sounds like. We started basically by the whole idea of having a place be the most important part of the story. So that the size of the vineyard indicates the quality, indicates the intimacy. And so family owned estates, hand harvested, earth friendly vineyards. The whole idea is that real wines, we found that the best wines come real places with real people who make them. They’re usually not concepts, but are usually built from the ground up. And most of these are imports. Our specialty is Italy. That’s where we started and we’re now in 13 different countries. But Italy is still… my personal passion is where I started. I started going to Italy every year actually my senior year in high school and went every year after that, fell in love with it. And I went there on vacation in 2000, with my wife and my parents. We paid a few bucks to go on one of these tours through Chianti. And here we are in this little band and we have this Italian guy who’s, you know, chain smoking and totally in love with the villages that were visiting. And every winery knows them and they get out. You know, he’d get out they’d say, you know, “Ciao, _______ Lorenzo.” And then they’d look at me and they’d go, “Ciao, como estas?” And then they’d give me a hug as if they knew me, right? It was so charming and made quite an impression. And as we had these wines, they were so good. And, you know, I knew Italians wines pretty well. I had, you know, a decent seller at home, and I considered myself somewhat of a collector. These weren’t the wines that I was having at home. The wines I had home were very good, but there was something really special about these wines. And so I asked Lorenzo, I said, “Why are these wines so good, because I can’t find them at home.” And he said, “Well, the answer to both questions is the same.” He said, “The reason they’re so good and the reason you can’t find them is because they’re from small vineyards.” So the light bulb goes off and he ends up making a phone call that was absolutely fabulous. He’s says, “Mama,” he says, “I have some new friends and I want you to make dinner for everybody.” And so you flash for about …

Todd Friedman:

So is that beyond the normal?

Joshua Hanson:

Yeah, very much so.

Todd Friedman:

OK.

Joshua Hanson:

Yeah.

Todd Friedman:

There’s a hugging and everything. That’s …

Joshua Hanson:

Yeah, that’s part of the tour. But this was above and beyond. And so flash forward a couple hours later and we’re sitting at their table in the middle of their vineyard and literally every single thing on the table was made on their farm. You know, the olive oil, the flash dried sage leaves. The wine, of course, beat everything. It was so fabulous and I was talking to his father, Franco Battisti. And Franco, and he makes this wine ____________, the varied Chinon Chianti Classico.

Todd Friedman:

I should point out we’re drinking Italian wine as we speak.

Joshua Hanson:

Yeah.

Todd Friedman:

So we can ____________ [couldn’t understand it] a little bit more authentico. But, of course, Joshua brought not one, but two bottles.

Joshua Hanson:

Yeah, well, a little ______, as they say.

So we’re having this amazing meal and his father said something that really struck me. I haven’t ever forgotten. He said, “You know, you can be a winemaker for 50 years and only have fifty chances to make the perfect wine. And I was like, wow. I mean, I was in technology at the time. That was my whole life. And I there was something about that, like, the patience of the business cycles and how fascinated he was with thinking about what his Sangiovese would taste like in five years and 10 years. And even the decision trees that go into, OK, so I have a hillside in Chianti Classico southwest facing 600 meters. I’ve got calcareous soil with marl, and what grapes should I plant in order to maximize the use of soil and the sun exposure and the mezza climate and all of that stuff? And how densely should I plant them? And what type of vine training should I use? And I was just hooked. I was just amazed at kind of the balance between, you know, human beings and nature and how one makes the other better.

Todd Friedman:

You mentioned you had a wine cellar and appreciated wine, but hadn’t thought about viticulture much before?

Joshua Hanson:

Very little at all. And it got me a lot closer to understanding the mentality of agronomists and people of the land. I’ve got farmers with my family, but this was a different thing. And so I was really attracted to the art and to the agriculture as just a fabulous combination.

Todd Friedman:

It would be in that setting, right?

Joshua Hanson:

Yeah, yeah. And the bug that bit me, it still bites me today. I mean, I was, uh, I came back from that trip. I had, actually I had a contract on my desk to sign up to go back to be the pro tempore CEO of a tech company. And I decided, you know what? I want to start a one company. I mean and I in fact I want to start a wine company. And I want to call it Small Vineyards and I want to put a sticker on the front of every bottle that tells people that it’s hand harvested, family owned, earth friendly, and that there’s a great story to everything that we curate and select. That was the passion behind it.

Todd Friedman:

And how many years ago was that?

Joshua Hanson:

22. And so when I called up Lorenzo and I said, “Listen. I love your wines.” I said, “Are you interested in exporting your wines to the US? And do you happen to know anybody else that might want to?” Because I had so much great wines with me. And he said, you know, he said, “I’ll tell you what,” he said, “I’ll tell them that I will if they will.” And I said, “Great!” And he said, he said, “I’ll see what I can do and if I can get some people on board, I’ll send you some samples.” And about a month later I had literally a crate like the Raiders of the Lost Ark, a wooden crate on my front door. I’m not kidding. And it was absolutely full of wines that we still import most of them to this day. And the start of just a love affair with people who make wine, and they tend to be really fascinating people.

Todd Friedman:

Here you are, 22 years later, sitting in a conference room in downtown Seattle. And you have two wines that you brought with you. And you said one was made by Lorenzo’s family.

Joshua Hanson:

Correct. Yep.

Todd Friedman:

Right. And the other one is another story.

Joshua Hanson:

Well, this is an estate called Monte Tondo, which is in the Soave region. So this is made from the classic grape Garganega. And this estate is just amazing. So this wine maker on the back, you know, we like to put the photo of the wine maker in the little story.

Todd Friedman:

There was a picture of the wine maker on back, yes?

Joshua Hanson:

Yep. And some wine makers don’t mind that and some do. But they usually play ball and they think it’s fun. And in this particular case, this wine maker here named Gino Monumosco, he bought a hill that was so full of rock and granite and limestone that it was unplantable. So he bought this solid rock hill, drilled holes through all of the rock, planted vines in it. The root systems then ended up taking root and it was the most heroic bit of maybe viticulture I’ve ever seen, how hard it was. And he always died. His tractor flipped over and, I mean, it was really, really quite a story. But it ended up turning into one of the top white wines produced in Italy. This is their basic everyday Soave, but the one I’m talking about is a higher end ___________. But every wine has a great story. These people are just… they live pretty storied lives, and even if they’re not fond of talking about themselves much, you know, if you spend a nice meal with them and you kind of find out who they are, these stories tend to emerge rather organically. And it’s in a mix for good business because people love to know not just what the wine is, but who makes it.

Todd Friedman:

So 22 years later, where you are and you have a business now. It’s not just the dream. And so what are some of the challenges and of running this business comprised of corralling these, you know, dreamers and people who, you know, aren’t necessarily looking for the kind of business that you’re offering to them.

Joshua Hanson:

I think the challenges are pretty archetypal for any small producer, wherever they are in the world. If they’re in, you know, Willamette Valley, or if they’re in Tuscany or, you know, Southwest France. A lot the challenges are the same and that is finding a route to market for a brand that that is fabulous product, but it doesn’t have a known brand. And so that requires a lot of pick and axe work on the part of the winery if it’s a domestic winery or on the part of the importer if they’re importing it, is to do a lot of that hand selling throughout the supply chain and in the marketplace where you’ve seen so much consolidation from, you know, within distributors and retail chains or become have become, you know, the predominant major force for volume in the US for sure. Drastically changed since when I started Small Vineyards. There were about 8000 distributors, wine distributors, in the US and as of end of COVID there was less than 1000. So it really compressed. Part of that was natural attrition and a lot of that was consolidation. So what we found is we had to remain relevant with our distributors by doing a lot of the sales ourself, being really not just good representatives of our product, but actually passionate ambassadors for the family. So the people that we’ve hired who work for us, our team, they really are passionate about it. If they’re not, the wine won’t be successful. So one of our big selling points I think to both our clients as distributors and our suppliers is we won’t carry the wine unless we love it. And if we love it, we’ve got a good chance of being successful selling it. But getting attention in the marketplace without having, you know, a bottomless, you know, pit of capital to work with, which is the case with most small smaller producers, absolutely the biggest challenge.

Todd Friedman:

So tell me a bit more about that. So as the distributor tier is consolidating, it puts, seems to me it would put smaller players at a disadvantage, right, both in terms of getting attention and also and getting pricing. Is that what’s going on and how do you how do deal with that then as a small importer.

Joshua Hanson:

You know, back in my technology days, we used to basically, we used to say that, you know, if you don’t have an incredible product, then don’t even bother showing up. I mean you have to have that to start. If you don’t have a great wine in the bottle, it doesn’t matter. The market will already throw you out as a general statement. But to move past that, I think it requires a lot of… you have to curate an experience around your wines. You have to have wine tastings. You have to have great educational materials. We have 90 second videos on every single wine that not only tells you the feature benefit, kind of classic sales technique, but it also gives you that kind of romantic story. So that if I’m a sales rep in Texas and I’ve never met Gino Monumosco from Monte Tondi, but I can just get on my smartphone and watch the video before I go present. It’s like, I actually feel like I’ve just had a little bit of, you know, fresh air education here and I can walk in and present some with some confidence and stories. So having the right tools is key and I think showing the distributor that you aren’t just… I had one distributor say to me years ago, he said, “You know, we get tired of the berate and be gone model,” he said, “where a wine maker or a supplier will show up and they’ll berate us for not selling enough and then they’d be gone.” You need to become a solution and know what those solutions look like are financial incentives, marketing ideas, social media, digital tastings, wine dinners, all the various things that, there’s not one silver bullet ever. It’s a mosaic of solutions that end up overtime creating a flywheel effect on your brand that ends up taking a momentum of its own.

Todd Friedman:

So let’s talk a little bit about some of the things that are going on in the consumer space with regard to alcoholic beverages, wine and others. From my perspective, there’s been a lot of interest in alternative packaging as well as in alternative beverages, right? The beer wine spirits and now you see ready to drink cocktails.

Joshua Hanson:

Yes.

Todd Friedman:

You see seltzers, hard seltzers. You see cider and certainly in Portland, you see mead. I assume here in Seattle, it seems. I’m not sure about in Chicago, but anyway, there’s a lot going on in this space. It creates probably some noise and some opportunities.

Joshua Hanson:

It does. And we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that and acting on that. At my company we have… you know, we migrated out of only small production wines into much larger production wines. And now we’ve migrated out of wines into beyond wine-type products. So wine spritzers, different types of packaging alternatives because one thing that we saw, we’ve seen, you know, a couple of converging dynamics. One is that consumers really do want to drink healthier. They want to have lower alcohol wines, which is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge with climate change that’s going on and making alcohol higher, degrees of alcohol higher than they otherwise would. But there’s also during COVID we had this really big shift in what consumers, what they wanted their packaging to be. They wanted their wine to be portable, they wanted to be able to have it on their terms, to be able to take it anywhere they wanted. But they also wanted… you know, before if you buy a wine in a 3 liter bag and box or you’d in the Tetra pack or you buy in the can, the quality would be relatively what you’d expect. But having said all that, the consumer began to really expect and demand really good quality regardless of the packaging. And they want a lot of different options. So different half bottles. We have found a really great success in aluminum wine bottles as opposed to cans, cans of like a beer. It’s 12 ounce beer can essentially and that doesn’t really speak wine to a lot of people at least subliminally. So we found that if we have put it in a beautiful aluminum bottle – we had to work for a long time to get the liner inside the aluminum proper so that it wouldn’t affect the flavor of the wine. Screw caps matter a lot on those types of things because people like to reclose them, and that kind of thing that’s taking a lot of our time. But we found that that time is paying off because brands that we have that have been around a while, which are a little bit stagnant. We’ve now introduced these alternative packages and all of a sudden it isn’t just popular on premise and restaurants. It’s also now becoming picking up a lot of steam and ___ premises in stores. We’re getting a lot of outdoor venue and stadium type business and things that we had and typically had an opportunity to do because we were only selling $7.50 glass bottles.

Todd Friedman:

Does that make your business more complicated? You have more skews, maybe, or just more to manage in terms of what you need to do to either develop a new product or to manage an existing product?

Joshua Hanson:

Yes, it does.

Todd Friedman:

Yeah.

Joshua Hanson:

It does. It makes it more complex. Inventory carrying costs are higher, development costs are higher. But that is the market that we’re in. So we can either invest and take on those additional costs in order to have additional diversification and growth opportunities or not. Somebody’s going to do it. So we need to adapt or die. That’s really kind of how we see it. There’s enough wine companies. In the way, there’s 250,000 SKUs or so in the US that are buying for distribution in glass bottles. It’s absolutely crazy. So I would say that anything you can do to stand out that preserves the integrity of the wine and speaks as a personality is really helpful with the consumer.

Todd Friedman:

So one of the things along those lines that I wanted to ask you is there’s always this tension in every industry – and I know you are attacked and now you’re in line – and you could say about both that innovation can be driven by or sort of pulled along by the consumer or can be driven by the producer, probably not by the distributor. And so what you’re talking about here is as the producer or standing in place of the producer talking about what we think, you know, if we put this out into the market, it will activate something.

Joshua Hanson:

Yeah.

Todd Friedman:

As opposed to, you know, the consumers are asking for X, Y and Z. Is that a fair characterization of the way that you see innovation?

Joshua Hanson:

Yeah, it depends on the space. I mean, for example, you know, we’re, we have, we’re working on a completely paper wine bottle, for example. It’s made of paper. It’s very light, totally cyclable. That’s taken a long time to get.

Todd Friedman:

What’s the lining?

Joshua Hanson:

It’s a wax, basically. A wax paper. And I’m not exactly sure what the lining is on, but I know that it’s working to protect to protect the wine. But what I can say is that the, you know, whether you’re talking about that, or even using a traditional Tetra pack or some kind of unique aluminum bottle like we talked about earlier, we found that some of them, if you’re talking about a category that already exists, like bag-in-box, you might, to that’s not being bang the wheel. Everybody knows what that is if you put that out. If you’re using something like a paper bottle, which no one’s really ever seen before, then you are assuming that, OK, if people buy in glass, they’re going to be interested in a more ecologically friendly package. It’s also very unique looking. It looks pretty cool. And it definitely sends a message to the world that wine comes from the earth that should actually be in something from the earth, and not necessarily so manipulated as something like a shining glass bottle. So sometimes there’s guessing, but we also do a lot of consumer surveys in our company. So we put them up online. We asked thousands of people, “Hey, what do you think about this?” and we get their opinion. So that way we reduce our risk quite a bit and we also have learned to walk before we run trials. Small trials are really valuable and we always start with the smallest possible quantity we can make up some unique package even if it costs you way more per unit. That’s fine. We’re not trying to be profitable. We’re trying to move the concept.

Todd Friedman:

What does the conversation look like when you go to a distributor and you’re bringing in something new that they don’t have experience with. Even if obviously you’ve vetted it to the point where you think it’s worth taking to market, but how does that conversation go? I assume they’re generally fairly conservative in terms of what they want to put on the shelf and what they, you know, what… that their ambitions are somewhat limited, let’s say, in terms of how far they want to stick their neck out.

Joshua Hanson:

Sure, well, you’re a lawyer, so part of your role in life is to anticipate questions that the other side is going to ask. So that’s really what it is that you’re anticipating what are the questions that the supply chain is going to ask. What are reasonable justification do you need to make to the distributor? What tools are you going to break? What data can you provide? What consumer trends can you show? And you show up with a very pithy presentation that’s just a few slides. You don’t go too deep. But basically, here’s the three reasons why we think that these things are really going to work. And here’s more detail on it, if you want. But what they see, what the distributor sees in that is they say, OK, I can see this translating well to the next link of the chain which is retail. I can see the retailers buying this. I can see the retailer making, that that would make sense to me. Everybody will have their opinions about, you know, what will work and what won’t work. And the more granular or the more, I should say, eclectic the product is, that’s obviously going to have a much smaller audience and you’ll have maybe a harsher reception from some and have more passionate from others. But justifying the reasoning with data and consumer trends as a crucial part of that. If you don’t do that, they’re just trying to take your word for it, and that doesn’t usually work.

Todd Friedman:

What’s your favorite wine story?

Joshua Hanson:

I have a friend who’s a winemaker in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which is in the northeast corner of Italy. His name was Paulo Meduea, and he owns an amazing restaurant there. And his family home is, you know, it’s pretty palatial, it’s beautiful. It’s probably, I don’t know, it’s say 15 to 20 bedrooms and you know a lot of bathrooms and such and it’s been in their family a very long time. And uh, Paulo is a chef and he, you know, always has a greasy apron on. And he’s an amazing wine maker. And he told me a story about in World War 2, the Nazis took over his family’s home and it ended up becoming an officer’s home. And when that happened, Paulo’s father ended up taking their best wine and shoving it into a corner of the cellar, and he hastily built a brick wall to cover it all up. And he said, and then one night, a German soldier was out smoking and walking around the cellar. And he bumped the wall with the butt of his gun and had knocked one of the freshly laid bricks right out. He was like looking through the hole and he was trying to see what was in there. And then and then he ends up, you know, just brushing it off. And Paulo said to me, he said he chose to insult Italian engineering instead of considering Italian _____________.

Todd Friedman:

That’s great. What would you like our audience to know about Small Vineyards?

Joshua Hanson:

Well, I think, you know, our company is a reflection of what we love to do. The people who work here, the estates that we represent, the distributors that we partner with, the restaurants and the stores that we sell to – it really is quite a remarkable, fraternal group. And over time, you know, 20 years goes by so fast because it’s a slow cycle industry in a lot of ways. You only have one ________ a year, of course, and you end up having a series of relationships that you really rely on. So for example, we entered into the pandemic and all of a sudden overnight all the restaurants were closed and half of our business was gone and all of a sudden we found ourselves relying on relationships that were two decades old. And that’s when you really find out, you know, who your real partners are, right? And so I think one of things that that I really love about our company and our industry is the fact that if you treat people well and you do things well and you tell the truth and you work hard and you show up every day with products that really have a lot of personality and integrity, things will work out pretty well. And I think what we have done in the process is managed to keep up with the times in terms of looking at what consumers are actually wanting. I don’t think we’re stuck. And that’s not easy for wine companies to do because wine companies are based in tradition and classicity almost by definition. But we have I think really put a great deal of energy and passion into innovation with our supplier network and tapped into those wineries that are really entrepreneurial in nature. And so I guess what I would say is an encouragement to people who feel maybe they’re stuck is that they can have an opportunity to rethink their business in terms of how do I take the same things that made my wine company great or my company, whatever business I’m in that make it great, and how do I then repurpose those things really for what the market is demanding. And there is risk that will need to be taken. But I’ll tell you what, the risk is, hopefully it’s worth it. But it is absolutely fun. It’s, the heart of business for me is creative destruction of your own business. You know, as a business leader, we have crises all the time, right? That’s what we do, right? Some of them are external and some of them are internal. And the ones that are internal, we intentionally make our own team uncomfortable at times because we have to grow to move into a different direction.

Todd Friedman:

Right.

Joshua Hanson:

And for the business owners out there, I would say, be willing to do that …

Todd Friedman:

Very good.

Joshua Hanson:

… and say goodbyes.

Todd Friedman:

Well, thank you, Joshua. This has been really enjoyable and enlightening. And I’ll say on behalf of all of our audience, we really appreciate the time that that you’ve taken to be on the Deeply Rooted podcast, and look forward to more conversations in the future.

Joshua Hanson:

Thanks, Todd. Appreciate your great partnership in the loss for, well, it’s well over a decade now. So you’ve been kind of an amazing partner for us.

Todd Friedman:

Thank you very much.

Thank you for listening to the Stoel Rives Deeply Rooted podcast. To follow along and get additional insights from each episode, visit stoel.com. Please also take a moment to rate and subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

This is not legal advice, and the podcast does not create a client attorney relationship.

About Stoel Rives | Deeply Rooted Podcast

This season, our hosts are interviewing respected industry leaders and discussing how they, and their companies, are embracing innovation and capitalizing on new opportunities to move their industries forward in an ever-changing world. The first three episodes will be hosted by Claire Mitchell, Merissa Moeller and Kristin Russell of Stoel Rives’ agribusiness, food, beverage and timber industry group.

The views expressed in this podcast are solely those of the individuals involved and may not reflect the views of Stoel Rives LLP. Participation in this podcast by any individual is not an endorsement of any view or opinion expressed.

This is not legal advice and the podcast doesn't create an attorney-client relationship.


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Todd L. Friedman
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