Monica & Alex Villicana
Tell us about your business.In 1993, My husband and I began the endeavor of building our boutique winery (Villicana Winery) from the ground up (yes, we planted the vineyard ourselves). We were in our mid-twenties, working in L.A., with a passion for wine. It was a lofty dream as we didn't have a nest egg, but we did have a great work ethic. We kept our jobs in L.A. and drove to Paso Robles each weekend to plant & farm our vineyard and craft our wines. Eventually, we were able to build a small winery & tasting room, and after 8 years of commuting 3 hours each way, we decided to throw caution to the wind by leaving our jobs to see if we could make the winery financially viable. We had to pick up part-time jobs along the way, but eventually, we were both full-time with Villicana Winery. We farmed the vineyard, made the wines, worked the tasting room, & had 2 small children to raise. In 2012, we obtained our distilling license so we could sustainably distill our premium, free-run juice into top-shelf spirits.
What makes your business stand out?We are a distillery that was born from our established boutique winery (1993) in an effort to become more sustainable. We are the only distillery that uses the premium, free-run juice from the winemaking process (the portion that is typically discarded) to distill an ultra-premium vodka and gin. This is truly a sustainable business concept. In fact, Re:Find has been so well received that we are now purchasing the discarded free-run juice (saignée) from other local wineries which turns their discards into a little money while increasing our production. Another benefit of our business model is that Re:Find is keeping our leach fields healthier. We are currently working with local, Paso Robles based brewers to launch our Re:Find bourbon and rye program. We believe in local, handcrafted, and sustainable products. Products that have a person behind it who pours their heart into their craft.
What's the best business advice you've received?When we first dreamed of getting into the wine business we were told it was unattainable. We were repeatedly told,"The only way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a large fortune." Until one day, a winery owner told us, "If you do the work yourself, invest slowly, and show patience you can have a very nice life." Admidst all the other advice, this was the morsel of advice we heard. Both sets of parents also encouraged us in this dream. Their mindset was that we were young, weren't afraid of working, didn't have children, and weren't accustomed to a "just so" lifestyle, so this was the time to follow our dreams. Afterall, if it didn't work out, we didn't lose our nest egg (we didn't have one) and we could always get a job. But most importantly, we wouldn't have the "what if" constantly lingering in back of our minds. Everyday we are thankful for that one winery owner's piece of advice and our parents continual encouragement and support!
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