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Trading the Corporate World for the Vineyard

By Columns FOXBusiness

Trading the Corporate World for the Vineyard

Bill Price, Owner of Classic Wine, explains his journey from a founder of one of the largest private equity firms to owner and investor of several wine ventures in California.

It’s so easy to pour a glass of wine and forget that an actual business was needed to make that bottle.

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But Bill Price knows that firsthand, and he's merged his business acumen with his passion for wine ever-so smoothly.

Price has an extensive business background and is one of the three co-founders of TPG Capital, one of the largest global private equity firms. But in 2007 he decided to leave TPG to focus on his love of wine.

He now owns Durell Vineyards, which has 150 acres of pinot noir, chardonnay, and syrah in Sonoma County. He founded Three Sticks Winery in 2002, a boutique, family-owned winery committed to creating small-lot artisanal wines. He later bought stakes in Buccella and the more high-end wines of Kistler Vineyards. He is a founder of The Vincraft Group, a winery acquisition fund that purchased the Kosta Browne Winery and Gary Farrell.

So he is still investing capital – he’s just investing it in vineyards now.

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But often times people forget about the business side when they start making wine for a living. “Too many people get in the wine business because they love wine. I always tell people to make sure you know how to SELL wine. Five hundred cases is not a lot of wine, unless it is sitting in your garage.”

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But that is how his corporate America background is helping him succeed. And while there are similarities -- “In both you need a good strategy and good people.”  -- there are certainly differences.

“I spend a lot of my time out walking and talking to people in the vineyards, it’s a wonderful lifestyle change.”

In addition, Price is enjoying spending days with people who are passionate about their business.  “No one goes into finance because they found a fantastic spreadsheet.”

So the moral here? Do what you’re passionate about, but use your business sense to turn your passion… into profit.

Cent ‘Anni.

Questions for Our Wine Pro:

What is your death row wine?

 My death row wine would be a 1985 Krug Clos Du Mesnil Champagne, to celebrate a great life!

What region produces the best wine?

Burgundy is still the King of pinot noir, though Sonoma is the crown prince.

What is the best wine and food pairing you’ve ever had?

Duck in a red currant reduction and Three Sticks “The James”  pinot noir

What will the U.S. wine industry look like in 10 years?

It  will be celebrating  its 60th  consecutive year of  growth and pinot noir will tie cabernet as the most popular red varietal.