Earlier this summer, over 50 people gathered at the T.V. Munson Viticulture and Enology Center on the Grayson College West Extension Campus to attend “Kick Start their Craft Beverage Careers” hosted by Texoma Craft Beverage Alliance. Upon reviewing our attendees, the majority were there to hear about winery start-up details. Would be brewers and distillers followed suit with their information gathering as well.
The full day’s agenda began with an overview of concepts and definitions of a winery, brewery, and distillery presented by Gabe Parker, owner of Homestead Winery and Ivanhoe Ale Works in Denison.
An extensive and action packed conversation about legal matters and permitting was led by attorney Katy David from Strasburger & Price, LLP. The group enjoyed great discussions ranging from the benefits of the Texas Agri-tourism Act to Intellectual Property Protection to Public Performance of Music to Non-Competes and Non-Disclosures. She has already committed to presenting again in 2017.
Karen Stidham from the Small Business Development Center of North Texas (SBDC), based at Grayson College, provided a tremendous amount of information and resources about writing and developing a business plan, where to research and seek help to prepare for seeking financing, and more. She asked the room, “What is your appetite for risk? Are you prepared to go without income for maybe 18 months or more?” Did you know every county has a thriving Small Business Development Center? Did you also know small businesses who engage with the SBDC average 17.6% sales growth per year compared to the average Texas business who averages 6.2% and doesn’t work with the SBDC?
William Myers, VP of Denison Development Alliance (DDA), shared about DDA’s successes and continued desire to work with newcomers to the craft beverage industry who seek community funding and local support to grow and develop business at the grass roots level. Because Denison is in Grayson County, William is well acquainted with many Grayson County communities and ready, willing, and able to support the craft beverage industry. He made it clear communities within the other three counties which make up the Texoma AVA (Cooke, Montague, and Fannin) are also interested in promoting and welcoming potential craft beverage businesses to their Main Streets and revitalizing areas of their communities.
When the time came to discuss Distribution and Growth Opportunities, Jeremy Roberts of 903 Brewers captured the crowd’s attention with the question, “Where do you want your product to go?” He not only provided some great stories about his experiences as the owner, brewer, sometimes truck driver, and sometimes shelf stocker extraordinaire, but he did so in a fun, animated, and humorous way. The business of craft brewing is serious, and 903 is experiencing tremendous growth. Jeremy and his wife, Natalie, are dedicated, hands on owners modeling the way for other ambitious craft brewers. He also provided the tip to include on product labels the tour information and hours open to the public for your chosen craft beverage product.
The conference concluded with some high-level fermentation science discussion led by Michael Jones from Scott Laboratories based in Petaluma, California. Michael engaged with the group through his extensive knowledge and elaborate detailing of malolactic fermentation (MLF). He provided a handout including an MLF Scorecard to help winemakers assess the malolactic fermentation potential of a wine.
In the evening following the conference at Grayson College’s Black Box Theater, many participants attended a wine and cheese reception. The Texas Non-Commercial Wine Competition awards including the T.V. Munson Cup were presented at the Black Box Theater. Additionally, the first ever Non-Commercial Beer Awards were presented.
Next year’s conference has been set for Saturday, June 10, 2017. Save the date! If you are interested in further information, go to the Texoma Craft Beverage Alliance website.