It's a dream come true to own a family business. I started this dream back in 2009 when I abandoned my full time wine sales and marketing career and went back to school to study winemaking.
I launched Leah Jorgensen Cellars on a shoestring budget and for my first vintage I produced just one barrel of the first white Cabernet Franc in the States - that's 750 pounds of grapes which came to just 23 cases of wine.
Fast forward nearly a decade and I'm now producing 1800 cases of wine. I have done most of the work all by myself. I've had some help from friends. I've hired a few very part-time workers to assist here and there. And when I met the love of my life - we got married and he got to start cleaning wine presses!
We got married last summer and now have an adorable baby boy! I can no longer manage the business without real help. Motherhood is the most important thing in my life but I don't want to abandon my precious "other baby" - my business.
My pregnancy and postpartum experience was challenging. I had a long road to recovery - which meant my business suffered.
I got behind in sales - it takes years for a wine business to become profitable. I'm nowhere near that point - so every dime counts to keep us alive and pay for the exorbitant production costs. You only have one harvest per year - just one crop to base your annual production.
We've been shopping around for the right investor - but that hasn't happened yet! We need help to pay for production costs from both last year and ahead for this year. We are cutting back on production this year to make up from my time out on "maternity leave" (a.k.a. healing from a birth injury and postpartum depression).
My fear is that I have to shut the business down. It's crazy how far behind we got after I gave birth to our son. I have received outpouring love and support from friends and customers who have encouraged me to start a crowd funding campaign to help us get back on track.
Having the capital to stay in the game would mean everything to me! I
can't imagine not making my wine. Over the years I have been blessed with incredible media love:
Wine Enthusiast just included me in a story on "Oregon's Cutting Edge Winemakers" (January 2019); in February, Forbes.com had a feature story on me, ironically, discussing managing winemaking and motherhood; and in March 2018 Food & Wine included me among the top 15 women winemakers in the world (!!!)
We need funds immediately to help pay off our costs for bottling, last year's production and cushioning ourselves for the 2019 harvest. The funds will also help us pay for help, since I'm caring for our young son and cannot do the work myself.
I don't know if I can adequately express what the support of our community would mean to me. Really, I want to show my son that it's okay to ask for help, that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, and maybe most importantly - that his mother was a leader in her industry and literally made something from nothing.
I didn't have a trust fund, an inheritance or a lucrative career that afforded me this dream. I had faith, education and I suppose a stubborn will to do this on my own.
I meant well - but you can't do something like this on your own!
So, I am humbly asking for help. Pride aside, this is one of the hardest things I've had to do, I know the greater good from asking for help will manifest in my desire and ability to "pay it forward" - supporting causes I care about, causes that enrich my community and help in building a kinder, better world for my son to grow up in!
Thank you for considering my gentle appeal.