[caption id="attachment_24824" align="alignright" width="216" caption="Pete Opatz"][/caption]
Vice president and senior viticulturist, Silverado Premium Properties
855 Bordeaux Way, Ste. 100, Napa 94558, 707-253-1776
Professional background: Career winegrower and winegrape buyer
Education: St. Helena High School
What do you see as the essential role of a leader in the current environment? Working with my fellow growers to shape the future regulatory landscape. As with the entire state of California, the North Coast too has its water issues and will be the focus of regulation for many years to come.
What are the biggest changes you've seen in your industry? Consolidation of wine brands. We still have not realized the full impact of this push of the last decade. Secondly is the regulatory burden on farm enterprises. Here I see no light at the end of the tunnel. Government has and is expanding at a rate much greater than the private sector can comply with. There is little regard to unintended consequences that all regulation brings to bear. Granted regulation and especially a stakeholder regulatory process are often necessary to keep the balance with our communities’ resources. Most regulation moves forward in a vacuum without tested science, very different from theoretical science. Unfortunately the latter is where we find much of the current regulatory world.
What advice would you give to young emerging leaders? This is an ageless concept that is now more important than ever, “Just because you do not have an interest in government, it doesn’t mean your government doesn’t have an interest in you.” Be involved or don’t complain. It is not enough to just throw money at a problem any longer, it requires direct engagement.
What's the best advice for weathering today's economic environment? Micromanage your overhead expenses. Be agile and flexible in all efforts. Do not waste time on last-minute decisions, be prepared with multiple options. Opportunities are fewer and pass quickly. In order to survive and even prosper, act, don’t react.
How do you think your business will change in the next five years? We will have fewer places to market our grapes in the traditional manner. I see the same pressure to deliver exceptional value for our ultimate customers, the consumer. I also see more grower wine, aka the bulk wine market, evolving into a larger percentage of the annual crush.
What is a decision you wish you hadn't made? What did you learn from it? A couple of key items for me have stuck in my daily work. First is establishing a vineyard. I have been guilty of passing my responsibility off to a winemaker’s desire to use less than the highest quality plant materials. This is a long-term endeavor, and every part of your decision-making process will come to bear in the lifetime of that vineyard. Plant materials are all too often not given the attention they require. Using substandard plant materials will shorten the productive life of the vineyard, period. Second is about people working with you. If the people around you do not share the same vision, valuable resources are wasted. I have attempted to impose my view onto others. Not the best approach. Invest in the right person, and your investment will pay handsomely.