One Thanksgiving, I accepted an invitation to have dinner with a group of relatives I didn’t know very well. The host was my cousin Ray who had followed in his family’s tradition of owning and operating a farm in southern Minnesota that raised corn and soybeans.
Shortly after dinner was over, he came over to visit with me. Two years earlier he had turned several acres of his farm into a vineyard, a rather unusual crop in that part of the world.
Of course, I was curious about how he’d decided to do so. He told me he’d spent a couple of years doing his homework, talking to other vineyard owners, traveling to seminars and consulting with the University of Minnesota.
In his second year of production, his crop outperformed all expectations. He was excited about selling his grapes to a vintner, but said he had plans to eventually produce his own wine and, perhaps, build a tasting room that would also be a place for weddings and other community events.
On my drive home that day, I could stop thinking about Ray’s passion. New visions, new learnings, new adventures have a way of awakening creativity and enthusiasm.
I made several visits to Winterhaven Vineyards before I moved from Minnesota. Ray was always delighted to share his progress. The vineyards were beautiful and Ray seemed proud and a little surprised to see what he was bringing to life.
A mere six years later, the vision that Ray shared with me on that Thanksgiving day has come to life. The winery is buzzing with activity and has, as my sister Margaret said, breathed new life into the little town whence I come. There’s live music, a restaurant, class reunions, and other lively gatherings.
Ray has created a collection of profit centers all rooted in his new passion.
Last week, they were awarded the Farm Family of the Year for their county. Their California relatives were jumping for joy at the news.
Watching Ray’s vision come to life has been a powerful reminder that when we are going down a new path that excites us, our imagination awakens in ways that can surprise and delight us.
He also reminds me that we can make money without the fun, as he did all those years growing corn and soybeans.
Happily, he discovered that money without the fun is only a partial payment.