Joe and Vickie Greff
Owners, Winemaker (Joe)
In my early 40s (Joe), we sold off a successful multiple-office insurance business in PA. Yet, I couldn't sit still and, for instance, just sip a glass of wine. Instead, I used the money from the sale of my business to pave the way into the grape industry.
I combined my business experience and my background as a microbiologist to become a grape farmer. That decision has paid off. Along with my wife Vickie, we have amassed 50 acres of vines that's known as Blue Mountain Vineyards and Leaser Lake Vineyards. I admitted that having a winery of this size is a bit more involved. You have to have capital. You don't just plant the vines and it's off to the races. You've got to know what to plant, too, so it's not easy. Not everyone realizes it's a 24-7 job, especially when you're growing and making the wine.
I still look for reasons to explain my interest in farming, but it boils down to two experiences. In my time with the Boy Scouts of America, I achieved Eagle Scout status. Also, I spent a lot of time on my grandfather's dairy farm in Albany. That was enough to know that I liked farming, but I didn't want to be a dairy farmer!
Our grape experience began in California where Vickie and I met. We both liked wine, and I was drawn to the science. It took a few years to find the right buyer for the insurance business, as well as Vickie's assurance to leap into this. I couldn't have done this without her support, but she had her doubts. She had security, income, and this was a new venture. I let her ruminate over it for more than a year before doing it. We had (and still have) the passion, but this also had to make sense. Vickie is the one who found the first tract of land, the 38 acres of rolling hills in New Tripoli. It had been farmed, but traditionally with corn, soybean or alfalfa. One year later, we purchased it. The rest, they say, is history.
At this stage, it is more than a business. it's about family and pride and the drive now that we've risen and put so much into it. We could never jeopardize what we've created. Any successful business ought to be that way. it's not just wine. It's not just Blue Mountain Vineyards.
Assistant Winemaker, Vineyard/Production Manager
I was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley. I love working on a farm and getting dirty, which is what drew me to BMV. Also, the days are never the same. I'm always doing something different from the vineyard to the cellar, and producing the best wine in Pennsylvania.
I'm often out and about in the vineyard or in the cellar, so if you see me, say hi!