Vintage Management

By Sally Anne Flecker | Fall 2012

Garrett Busch (MBA '10, MGT '09) is turning around his family's winery

Garrett Busch had things all figured out. With his 2010 MBA earned hot on the heels of a 2009 bachelor’s in management entrepreneurship, he set out to build a career as a consultant to small businesses. And he had a juicy first assignment to help build his portfolio: Trinitas Cellars, a boutique winery in Napa Valley. Trinitas had been the leaky barrel in the suite of businesses owned by Busch’s family, consistently losing money. Busch’s job was to get it moving in the right direction.

He spent that summer getting to know the business more intimately and digging down into the financials. Trinitas had gone almost a year without a full-time general manager, so hiring the right person to run the company was one of the first orders of business. But when the new GM quit after only three weeks, Busch offered to jump in as interim. After a few months, it seemed clear that the right guy for the job was, in fact, Garrett Busch. He was 23 years old, and he’s never looked back.

The wine, Busch says, speaks for itself. “Our style of winemaking is very true to traditional California-style winemaking—fruit forward, very smooth, lots of flavor. It’s much more New World style versus your Old World French or Italian styles, which is funny because a lot of California wineries are trying to replicate those styles, even though we’re in California.”

Running a winery sounds glamorous, Busch concedes. “But the inner workings still have to make sense and work to get to the endgame.” With attention to costs, organizational set-up, pricing, product line-up and marketing, Busch has turned the winery’s bottom line around from losses of $800,000–$1 million on about $2 million in annual revenue. Now two years later, with revenues at $2.5 million, it looks like Trinitas will make its first profit. And you can bet the corks will be popping for that one.