Where does it all begin? With a decision. On May 12, 1981, Bill and Sandy Schmiling signed the papers to purchase von Stiehl from Dr. Charles Stiehl (AKA Doc). Bill wanted the change; Sandy was not a happy camper. The young parents breathed new life into the 14 year-old winery, known only for cherry and apple varieties. Bill took over the jobs of owner, winemaker, marketer, salesman, delivery driver, tasting room manager, etc. Sandy managed the schedule and drove the bus for tours and tastings. It was small business at its overwhelmingly best. 2,100 cases of cherry and 200 cases of apple wines were produced and sold that year. Given the equipment, that was a LOT of wine! Eight year old Aric (almost 9) and seven year old Brad came along for the ride in the 80s. There was some child labor involved. Those scrawny kids could fit into a lot of small places with a scouring pad. They were taught the basics of sanitation, lawn care, and property maintenance. Everybody did every job. In Bill’s words, “I wouldn’t ask someone to do something that I wasn’t willing to do.” The boys are still ‘the boys’, even though they took ownership in 2003. Wine production may be a bit larger now, and things might be a little more established, but the core principles are the same. One can’t help but recall this simple advice, “The decisions you make determine the direction that your life takes”. Let’s add that they determine the direction of the lives of family too. Cheers to Bill and Sandy for paving the way in the last 40 years. Thank you to Jamie and Shaun for marrying ‘the boys’ and helping with the family mission.
Who’s in the mood to celebrate right now? Alright, well, then let’s plan to celebrate at some point in the coming year