Ron Goerler Jr. was by his father’s side in 1986 when they bought the barn where Jamesport Vineyards sits, and he has been a part of the business ever since. At that time, they were selling bottles of wine for $5.
“When we bought this old barn, we had no idea what we were doing,” he said with a laugh. They wanted to create an experience for people on the North Fork, more than just selling wine, so they frequently brought in local oysters to sell and live music for people to listen to. But Ron Goerler Jr. remembers when his father, Ron Goerler Sr., and he would disagree on where the business could go.
“It was always like that,” he said. “Son wanting to do this, father wanting to do that. But I learned from that — that there is compromise in business. You have to be able to look at both points of view to allow the business to grow.” The compromise and change brought about by these two generations allowed Jamesport Vineyards to flourish into the business it is today, a winery complete with a tasting room, full service pizza kitchen and a patio out back.
“We’ve now progressed to where it’s table seating, full menu, the kitchen,” he said. “I think that’s the next thing, for the next generation to be able to look at and say, ‘okay, we’ve gotten this to this point, can we enhance that?’”
For Ron Goerler Jr., the next generation is his two youngest daughters, Sarah, 21, and Olivia, 16, who both work at the vineyard.
“I do a lot of the back end stuff — wholesale, running errands, getting stuff to the kitchen,” Sarah said, though her official title is head of retail operations. “I started working here when I was 12. Just cleaning glasses and then running food and then hostessing and then doing what I’m doing now. I enjoy it, but in the future, who knows what it will hold?”
Olivia works in the kitchen and busses tables. “I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else,” she said. “I love working with my family.” Like her sister, she’s unsure if she will work here in the future and completely take over the business. Their two older siblings at the moment are off working in other fields.
“They have to follow the passions that they want.” their father said.
Now that the family business is involving the third generation, Ron Goerler Jr. said his experience working with dad makes him more open to hearing ideas from the next generation.
“If the kids have new ideas, I’m more than happy to allow them to express that,” he said.
No matter where the third generation ends up, from a business perspective, having them work here is beneficial for their future.
“My dad was in the plumbing manufacturing business, and I started at the bottom, sweeping the floors in the plumbing business at the end of the day,” Ron Goerler Jr. said. “[Olivia] is learning from the ground up. And I think any generation, they have to see the bottom in order to experience what they can figure out the growth is going to be in the business.”