Co-owner/vice president in charge of marketing Elk Run Vineyards, Mount Airy
Years in business: 25
Salary: $30,000 to $35,000
How she started: Carol Wilson and her husband, Fred, began in the late 1970s as amateur wine makers. They later ran a nursery that specialized in classic European grape vines. After looking for two years for a farm to begin their vineyard, they found their current location and started the operation in 1983. It includes a historic house, where the Wilsons live, with 24 acres in grapes. Prior to operating the vineyard, Carol Wilson taught dance at McDaniel College in Westminster. She continued to work part-time for the first nine years of owning the vineyard.
On growing grapes: She begins vineyard tours by saying she is a farmer. "If you look at us compared to a brewery, we are definitely farmers. But it's different from farming in that the end product is so diverse and really rather romantic. It's a leisure product."
Typical day: She starts in the fields, before it gets too hot, tending to the grapes. Four full-time employees help run the vineyard. During a typical day, she does a lot of administrative work such as returning e-mails, answering phone calls and filling orders. Wilson also works in the tasting room and gift shop. She also meets with suppliers and distributors and organizes special events, including wine festivals, dinners, tastings and tours. The vineyard is open Tuesday through Sunday. Every Friday, from May through November, the vineyard holds Wine Down Friday and Open Mike Night. Special events are held throughout the year.
Harvest time: Runs September through November. "The majority of our harvest is done by volunteers. It's really fun. We have big lunches, drink wine, pick grapes and meet interesting people. It's a dangerous time to go out to a vineyard in the fall because someone will hand you a pair of clippers."
Biggest misconception: "That we are all wealthy. And that because it's grown in your own backyard, it must be inexpensive."
The good: The people. "You meet very interesting people and people appreciate your product."
The bad: The people. "We're here, we live here and it's very hard to get away. And the vineyard needs continual care all the time."
Her favorite wine from Elk Run: Gewurztraminer. She says the white wine is spicy, with just a hint of sweetness, and goes well with spicy food and ham.