|A Desperate Man
Bishop sat back in his chair and swiveled around to look out the window positioned behind his dark cherry wood desk. He actually hated the dark cherry wood furnishings in his office. He had wanted to have the place redecorated. He wanted the clean spare lines of glass and black powder-coated steel that made up the desk and shelving of his office in California. He longed to rip out the old carved wood paneled walls surrounding this lone window and put in a whole bank of windows. He detested the fascination with the antiquated antebellum architecture thing. He could not comprehend this need for the populace of this area to celebrate their heritage, the connections to the past. He longed for that clean, sterile modern environment he left on the west coast, both his office and his wineries.
He never really cared what others in the industry thought of his business model. He had had enough money left to him by his family and that inheritance enabled him to acquire wineries and estates that were on the brink of going under and add them to his growing portfolio. While keeping the names of the estates, he remodeled them to his liking. That they never produced anything more than mediocre wines at best was of no concern to him. He learned early on that it was mostly a tourist driven economy in the Napa region. He knew that a lot of the people that passed through his facilities would only be coming through this one time in their lives.
He finally got bored with the day-to-day operations on the west coast and decided he wanted to expand his business dealings. He left the business out west in the capable hands of his brother and went east to the Viticulture area of Virginia to set up shop. He managed to find a few people willing to sell their businesses. Bishop was a man who prided himself on being a successful business man and it galled him to have to admit he may have made a mistake coming east. He was just egotistical enough to convince himself that he would succeed here, despite that local opinion of him.
He had just spent the last hour going over the books for the few wineries he had bought out. He was staying afloat, but not making the profits envisioned. It did not help that his wineries were dropped by a few of the local tour companies. He learned that feedback from locals and tourists alike, had been less that complimentary. Once the word started getting around, more of the tour companies began to phase out stops at his facilities. It never occurred to him that perhaps if his estates produced a better product and his facilities were more appealing to the public, people would be willing to come back. It also did not help that at regional tastings and competitions his wines never received awards beyond an honorable recommendation usually afforded a newcomer to the region.
He knew he needed to get his hands on an established wine estate. But most of the businesses, were family owned and passed to succeeding generations. Most were in the hands of early retirees and none were ready to kick the bucket yet. He had approached one old guy out in the Shendoah River Valley region, but he wasn't selling. The old man was holding out hope that the grandson would take over. This old man came from old money and definitely had an intriguing family history. It was rumored that the old man was ill. Bishop knew he had to keep an eye on this operation. As with his other acquisitions, timing was everything. That coupled with the fact that the grandson was getting ready to go into his senior year of college, Bishop knew he needed to be ready to pounce. If the grandson was anything like his own lazy excuse of a son, he would take the money offered and go on his way.
Bishop saw this as the only way to gain a foothold into the ranks of Virginia's better vintners and to save what was beginning to look like a failed experiment for him. His brother was having a modicum of success with the businesses out west and that was another constant source of annoyance. His wife was also beginning to complain loud and long about the lack of entry into the local social scene. The decreased revenue stream only compounded matters. No wonder he was in such a foul mood.
Bishop drew a deep breath. He wasn't one given to fits of worry. But if there was one think he did worry about it was the lack of money. That worry could lead to desperate and careless action. And as much as he hated to admit it, he was getting desperate.