Everyone knows an MBA from Fuqua can have an incredible effect on one’s career. However, not everyone can fully anticipate the dramatic impact the Fuqua network can have on one’s life. Anthony Hsu and Dave Lane, both members of Fuqua’s Global Executive MBA Class of 2002, learned that no matter how many years pass after you graduate, you can still depend on the Team Fuqua community. The two met for the first time while students, and having gone their separate ways after graduation, years passed between hearing from one another. That is, until Anthony called Dave with some very interesting news in late 2014.
“He purchased a large property in Napa Valley that he wanted me to look at and help him with,” said Dave, president and chief operating officer at Terlato Wines. That property, now known as the serenely beautiful Maxville Winery, boasts the most impressive tasting room in the Chiles Valley, an American Viticultural Area nestled in the Vaca Mountains of California.
“Chiles Valley is an amazing sub-appellation of Napa Valley,” Dave said. “It is lesser-known, but it’s a very distinct growing area that creates red wines and Bordeaux varieties of intense complexity and age worthiness. Add state-of-the-art fermentation and storage areas—a cave deep in the mountain, for instance—and you have all elements of a great wine environment and product.”
“The decision to purchase the winery was to diversify our current product line from spirits to wine, adding and expanding additional market share of our wine to other parts of the world,” said Anthony, chief executive officer at Oranos Group, an asset management entity in the Bay Area. “Furthermore, we believe being authentic in the business of wine is important. Meaning, knowing the wine itself is grown, harvested, and made from your own vineyard rather than just purchasing the juice.”
The land, purchased in late 2013, initially came with its own set of obstacles. “The challenge to become a full-service winery turned out to be a very costly decision. Everything from remodeling the entire real estate and landscape, replacing and updating wine-making equipment, and adding features of attractions are all very costly items we did not fully anticipate from the very beginning,” he said, “and my inexperience in running a winery operation, as well as selling wines into a complicated marketplace, proved to be even more daunting. I then turned to my good friend Dave, who I knew had been in the wine business for decades.”
That first phone call between the two former classmates didn’t happen until a year after Maxville was acquired. “I left him a voicemail, but he jumped out of a board meeting and called me back in less than 30 minutes. It was very surprising and appreciated,” Anthony said. After exchanging scenarios and sharing their stories, only a few months passed before Dave was flying out to visit the property.
“The Terlato Family is committed to developing quality wines and doing so with partners they trust. I told Bill Terlato to come visit Anthony with me to experience some really great but little known wines, and he was interested,” Dave said. “Further, when I told Bill about Anthony and my shared history at Duke, it was even more enticing to him because two of Bill’s kids are Duke graduates, and so is our General Counsel, Michael Perlberg. It seemed pre-destined.”
"Every time we are together, Anthony reminds me about being balanced, calm, and good to the people you work with. I have always believed that, but I’m also happy to see an alumnus that I work so closely with espousing and living that way."
And perhaps it was. Their favorite Fuqua memories include residency travel and meeting a broad spectrum of people from different geographic places and life experiences. “The Global Executive MBA curriculum enhanced reinforcing character traits like trust, friendship, honor, loyalty, and support,” Anthony said.
“Every time we are together, Anthony reminds me about being balanced, calm, and good to the people you work with. I have always believed that, but I’m also happy to see an alumnus that I work so closely with espousing and living that way,” Dave said.
Aside from sharing the same program and class year, Anthony and Dave also have similar opinions on wine itself. They have the same favorite Maxville wine—the Petit Syrah—and also agree that out of all the residencies they visited during their Global Executive MBA program, Chile had the best wines. Outside of work, both enjoy hiking, being outdoors, and maintaining an active lifestyle.
While they learned much at Fuqua, the Maxville endeavor has tested their MBA skills. There were some unexpected trials, such as tariffs exchanged between the United States and China complicating the growth of the wine business in China. However, a large additional benefit to a partnership between Maxville and Terlato was the opening of a shared distributorship and wine business in China. Maxville’s parent company, Qinghai Barely Group, is a large manufacturer and distributor of China’s number one spirit, Baijiu. “They plugged our wines into their network in China and are now our China agents. A very big market for us. We plan to launch Tibetu Baijiu Whiskey with them in the United States this year. A very well-rounded partnership has formed,” Dave said.
They have also created a new brand called Big Max, which will bring forward big, full-flavored wines. While the Terlato wineries will be producing them, the Maxville team will bring this brand to life and showcase them at the Maxville facility. Launching at $30 per bottle, they sold out the entire first 8,000-case allotment in the first two months of launching the brand. “This is a rare thing to do with a new-to-market wine and stands as testament to the good work we have done to date as Maxville and Terlato,” Dave said.
"Learn to understand others in order to make each deal successful. Execute without fear. Fail without regret and failure is never fatal. Most importantly, honesty is an absolute virtue in any entrepreneurship."
“I have learned so much throughout these years of arduous experience and have become passionate about wine making. I am committed to the land and the heritage we are surrounded by as well as the history our predecessor has left us with,” Anthony said.
Through their global business experiences, Anthony and Dave know that focus and patience are crucial to any entrepreneurial endeavor. “Assess rationally, plan carefully, expand the capacity to learn, and increase the tolerance for mistakes. Learn to understand others in order to make each deal successful. Execute without fear. Fail without regret and failure is never fatal. Most importantly, honesty is an absolute virtue in any entrepreneurship,” Anthony said.
“Every year I grow older the more and more I believe that you need to go for it. Press up and put ideas into action. Don’t get stuck on details,” Dave said. “If you put ideas into action, you will learn no matter what, and you may even come up with a breakthrough idea that is truly rewarding.”
Leveraging the Fuqua network doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as picking up the phone, sending an e-mail, or attending a Fuqua or Duke event.
“Team Fuqua means partnership, togetherness, understanding, and unity with a common goal; it means expanding upon combined strength and supporting each other’s weaknesses,” Anthony said.
“Working together was simple. We met, sat down, and shared our ideas. We trusted each other,” Dave said, “and the basis of that trust allowed us to bring in other partners and contribute to the venture’s success.”
“And the rest is history.”
Curious to learn more about Maxville Winery?