We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Our remote team got to spend some time together. In the same place. At the same time. And it was awesome.

We all know the feeling. You’ve talked to someone for years...could be a vendor, your fulfillment house contact, your Riedel rep...You talk all the time, but you’ve never met them in person. You think you KNOW what he or she looks like, right? You picture them in your head when you’re speaking to them. You’ve never shaken hands, and yet you know their kids’ names. You’ve never shared a meal, and yet they know that you meditate each and every morning. You’ve never been in the same room, and yet you collaborate beautifully to problem-solve. You’ve developed a rapport and a way of communicating without the benefit of body language and facial expressions.

And then the time comes when you meet in person for the first time. Wait, what?? I thought you had BLOND hair! You have a BEARD?? And what’s the story behind your tattoos?? It’s weird and awesome all at once.

That’s what happened for the VineSpring team for the first time ever. You may or may not know that we all work remotely from the wilds of CA, CO and NV. We don’t go into an office each day. We don’t have a water cooler. Some of us have been working closely with one another for 4 or more years and have never met in person. We decided it was time! So, with that, all 14 of us descended on Breckenridge, Colorado, for several amazing days of camaraderie, team-building and just plain hanging out.

First, let’s start with the house. This house was straight out of Architectural Digest. The picture above was taken on the enormous deck off of the main floor. The house was big enough to easily sleep all of us, and the kitchen/dining/living great room was expansive and comfortable. The views of the Rockies were quite literally, unbelievable.  

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Did we see wildlife? Well, you could say that. The accordion window-doors were often left open between the main floor and the deck. One morning we were all on the lower level having a team meeting and we hear the tinkling of dishes. We all look at each other and quickly deduce that we are all accounted for. Who...or what...could it be making that sound in the kitchen? We slowly, quietly ascend the stairs. Once at the top, we see nothing out of place. The room looks totally normal - and there’s no one there. We then tiptoe out onto the deck and that’s when we discover the culprit. Up on a brick pillar is a tiny squirrel. That wouldn’t be so strange except that he was eating an ENORMOUS piece of chocolate that he’d absconded with from the kitchen counter. This was not our last encounter with this little fellow. He. is. no. dummy.

Among the many highlights of the retreat was a trip to Breckenridge Distillery, at 9000+ ft, it’s the ‘highest distillery in the United States’. We were treated to an after-hours tour and tasting and then an incredible dinner in their private ‘Black Arts’ room. Did we enjoy all of the bourbon, vodka, rum and gin? Hmmm. Let’s just say, what happens in Breckenridge, stays in Breckenridge.

You might be surprised to learn that way up there, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, there also lives a winery. Carboy Winery, a VineSpring client, was one of our team’s much-anticipated stops. Some of us ordered a white flight or a red flight (both were delicious). And then some of us ordered a fantastic and fun frozen drink made with their Rose (called...wait for it...a ‘Froze’) which was equally delightful. The staff’s friendliness and hospitality were awesome, and we won’t soon forget the elevator ride down, down, down to the cellar with the winemaker, Patric Matysiewski. He was kind enough to discuss Carboy’s winemaking style and a bit of their history in the region. We also spied a peculiar punch-down that he was experimenting with...rhubarb from out back. Apparently, there is a LOT of it...and you can only make so many pies!

Another huge highlight was our trip to an 'Escape Room'. Ever tried one? You’re basically in a locked room and need to work together to find clues to solve a mystery or crazy adventure. We were split into two groups. One group had to solve a 1950’s starlet’s murder before the killer came back, and the other group had to diffuse a bomb before it blew everyone to smithereens. Both groups succeeded with only seconds to spare! SO MUCH FUN.

And finally - but certainly just as important - was our time spent as a team discussing the business of VineSpring. Where has VineSpring been? Where is VineSpring going? Not only did we discuss individual departments, but also VineSpring as a whole. With regard to employees, how do we continue to be a regenerative company as opposed to an extractive one? Spoiler alert: When you trust, empower and nurture your employees, you get the best out of them...and by extension, their work helps to propel the company to excel in its niche. Many new ideas were tossed around and discussed. We all had a say. We were all heard. We did some great work in those sessions.

With all of the good food, great wine,  and amazing conversation, we are all still radiant and inspired from the experience. And you know what we realized? We are truly blessed to work with a group of folks who we deeply resonate with not only from a business standpoint, but from a personal perspective as well. We were a rock-solid team before the retreat, but the time spent together solidified our bonds even more.

Britney Yunker