Getting to Know Your Jowler Creek Family: Owner and CEO Colleen Gerke
Colleen Gerke, along with her husband Jason, own and operate Jowler Creek Vineyard and Winery in Platte County, Mo. They work to sustainably grow grapes, produce quality wines that pair well with regional cuisine. In addition to making and marketing wine, Jason and Colleen graze sheep and poultry in their sustainably-managed vineyard.
Colleen grew up in the heart of California’s Central Coast wine country. While in college at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, she studied Agricultural Communications. During her Senior year she had the opportunity to take either a chemistry or winemaking class to fulfill her science requirement and, luckily, she chose winemaking!
In college, she had the chance to complete an internship in Kansas City for the summer. She’d never lived more than 15-miles from the beach and had no intention of ever leaving California, but thought spending the summer in the Midwest would be a good way to try something new for a few months, then she could come home to California and would never have to leave again. But, she ended up falling in love with the Midwest - and Jason - and decided to move back to Kansas City after graduating from college.
We posed a few, fun questions to find out a little more about our Jowler Creek owner and CEO.
Q: What's your favorite thing about being a winery owner and CEO?
A: I don’t like sitting still for very long and don’t like working on a single task for a long amount of time, so my current job is pretty perfect for me as there’s always something new and different to do each day. One day I’m out being a farmer pruning grapevines, the next I’m analyzing spreadsheets forecasting our winemaking needs for the next season. Then the next day doing an off-site tasting at one of our retail locations sharing our wine and meeting new customers. Sharing our wine and visiting with customers is definitely the best part!
Q: What did you want to be when you were a child?
A: A marine biologist. I lived 15-minutes from the beach in California and loved snorkeling and exploring the tide pools. I even spent one summer at a remote Sea Camp on Catalina Island. I never thought I’d leave the ocean, yet, here I am about as far away as you can get from it in the middle of the United States.
Q: What book has impacted you the most?
A: One of my favorite business books is the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. It really helped get us on the right track when we were starting our business years ago and is filled with tons of practical tips for business owners. But, if it’s reading for fun, coming from California I really like John Steinbeck. I read East of Eden for the first time my junior year of high school in 1995 and have read it several more times since then.
Q: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Tri-tip beef with Suzy-Q seasoning grilled over an oak firepit with pinquito beans, salad, and garlic bread. It was a staple meal growing up in California. I’d also have no problem living only on cake, pies with really good crusts, and hot tamale candies.
Q. What dumb accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I was the #1 chicken judge in California in 1995. If you need someone to pick out your eggs or chicken wings, I’m your girl.
Q: If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal for?
A: I love doing anything and everything in the outdoors in the fresh air. In the spring and summer, we spend a ton of time at the lake racing our sailboat, kayaking and paddle boarding. Our Fall is quite busy at the winery, but we try and sneak away every once in awhile to go hiking or get in a game of tennis. I was all-section tennis player in high school, so that’s probably the sport I’d have the best chance of winning a medal for. Coming from California, it’s taken me almost 20 years to start liking winter. This winter I’ve learned to snowboard, so we were heading over to Snow Creek 2-3 times each week to hit the slopes, until I fell and dislocated my shoulder. So, that kind of ruined my chances of earning a medal this year.
Q: Who was your first crush?
A: Zack Morris (aka Mark-Paul Gosselaar) from Saved by the Bell.
Q. What’s your favorite drink, other than Jowler Creek wine, or course?
A. I’m pretty addicted to QuikTrip Iced Tea. If I’m not near a QT, I’ll settle for a bottle of Diet Coke of Diet Dr. Pepper.
Q: What would you sing at Karaoke night?
A: I would have to drink a LOT of wine to get up and sing Karaoke! And, if I did, the crowd would have to drink lots of wine to put up with listening to me! Singing is definitely not my strong suit. But, in my head I’m a super good gangster rapper and can bust out some wicked 80’s hairband ballads.
Q: What’s your dream car?
A: A black 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28. My mom had a 1966 Ford Mustang that I learned to drive in and drove in high school. I always saw the Mustang as a “family car.” But not Camaros…They are awesome.