Okla. ob-gyn grows grapes of wine, not wrath

What started out as a hobby turned into a business when the physician realized he was making more wine that he or his friends and family could drink and his wife got tired of the mess it made in the kitchen.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted Aug. 10, 2009

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Gary Strebel, MD

Specialty: Obstetrics-gynecology

Location: Oklahoma City

Company: Strebel Creek Vineyard & Gift Shop (link)

Annual revenue: The business made $60,000 in gross sales last year. "Once we paid all the expenses we had a little bit of profit, but not much," Dr. Strebel said. "This year will be more profitable."

Why he started the business: Dr. Strebel had been making wine as a hobby for more than a decade and had reached the point where he was growing his own grapes on his five-acre property. Nearly five years ago, he realized he was generating so much wine that he either needed to make less, start giving it away or find a way to sell it. He opened his winery as a commercial venture two years ago.

Nearly 10,000 people have since come through the winery for free tastings or to buy a bottle.

"The fun part of winemaking is every batch is different," he said. "To be a winemaker is to be a little bit of a farmer and a little bit of a chemist, and you have to be lucky to make good wine." Strebel Creek is the only winery in Oklahoma City, although there are others in the state.

Why he keeps practicing: He continues to practice medicine five days a week with his two daughters, who are also physicians, and his wife, who is the office manager. "I have fun making wine, but I have fun practicing medicine too," he said.

Words of wisdom: "Start out small," Dr. Strebel advised. "Then grow, depending on the market and how good your [product] is."

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