Tolino Vineyards is an artisanal winery owned by the Tolino family in Bangor. Their wines are hand crafted from grapes grown in their onsite vineyard. Business is in the family’s blood, starting with Tolino’s Fuel Service in 1955. Mandy Tolino is general manager of the vineyards and a third generation of the family business.
LVB: Tolino Vineyards has been around for more than 13 years now. What has it been like working with your family for all this time?
Tolino: My three siblings and I started working together at the winery when we were in our twenties, which has allowed us to grow together professionally as the business grew. Reflecting back on where we started (working in the vineyard), to where we are today it is pretty amazing. Each of us has unique talents, educational backgrounds, and personality strengths that we used to find our niche in the business.
LVB: Was working for a family business always ‘in your blood?’
Tolino: Yes. Our grandfather started Tolino’s Fuel Service in 1955 and our dad, Carl Tolino, continues to own and operate the business. I worked at the fuel service as well, learning the ropes in preparation for the third generation to manage the business. Growing up we lived a few houses up the street from the business and would all spend a lot of time there playing in the office and riding around on the tractors and trucks. When the winery opened, we had a lot of family business resources to turn to for advice. Each of us took our own path to land back at the business, some right out of college, while others worked in other jobs before returning to the business.
LVB: How do you share the workload, responsibilities and decision making?
Tolino: Decision making is the most challenging part of four siblings working together. There is a lot of collaboration and heated discussions about some decisions, while other things come easily now that roles and responsibilities are more clearly defined. Carl is the winemaker, Liz is the tasting room/retail manager, Mark manages our Easton location and I am the general manager. We sometimes still argue about who is going to take out the recycling just like when we were kids, but when it comes down to the important decisions and tasks we work together to get them done.
LVB: When are you at your busiest? How do you work together to get everything done?
Tolino: We are busiest July through October. The tasting room is busy with events such as Family Fridays, Sangria Sunday and fall harvest events. In September we start harvesting grapes and processing wine and everyone pitches in. During September we are all working 7 days a week and as life starts to slow down we schedule our lives so we each get some down time.
LVB: What’s the most rewarding part of running a vineyard with your family?
Tolino: Looking back and seeing that we built the business together as a team from the ground up. We started with tiny little grapes vines and now we have a picturesque winery and a reputation for making really great wines and providing our customers with a fun and educational experience. It is also rewarding that at the end of a long day of harvest or a busy Saturday that all of our kids — 10 cousins so far — are able to spend so much time together and grow up in the family business together much like we did.