Black Mesa Winery owners Jerry and Lynda Burd win SBA Home-Based Business of the Year award. Courtesy/SBDC
From left, Black Mesa Winery owner Jerry and Linda Burd, Black Mesa Winery accountant Antonette Martinez, Century Bank VP/Los Alamos Branch Manager Karen Easton, U.S. SBA Regional Administrator Jusin Crossie, Century Bank Universal Banker Patrick Metzger and Española Mayor Javier Sanchez celebrate the Burd’s winning the SBA Home-Based Business of the Year award. Courtesy/SBDC
Black Mesa Winery owners Jerry and Lynda Burd were recently awarded the 2020 SBA Home-Based Business of the Year award. They had lots to celebrate but the celebration came to a halt as coronavirus quickly took the world by surprise.
Each year Small Business Administration districts recognize small business owners for their outstanding contribution to their communities through their skills, products and services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winners were recently honored virtually for their achievements and contributions to the national and local economy. Their success is proof that the American Dream is attainable.
“It is important to recognize our small businesses for their perseverance and their ability to overcome adversity,” New Mexico District Director John M. Garcia said. “They are the job creators that continue to fuel our economy and they represent over 30 million small businesses in our country as well as the 157,000 in New Mexico. We know that small businesses are the driving force of American economic stability and are essential to our nation’s economic rebound from the pandemic. That is why now, more than ever, this virtual ceremony was so important to shine the spotlight on those who represent the thousands of business owners and lenders that have adapted, preserved in the face of this crisis.”
Prior to COVID-19, Black Mesa Winery in Velarde had customers visiting the Tasting Room from across the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.
The biggest share came from New Mexico, with Colorado, Texas and Arizona coming next. They were shipping wine to 20 states.
Black Mesa Winery Wine Club consists of 400 members, one of the largest in the state, with over half of the members living outside of New Meixco.
Change happened and Black Mesa Winery changed as well and is focusing on moving forward. Today Black Mesa Winery is shipping to 40 states, they have innovative virtual events and their online sales have increased.
COVID-19 began to affect the winery just like it did most businesses. Much of Black Mesa Winery business is focused on the tourism aspects of New Mexico. New Mexicans traveling around the state and others travel through New Mexico.
“COVID-19 has caused us to work longer hours – no days off just to try to make things happen, make ends meet, and be there for staff and for each other,” owner Jerry Burd said. “It’s been very difficult, almost impossible for Black Mesa Winery to open up any new retail outlets and COVID-19 has hurt Black Mesa Winery wholesale business. Instead of focusing on what we couldn’t do we focused on what we could do.”
“SBDC Director Julianna Barbee reached out to help us and guided us in obtaining PPP dollars for our employees, and SBA dollars to continue operating on a daily basis,” Burd said. “Her time on the phone and online with us gave us the assurance that we were in this with SBDC and other small businesses. Julianna would get back to us with reports and guidance, sometimes these were daily calls and on the weekends and into the evening hours.”
Black Mesa Winery continues to support Gov. Lujan Grisham’s safety requirements and is more concerned about their employees and customer’s health safety.
“Julianna helped us to start to think differently to reimagine and reinvent the winery, while incorporating the safety requirements,” Burd said. “We began to try to imagine and reimagine how to make this new definition of reality work for a small winery and doing it safely.”
Jerry and Lynda began using many online tools to stay in touch with their existing friends and Wine Club members. They use Zoom for a biweekly wine tasting featuring their winemaker, two wines and a cider and offer a special rate for purchasing and shipping. Black Mesa Winery cyber sipping special is for people to send wine and wine glasses to a friend to which they can then set up their own Zoom conversations.
“We call it Syber Sipping,” Burd said. “We also have a weekly Farmers’ Market to bring our neighbors to us and help them get their products out to people traveling or living in the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Black Mesa Winery offers tastings outside at covered tables while maintaining COVID-19 safety requirements. They also are featuring their hard apple cider made from local area apples.
“I think businesses need to look for ‘new doors’. The same old ways will never be the same,”
Burd said. “New ways to reach people, to go through doors where we never even expected a door to be is a challenge, educational, and can be fun. Some of our past ‘usual ways’ will never be repeated.”
Though there are fewer people traveling, now they have more time and are able to stop in and talk and tell us their stories. These are local people as well as people from across the state and even across the country.
“Though total visits are down, we have 30-35 percent first timers stopping by and taking the chance and have bought wines and ciders and between the PPP assistance and the rate people are placing an order by phone and online, the bills are getting paid,” Burd said. “Our online sales are up. We have just added 20 more states to our list of states we ship to, bringing the total to 40 states.”
“Again, because of Julianna, SBDC has been a valuable asset,” Burd said. “I wouldn’t want to be going through this ‘alone’ with the Internet as my only resource. Sometimes I don’t even know the right questions to ask. No one person knows all the answers or even all the questions, but by getting together either virtually of just through emails makes a big, big difference.”
Justin Crossie U.S. Small Business Administration Regional Administrator met with Black Mesa Winery to find out how the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) helped. He talked with Lynda and Jerry about their experience during the economic downturn following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program provided salaries for their staff and Black Mesa Winery still has all their employees working.
Crossie also wanted to know how the SBA could do better and what businesses need from the SBA to continue moving forward in the new business climate. Española Mayor Javier Sanchez welcomed Crossie and showed his support for SBDC client Black Mesa Winery. Mayor Sanchez also is a client of the Española SBDC and owner of La Cocina Restaurant and received the PPP.
Century Bank in Los Alamos provided Black Mesa Winery with the PPP loan and was invited by SBA to share their experience with the PPP during COVID-19.
“On behalf of the Century Bank team, we offer our congratulations to Jerry and Lynda Burd and Black Mesa Winery for the SBA 2020 Home-based Business Award,” said Gary Lutz, EVP / Regional President of Century Bank. “We wish them continued success. Century Bank was pleased to have partnered with the SBA in providing much needed financial relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Century Bank provided businesses in New Mexico over 550 loans totaling over $103 million. We are extremely happy to have been a part of this program.”