People to Watch: The Sullivans


Meet Terry & Kathleen SullivanDefining moments in life come from the most unusual circumstances.  Kathleen Sullivan had an appointment with her audiologist in the fall of 2006.  At that same time she and her husband Terry were transitioning from professions in education to retirement.  Terry and Kathleen met at The Ratskeller at The Catholic University of America in Washington DC as students in the early 70’s.  Kathy was a political science major and Terry was in elementary education.  Education was the common profession for both of them.  They raised four children – Ryan, Erin, Meghan, and Kevin.  During that visit the audiologist asked them what they liked to do for fun.  They told him about visiting wineries.  The doctor expressed discomfort and perhaps insecurity of not knowing what to do while tasting wines.  They enthusiastically shared with him how after their first winery visit to the Williamsburg Winery in Williamsburg, Virginia, they were hooked.  They shared with him how to enjoy winery tastings.  At that moment Kathy and Terry knew that they could help people discover their own wine journeys by using their teaching skills to help make “wine journeying” approachable.  Touring wineries in Virginia led to touring Finger Lakes Wineries which has now led to international travel.  Kathy had always wanted a career as a writer, so this was an opportunity to start a company with Terry, write about their experiences and see where the wine journey would take them.  Through Wine Pleasures, Paul and I met Terry and Kathleen.  As we have traveled and met couples who are on their own wine journeys, we have come to appreciate some common characteristics.  1.  They face their challenges head-on.  Kathy shared that as they were just getting started, their website was hacked.  Son, Kevin fixed it but it was a major set-back.  They persevered and overcame. 2.  They work together as business partners.  Making a profit while supporting the wine industry is not easy and it takes much time, effort and perseverance.  Paul and I appreciate this in our own businesses.  Couples have to separate the business from the personal relationship.  Together they work toward a common goal while not losing site of the love relationship that brought them together. 3.  They appreciate the blessings and use the good memories to motivate and encourage themselves.  For example, Kathy shared that while in Croatia she forgot to pack hearing aid batteries.  She thought that they would be easy to find in an airport or drugstore.  Not so.   She was very concerned.  It is hard to tell a story if you cannot hear what is said.  At the first Croatian winery, the owner discovered Kathy’s dilemma.  He insisted on driving them to a drugstore in his tiny town.  When the drugstore did not have the batteries, he called a friend of his who owned a watch shop.  The shop was closed but his friend came and opened his shop to find the battery.  The watch shop owner did not have the correct size so he called his son who arrived 10 minutes later with the correct batteries.  “This is the kind of thing that creates wonderful relationships with people throughout the world and they will always be remembered.”  Their faith was demonstrated by what they did to help. For Terry it is the people he met along the way.  Most of the wine industry people are happy.  “Grumpy people are in an extremely small minority.”  4.  They appreciate each other and encourage one another.  As authors of A Wine Journey published in 2012 and A Wine Tourist’s Guide: Visiting Tasting Rooms published in 2013 they try to write with one voice.  Editing is much more important and they have discussions even about comma placement.  “Since the autumn of 2006, Kathy and I have visited and written about more than 1,000 wineries…The 1,000th visit was in the Country of Georgia.  995 out of 1,000 winery visits were great.”  You can follow their adventures at Writing has led to winemaking and a winemaking blog:  Their gifts of teaching are now used to promote wine tourism. Cheers, Merrill