An interview with Farmhouse Vineyards co-owner: Katy Jane Seaton
Many vineyards specialize in one location, one crop, or one goal. However, Farmhouse Vineyards excels at all of the above. With two tasting rooms from Brownfield to Johnson City, TX, eight types of crops, and a collection of missions to improve the internal and external community, they’re committed to making you feel at home.
Katy Jane Seaton, one of four owners from Farmhouse Vineyards, has worked in the wine business for over 20 years. After moving from the Pacific Northwest, Seaton found that despite the Texas weather, the soil was the perfect match for grapevines and supporting farm families.
In terms of combatting the inclement Texas climate, Seaton said, “We have every plague that’s in the bible, but we combat that by hosting the most generational farm families of any region in the state of Texas who make their living from farming…We have the same 25 families who have worked with us forever. When many of them started, their babies were little, and now they’re in college and identifying what they want to do with their life,” said Seaton.
Seaton helps these young adults navigate their career path by saying, “We are just trying to integrate more of the wonderful young women to either stay in whatever way they can or move on – and we’ve had some really great success.”
Staying true to family run business, Farmhouse Vineyards is owned and operated by two pairs of brother and sister in-laws, each member bringing a different personality to the company. Seaton spoke highly of the team by introducing: herself- “the dreamer”, Nicholas- the high-stress safe holder, Traci- the humble problem solver, and Anthony- the savvy chemist. It’s the balance between the four unique individuals that makes the farm come to fruition.
“I joke that we would win Survivor. We’re those people who work 20 hours a day, seven days of the week. We each bring a new perspective to both growing and retailing a wine brand, and I think that’s an advantage to us,” said Seaton.
Farmhouse Vineyards stands as a fierce competitor, but Seaton believes, “comparison is the thief of joy,” so they decided not to enter award competitions, claiming they want “their clients to win with their fruit.”
A common misconception of wine that Seaton wishes to dispel is that it is a sexy-end commodity. “People see it as a lifestyle and a luxury product, versus the actual product it is, which is a heavily farmed commodity. It’s my goal to change that, to really bring awareness to agriculture in Texas via viticulture and put us on the same playing field, at least with truth, knowledge, and access,” said Seaton.
Another surprising truth to wine is that it shouldn’t be judged by the price tag. Seaton’s advice in choosing a bottle is that price is “a nice wide net to cast, but not the end all be all if you’re trying to decide if something is quality driven. If you want to champion something that’s American made or grown and does come back to a family or an operation.”
Seaton believes that quality-driven wine appreciation goes back to the family and its growers, and the best way to support them is to read their story or see it for themselves.
“To me, the greatest appreciation is when people take the time and spend their hard-earned money to drive out to our remote location,” said Seaton. “We just treat everyone like family. We made the conscious choice to put our tasting rooms inside houses, so that you felt like you’re just coming over for wine. That’s the whole point of our home,” said Seaton.
With tasting rooms located in both Johnson City and Brownfield, Texas, Farmhouse Vineyards is seeking to become even more accessible, and is looking online to help reach that goal. Lucky for them, Sommly was the perfect outlet to grow a direct connection to its consumers, and to amplify the story of the brand beyond its physical locations. When Seaton came across Sommly she said, “I thought Sommly would be the perfect bridge that would give that really detailed over the top customer service feeling to the purchasing versus going straight to the website.”
Continuing to look forward, Farmhouse has multiple goals for their future on the farm, industry, and their tasting rooms. For example, they’re working on integrating more sheep into their vineyards as a deliberate tool for farming, they encourage the evolution of Texas wine tourism to see the economic reap of rewards, and they continue to welcome you to their tasting home.
“We want to welcome you. You’re welcome to our tasting houses, you’re welcome to the farm, and you’re welcome to enjoy our wine in any fashion that we can provide it,” said Seaton. Yet, just be prepared to answer one question.
“Who’s your farmer?” Seaton asked. “We have it on our t-shirts, on our merch, it’s important. We live in the country with the cleanest, most available, safest, affordable food and beverage supply. And I think people oughta get to know who makes that happen for them,” said Seaton.