As it happened, that turned out to be San Diego Wine Company's best holiday season ever, and when the dust settled, Francke had a regular gig. "I had done everything I could with Orfila. I never wanted to be a winemaker; I never had that in me. I enjoy wine, but making it is not something I wanted to pursue." Sales, on the other hand, ran in the family.
Over time, Kowalski began to step back and let Driggers and Francke step up. "Tom's concept was to have guys who knew what they were doing who he could pay to run his business. Once we knew his plan and how to carry on what he started, he left it in our hands." (Score one for employee autonomy.) "Paris and I started cultivating relationships with brokers. And having the relationship that I had with my uncle, I was able to bring in some brands that were hesitant about coming into the shop. My uncle's influence would get someone to answer the phone." Francke took it from there and managed to reel in Silver Oak and Duckhorn. "It was nice being able to say we had those wines, after years of telling people 'no. '"
In March, Paris left to buy into Bacchus Wine Market downtown. A while after that, Kowalski let it be known that he might be willing to sell.