When brothers Shep and Ian Murray cut their ties with Corporate America to start a little company on Martha's Vineyard in 1998, their motivation was clear: "We're making neck ties so we don't have to wear them." Little did they know that the business they founded, Vineyard Vines, would become a darling of the fashion industry and a household brand name around the country. Today, the company best known for its smiling pink whale logo offers much more than their signature neckwear. That "little" privately-held business has grown tremendously since its launch and currently has more than 90 physical retail locations and a highly successful eCommerce business. I met the team at Vineyard Vines while doing research about data-driven marketing technologies for my book, Marketing, Interrupted, and was able to learn firsthand about the company's beginnings, and what has made them so successful today.
Why: The rolling hills around Paso Robles, once known for cattle, grain and almonds, are all about assiduously pampered grapes now, and the reputation of these vineyards and wineries keeps growing. What: More than 200 wineries dot those hills, so you could spend days tasting . The Paso Robles viticultural area is known for Bordeaux, Rhone and Zinfandel varietals. If you do a weekend, two good tasting-room bets are Halter Ranch Vineyard (20 minutes from downtown with a sleek, spacious tasting room that opened in 2016); and Derby Wine Estates, which opened in 2014 in downtown's historic and long-idle Almond Growers warehouse building (a.k.a. the Farmers' Alliance Building), built in 1922. If history is your bent, you can add a little more to the occasion by bedding down at the Paso Robles Inn (which dates to 1891).