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April 23, 2018
Female Influencers Spring 2018: Carol Hoffman and Joanne Harris
Carol Hoffman and Joanne Harris are both practicing physicians (as are their husbands). This “pair of docs” began Paradocx Vineyard with the mission “to be good stewards of the land and create a relaxing and family-friendly environment for all to learn the joy of wine.”
How did physicians end up being vintners? “It was my husband Dave’s fault,” Hoffman says. “He had the interest from taking viticulture courses at Penn State while at Bucknell. We all like wine, so it wasn’t too hard to say, ‘OK!’” Harris adds, “Our initial motivation was to just be a vineyard and use the farmland productively. It grew from there.” Hoffman, who’s an ophthalmologist, sees a parallel between her day job and the mission of Paradocx. “Eye surgery has many similarities to a successful business and making great wine in terms of attention to detail and making sure all of the pre-work is done well to have an excellent result,” she says.
Starting the business involved huge financial risk. But on a much deeper level, Harris says, “we took the risk of trusting in a long-term partnership. It is a similar commitment to a marriage.” As their vines were cultivated, so was their relationship. With the addition of staff and loyal patrons, the Paradocx family continues to grow. This extended Paradocx family includes Hoffman’s mother, Alice James, who is the artist behind every Paradocx wine label.
As Harris reflects on women creating value and being leaders in the community, she refers to her work as an obstetrician/gynecologist. “What I do every day, in the fabric of my life, is empower women. It’s the small things that promote empowerment, the individual experiences that women have that shape their confidence, and with each patient that I see, I instill a bit more confidence in them, which, in turn, in their actions, is visible in this community.”
With the right “mindset, determination, and some grit,” Harris says, anything is possible. Both women encourage others to “follow your gut—it’s usually right!” They agree that they’d like their legacy to be that they treated the land and their employees well and had fun making good wine.