Background: Kolber grew up in Morada and graduated from Tokay High, where his interests included wrestling, track (he was a pole vaulter) and music. Kolber pursued his interest in music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, earning a bachelor’s degree. Kolber is an accomplished drummer and plays in a group, The Ben Kolber Project, which includes his father, Robert, who plays bass. Kolber’s musical mentor was local musician and teacher Bob Romans.
Kolber’s band plays several private events each year and also performs at the Vinter’s Grill, an event held the night before the Zinfest. “It’s a fun event that involves local winegrape growers and winemakers. We look forward to that every year.”
Family: Kolber and his wife, Madelyn, have three children: Simon, 7, Sadie, 5 and Judah, 2. They live in the country east of Lodi. One of Kolber’s goals is to one day have a family band.
Business: Kolber and partner, Kris Gutierrez, operate KG Vineyard Management, overseeing more than 2,000 acres of vineyards in the Lodi area. Kolber’s wife, Madelyn, also works with the company, specializing in sustainability practices. Kolber is on the board of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation and also serves on the Lodi Winegrape Commission. He is the face and voice of the “LoCA Thoughts” video campaign.
On 2015: “I want to continue to support Lodi as a wine destination, grow my custom farming business and maintain a stellar reputation for quality service. I am an advocate for Lodi. We have so much to build on here: the quality of our fruit, our sustainability practices, the multi-generational character of the grape and wine communities. This is a very innovative and supportive community. In 2015, I see more innovation and growth.”
Personal goals: “I want to grow and learn in business.” On a more personal note, Kolber, an avid fisherman, would like “to catch a sturgeon in the Delta and get an 8-pound trout on the Mokelumne.”
Keys to his success: Kolber said he’s also remembered words of wisdom from one of his mentors, entrepreneur Dino Cortopassi: “Be prepared to be lucky.” To Kolber, that means, “surrounding myself with a smart, capable team. I have to acknowledge the support I have: my clients, my family, my workers and my employees. It all matters. ... I value my workforce’s cultural diversity. We have people from the U.S., Mexico and Pakistan all working together, all contributing.”
Mentors and role models: Kolber said in business, Cortopassi has been instrumental as has his father, a attorney and businessman. Another inspiration is his mother, Anne, whom he described as, “a mensch. She has always been a support of our community and gives much of her time to philanthropic endeavors. She has taught me the importance of integrity and goodwill.”