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It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

One of my pet peeves in the wine business is the glorification of the winemaker. Maybe I shouldn’t feel this way because I am the winemaker for not only my brand but also several others. Years ago, when I began writing stuff about The Shop, my  Carneros Pinot Noir, I attempted to convey the importance of the people who actually tend the grapes and make the wine. It takes a lot more than one person, no matter how hardworking and talented that person may be, to create a bottle of wine. Many of the most dedicated, hardworking people I have met in the wine business never get their names on the label or pictures in a magazine, and yet they are critical in the quality of the wine. After all, if you don’t touch the grapes or the wine, how can you really say that you made the wine? You directed the making of the wine, but someone else actually did it.

When I consult to other wineries, I am careful not to claim too much of the credit. After all, I am pretty far removed from hands on winemaking as a consultant. Various people pay me to help them with winemaking, for which I am grateful, but while I may provide some useful guidance, it is exactly that—guidance.  Obviously a good consultant (or advisor or coach) can make a huge difference in the success of the client (not just in wine) but when it comes down to it, those who are doing the work rarely get much of the credit.

Therefore I try hard to give credit where credit is due. Harvest work is hard, but it can be pleasurable, even joyous. When I am working with my team at harvest time, I try to convey that. I try to make it understandable and bearable. Even if it’s as little as sharing a bottle of something good at the end of a long day of harvest. Most of us in the business, at least those who seem to end up in my orbit, tend to be a bit geeky, wine-wise, and during harvest there are plenty of opportunities to “geek out” over a bottle of inspiring wine. And not just the stuff we are working on.  Hence the photo. You’ll notice by the price tag visible in the photo that it doesn’t have to be the expensive stuff.


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