Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Winemakers: Entrepreneurs, Artists, Leaders

Most of the winemakers I know started making wine in their garage or basement. Some inherited the family business which was also started in a basement or barn. All have the hearts of a true entrepreneur as they forge on to develop great wines.

Hobbyists beware of the words “you should sell this stuff.” BAM! The entrepreneur inside turns its creative mind to large quantity production and cool labels. But if they ever want to get it in your hands they have to do much more than create and bottle the wine.

While researching the newest winery in the region I met Lance and Valerie owners of Black Walnut Winery. I should add that they do have partners in crime (wine), Jack and Karen. These four are the classic wine enthusiasts turned hobbyists turned entrepreneur and soon to be leaders recognized for their award winning wines. I can not describe how much I enjoyed their wines and YES, their story.

[read Rob Kallessa's article bacause I could not have written it better: http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20091006/SPARK0302/910070304/1129/rss06]

For the purpose of this blog I continue…

You see, we all have something great within us that we want to share. In each story there is a pivotal moment when they sought advice and expertise of other entrepreneurs they consider leaders. The spirit that drove them to ask for advice also encouraged them to act. About that time they totally become paralyzed. 

One winemaker I know said he got great advice and did do what he needed to trademark and begin selling the wine. When he finally had everything in place he freaked out! When the license to sell was in his hands reality hit; his dream had come true. Up ‘till then he was so busy following instructions and DOING.

I don’t know that we always see the shift from artist to entrepreneur when its happening. We experience the challenges and feel the anxiety about a particular task – but only after we allowed the internal leader to take charge. Its being a leader that helps us to get the do done.

So my fellow artisans I encourage you now to look back at what happened in your life just before you started DOING – that was your first defining moment. That is when you unleashed the leader in you. My bet is 50% of you were laughing over a glass of wine when it happened.

Am I right? Comment!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Location, Location, Location - for the love of wine!

I find my expectations around the taste and quality of wine vary depending on my surroundings or the location. Location can mean any number of places: countries, regions, large or small wineries, family-owned wineries, in a restaurant or at home.

Some of my favorite and most memorable experiences are those visits to small family-owned wineries in the middle of nowhere in foreign countries. Not to say I don’t have a fondness from family-owned here in the United States. It’s quite different… read on and you might agree.

While driving through Franconia, Germany, and we saw a small sign near a driveway that read “Wein.” We made a right turn and parked in front of a simple house with a typical wooden swing set near the house and a heavy wooden door with a doorbell, which we pushed. An old woman (OMA or Grandma) opened the door. Her face and hands were weathered from years in the fields. Her hands looked strong, a finger was missing and there was plenty of earth under her nails. She spoke German with a regional accent so strong we could hardly understand her. However we all spoke “WINEeese” without strain.

When we asked if we could taste her wine her face lit up! She was cute as she wobbled back inside gesturing for us to follow her. She opened a little refrigerator and pulled out bottle after bottle of wine, all sorts of wine. If I remember correctly the bottles were already open and few had labels. She poured wine for each of us including herself.

Our expectation for the wine’s taste and quality was low. We were CORRECT; it was drinkable and nothing we would buy in a store. BUT we were having a fabulous time just soaking up the old woman’s joy of sharing wine with strangers. We stayed for at least an hour. She doted over our daughter pouring her glasses of varying grape juices: red, purple, white. Hayden eventually went to play on the swing and we bought wine.

I can’t say whether or not we ever drank the bottles we bought. It doesn’t matter – it was a memorable experience.

Insight, I believe, refers to the depth of understanding that comes by setting experiences, yours and mine, familiar and exotic, new and old, side by side, learning by letting them speak to one another.