I think that living in wine country and always being around it makes one lose some of the romantic feelings about wine. When you’re constantly around it and most of the people you know are directly involved in the industry you start hearing a lot of what goes on behind the scenes, stuff that tourists to wine country don’t typically see or hear. This is probably true with anything but in this case I’m just sticking to wine.
Does the Romance Burn On?
My appreciation of wine still exists 1,000%, and I think my journey into the Paso Robles wine scene has been amazing and extremely educational…but with that comes the “blood of the beast” so to speak. When you start seeing the business side of wine is when the romance gets stripped away and you’re quickly reminded that behind the beautiful vineyards and shiny wine labels lies capitalism…who knew?
In the beginning it was a jolt to my system but then you understand that these people need to make a living too. The other thing I noticed and remembered was that just because of what this business is selling does not mean that all of these people are good at business. There are many bad business minds in the wine industry, as in every industry. The quirky thing about wine though is that it is completely a social and experiential product…it is unlike any other product in my mind.
As a business person, if you cannot connect the dots from the romance of wine to the experience to the storytelling to the “social-ness” you’re screwed. On the other hand, if you are too wrapped up in these things and you forget that it’s a business you are also screwed. There’s a balance that needs to be achieved…the consumer wants the lifestyle and winery owner needs to make the money…how do you marry these two things without corrupting either side? Again, it’s a fine balance.
The art of storytelling is massive in my book, the ability to not only open your bottle of wine for the consumer but to open (unfold) the story behind the wine is such a big deal nowadays. Some folks have natural ability to do this, others do not and really need to work on it. The most important business skill in my opinion, in all industries, is the ability to be aware. You need to be aware of the market, you need to be aware of your staff, you need to be aware of the customer experience and what they are saying when they leave your place, you need to be aware of your facial and verbal responses when consumers bring up other wineries to you, you need to be aware of where you came from and where you’re headed, you need to be aware of the financial bottom line, and on and on and on.
It’s certainly not an easy business but those that get it are truly a pleasure to be around and they restore my “romance” with wine. I could not imagine living in any other wine region, Paso Robles is home to some of the most amazing stories, fantastic wines, and salt of the Earth people…don’t let a bad apple or two diminish your time spent in wine country! Cheers!