It's been a whirlwind 6-months. From weeks of travel from event to event, it's all I could do to maintain my girlish figure and stay out of de-tox:-) I'm fortunate to comfortably maintain balance between indulgence, exercise, and meditation.
At the end of the day, the internal metrics drive me. The "high-life" holds little weight against the feeling of peace. This path of making, selling, and sharing wine leads in both directions. It's easy to get swept into the excitement of working with incredible chefs, dining in the best restaurants, and traveling to destinations where friends are always waiting. These benefits are most enjoyed when the "home-fires" are burning within.
So it's been interesting to achieve so many accolades in the past months, a showering of attention.
Not only have we won 8 Gold Medals in four national and international competitions, but the wine press has also taken notice. Dan Berger, probably the journalist I respect most, just rated ALL our current vintages EXCEPTIONAL, his highest.
Further, I've been invited to host vintner events at the prestigious and historic Union League Club and Tennis and Raquet Club in NYC in February. Joined by the recent dinner hosted at the SF Olympic Club, we have over 450 years of collective history honoring our wines from these three august establishments alone.
This has caused me pause; I'm a child of a mentor, Greg Lafollette. I couldn't be more grateful to Greg for all he shared with us: his sensitivity to the grape, discerning palate, and keen skills were the cornerstone for our brand. It was Greg's winemaking acumen that earned us our first achievement as the #1 Pinot Noir in the United States in the 2002 Pinot Noir Summit. And it is Greg's colleague and friend, Rick Davis, who has hung with us since Day-One, guiding and crafting, carrying on the tradition of making extraordinary wine.
But Greg's influence also guided us away from the competitive arena. He's been opposed to wine competitions of any kind. His observations are obvious: wine tastes differently to different people at different times in different places. So how can there be a reasonable way to judge, let alone score, any given wine. This argument away from the wine press and judging held strong weight to Jennifer and I. And we were selling all our wines.
In 2014 we hit a wall. We simply couldn't afford to continue. This precipitated rethinking our mission, the search for counsel and funding. Both were readily available and with them came broader wisdom.
We were coached that to continue in this business required participation across all areas: organizations, competitions, and the press. So for the first time in a decade, early this year we began sending our wine to other people to evaluate.
The results have been overwhelming. Every wine has won a Gold Medal, some more than one.
What's been the most surprising has been the response from you. I send newsletters almost weekly and post my blog at least every month. I receive kind words occasionally, but I don't write for them. I simply enjoy sharing and it supports our community through wine, shared interests, experiences and relationship.
But something shifted when we started announcing our wins these past months. Right away, I received replies to my missives: tons of "attaboys", "great work", "well deserved", and "keep it up". I felt engagement and encouragement. Sales picked up and everyone I meet smiles and congratulates me. And it feels great!
So I've shifted, too. It's not that my inner world is less important. It's not that these "outer metrics" of recognition mean any more.
I've simply come to understand that we're all seeking connection.
Often tragedy is the catalyst that propels us together in times of need. But celebration is an equally powerful driver. It brings us together in times of joy.
I'm honored and bouyed by people rallying to support our success.
In all the years I've known you, I've never seen you happier or more humbled by Halleck Vineyard's success than this Blog post confirms.
I look forward to our next rendezvous with you and your delicious vintages.