FTIL 2 – The Time of the Season

What is this world coming to?  Something good, perhaps?  People continue to show that there are changes more significant and meaningful than the unpredictable march of the modern business cycle, and I’m pleased to discover that there’s a new kind of improvement in productivity that affects people’s lives directly, not just through some abstract macroeconomic statistics.

Nowadays, folks are happy campers harvesting grapes, stomping them, and hauling away the sap amidst the blistering Calistoga sun or bitter chills of Halifax winds.  I’m not talking about agricultural employees, I’m talking about the consumers!  Though many could avoid the additional expense and effort through a quick swing through their local store, more and more people will pay handsomely to participate in the vinification process, from performing sweaty vineyard chores to listening in on lectures on the art and science of wine making. 

A growing number of vineyards around the world are more than happy to oblige, customizing sessions and tasks to seasonal needs of the vineyard.  Catering to this new customer demand with titles like “Wine Camp for Beginners” and “Grape to Bottle,” the vineyards’ goals are to demystify the subject and present their wares to the people so that consumers can better appreciate their products, as well as the care and expertise necessary to make them special.

Aside from learning cool words like “riddling” (dislodging sediment to the neck of the bottle) and “disgorging” (removing sediment from the bottle) and, of course, drinking the fruits (no pun intended) of your labor, the biggest benefits of these camps have little to do with wine itself.  They are the laughter, spending time with your family and friends, and crafting memories that last a lifetime.

Oh by the way, if you happen to find yourself in NorCal’s winery region, it’s worth a quick trip to Sonoma for a private tour of facilities at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards – my wife and I have many memories of tasting sessions from the barrels in the barrel room with former head winemaker Terry Adams (Terry, hope you are enjoying your retirement pal).  And V. Sattui Winery is the best kept BBQ secret in Napa.

Here’s to finer things in life.  Worry less about the trends, enjoy the seasons.  Cheers!

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About Richard Lee
Experienced finance and operations professional. Currently partner in five companies, adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and executive contributor to a small business blog (www.SMBmatters.com); following corporate finance, M&A and management consulting tenures with Orbitz and Diamond Technology Partners; and six years of service with the United States Army.

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