Hey there…and welcome to my Blog. I’ve been meaning to do this for some time now, but finally found myself inspired to do so after seeing Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter and founder of Jelly....amongst other companies) speak at a Silicon Valley Bank event. The blog will undoubtedly be mostly about wine, but I often find my thoughts taking oddly tangential directions, so who knows where the trail will lead? I plan on posting weekly...maybe more often but less substantively during harvest. I hope you enjoy it!
Recently, I’ve been thinking a great deal about how I first developed an interest in wine. No, not particularly how Dianna and I started Siduri Winery (that story….starting a winery with $24,000 while working in winery tasting rooms can be found here: http://www.siduri.com/adam_dianna_lee.html) but more how I started out with wine at all. It began in the Spring of 1986 and I was a junior at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. I was dating a young lady who was a senior and, quite frankly, I had fallen for her. So when she graduated and moved to Northern California to work for Chevron, I was devastated. Following what seemed like the only logical path at the time, I left my parent’s house and my cushy summer job and literally ran away to the San Francisco Bay area. It was during that summer that I discovered the first red wine that I ever fell in love with, the 1984 Rochioli Pinot Noir (and it is no small coincidence that Siduri Wines produces only Pinot Noir). But it is only in retrospect that Pinot Noir seems remotely important compared to everything else I experienced that summer. At the time I had no idea what wine would mean for my later life. Fortunately, when I returned to Trinity for my senior year (much to my parents’ delight….they were worried), I wrote a column for the university newspaper about my experiences and what I found important at that time:
That summer was a true awakening for me and led me down a path that I never anticipated. Two year later I started working in a wine shop and the rest is history.
Now, 25 years later, one of the most common comments I get at winemaker dinners is that it wouldn’t be possible to follow a similar path today. But that’s not what I see. From Dan and Michael, collecting tips to start Kosta-Browne, to Mike and Kendall leaving their day jobs and taking a home winemaking hobby commercial with Carlisle Winery, it is a well-worn path. There’s a new generation of winemakers forging a similar future for themselves today, people like Ray Walker moving to Burgundy and starting Maison Ilan and Jamie Kutch leaving a financial career to start Kutch Wines. Sure, there are differences in all of our stories, but those are outweighed by the similarities. And undoubtedly there will be those that follow, people that we haven’t even met or considered.
But those that follow will have to overcome the prevailing wisdom that starting a winery from scratch, even starting any small business, is simply too difficult now. Some of this stems from what we are being told, with Texas Governor Rick Perry coming to California and saying, "Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible." California Governor Jerry Brown responded, "A lot of these Texans that come here, they don’t go back. I mean, who would want to spend summers there in 110-degree heat inside some kind of fossil fuel air conditioner? Not a smart way to go."
The truth is, starting a business begins with following your dream. Sometimes, when you don’t even know what your dream is, it begins by following your heart. It doesn’t start because of lower tax rates nor is it suffocated by triple-digit temperatures. If your heart takes you to the edge of the country or the heart of the Hill Country, you owe it to yourself to follow it at least once.