Instead of a New Year’s resolution, here at the winery it’s September when we have an opportunity to set some goals and reflect on how to be better. Better winemakers, better managers, better human beings. Some harvests the focus has been specifically on improving fermentations or extractions, really nailing the pick decisions or streamlining the logistics. Some harvests have coincided with extremely challenging periods in my personal life and maybe the intensity of harvest has been a welcome distraction? My goal was just to keep my head above water for 3 months. Other harvests I’ve targeted implementing more formal protocols, learning about record keeping and data tracking and learning vineyard Spanish. Todavía necesito mejorar en todas estas cosas.
But this year I want to learn more about building a team and working together toward a real, articulated goal. My career path has been … atypical, but not unfun …don’t get me wrong, working seasonal jobs for family owned small businesses around the world and then inventing my job/becoming my own boss at my enology lab and winemaking consulting company. But I haven’t had the opportunity to learn a lot about business leadership and how to manage a team. Now’s the time!
I’m interested in something beyond “Hire the right people and get out of the way”…
Despite my love of bossing everybody around, I’m a reluctant manager and mainly I want the people I work with to have the wherewithal to do the right thing. I try to make it easy to do the right thing! Another challenge is that I can’t financially compensate these folks appropriately so I need to instill loyalty and integrity through … mutual respect? the fun of smelling fermenting Petit Verdot together in the morning? sharing tamales for lunch?
At Baer we have a new crew this harvest - a new cellarmaster and two new interns so it was a good time to road trip to Stillwater Creek vineyard, get psyched for this harvest and bond as a team. With the winery in Woodinville, we are separated literally and figuratively from the grapegrowing. Spending time with our vineyard manager in the field is important to get team buy-in and helps everybody understand where the wines come from and get a sense for the character of this vintage. Also field trips are fun! And it’s fun to make wine for work! Let’s take a beat and appreciate it before we are all working flat out. Onward and upward, everybody!!