To be the best, be true to yourself!

There are many avenues to a successful life. Every person has a different view on life, on what makes them who they are. We all had different parents, and hence different up-bringings, so what is important to us varies greatly. Your life can, and most likely will change in an instant at some point. You will come to a crossroad where the choices are: 1. Will this make me happy? Or 2. Will this make others happy?

This is often the most difficult decision anyone can make, and it never seems to be as cut and dry as how I have described. However if we use those two questions as a framework for every decision we make in our lives, at some point we begin to realise that ‘Question 2’ is a dead end. That if we are not happy ourselves, then how on earth can we make others happy. If your happy and energised in your own life, others become the same around you. It is also true if you substitute ‘happy and energised’ with ‘miserable’.

So in the world of winemaking; Why is it that we let others decide what path we should be travelling? What wines we should be making?

To do anything in our small time on this planet that isn’t true to ourselves would seem counterintuitive. Winemaking is no different. The only question that is really relevant in my mind is ‘Do I enjoy drinking this wine?’ After all, wine is for enjoyment. Nothing more, nothin less.

Customers buy wines for many reasons, but the primary reason they return to buy the same wine a second and third time is that they enjoyed drinking it! The great thing about being a winemaker is that when people come back to buy your wine, an immense sense of satisfaction comes with them. Your obviously doing something right if your customers are returning. So why aren’t we asking ourselves the same question? Why aren’t we making wines ‘we’ as winemakers enjoy drinking ourselves?

It seems to be that we as winemakers are by enlarge followers. We follow results at wine shows. We are led by writers who make a living critiquing the work of winemakers. We follow sommeliers. It is an easy trap to fall into, because it means that we as winemakers aren’t making the decisions regarding the style of wine we make. That is left to others. It’s the easy way out.

Is it not true though, that the best wines tend to be made by winemakers who do the opposite? Those winemakers make the wines they are passionate about. They make wines that excite them, and in turn excite the people who buy them. These wines are not necessarily perfect, usually far from it. Yet they are quite usually the wines the makers most like drinking. Those winemakers are the ones with vision. They know what needs to happen in the vineyard, and they act on it. They know what flavour/texture they need to be tasting when they pick, because they have already tasted it in their minds. They know the techniques needed in the winery to deliver the style they want, because they have already made it in their minds. And they know how long the wine needs to rest and develop before it is bottled, in order to preserve all that has gone before.

So to be the best winemaker you can, be true to yourself and your palate. Make the wine you love, and others will love it too!