A Note to My Readers on the Winter Solstice

2020 is a year we must never forget.

Yes, there have been worse years for humanity, but not one in my lifetime has left me as worried about the fate of future generations as this one has. Movies, television and books have done a good job of giving us fictional glimpses of pandemics, natural disasters and mayhem, but nothing, I would argue, has prepared us for the rise of treasonous, self-serving leaders and unresponsive government.

It’s the last bit that worries me the most. I call it the pandemic of division, isolation and hate. It’s as if the Dark Ages have come calling and they want a do-over.

In my own little industry, 2020 has exposed longstanding inequities whereby talented new voices are crowded out and marginalized because of ethnicity or gender. Within it are cult-like forces and self-appointed gatekeepers whose only job it seems is to consolidate power for themselves. Change does not come easily for the entrenched, nor does humility.

Then there are those in the production end of the business who would exploit a vulnerable workforce or destroy a stand of trees in service to monoculture. The business of wine is at an inflection point: it must serve those who demand transparency and accountability, or it will greatly suffer. I admire those who work holistically, who farm with intent, and who seek to repair what is ruined. They are the mentors and we should listen to them.

I know I’m privileged with the wherewithal to indulge my curiosity. Not everyone is so lucky. Perhaps naively, I see wine as a metaphor for a chimerical life. It’s best when it teaches us something new, takes us places we’ve never been, or reminds us of where we come from. I like it least when it asks me to narrow my gaze and to accept what is, instead of what can be.

To that end, my blog is a never ending source of satisfaction. Which is to say, writing it is a joy. The creative process is a meditation of sorts which brings me closer to truths not found in books or seminars. My travels allow me to see the worry and the wonder in a winemaker’s eyes, which, as luck would have it, puts me in rhythm with the seasons and the cycle of the vine.

My wanderings evoke a different kind of time with a different kind of clock. One that’s telling me now is the time to shed last year’s remains — to clean house, so to speak. It’s also a time to thank those of you who read these pages and who inspire me to continue the journey.

Out with the old, in with the new.


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