Thursday, July 21, 2016

It’s Hot but I’m Not Moving

Our first ever Grower’s Party, I think in ’08, was held on the crush pad.  Kerry and I decided to take a backseat to the growers, which was really the point of the party— to showcase the growers and their family stories, and their passion for their vineyards and the fruit that comes from it, all for the club members to taste from the barrel right next to them.  It’s fair to say we didn’t think this thing through all the way, as it was in the high 90’s, and the heat radiating off the concrete registered at about 130 degrees.  I was in the back grilling food and members kept coming back and urging me to bring the growers inside.  I mean, it was hot out there over that concrete, and if we can get them away from it, we should.

I went out to the crush pad after a few more guests approached me.  Tina Maple and Eivor Taylor had bags of ice all around their bodies, and standing close to the tanks which were in full chiller mode (with the glycol jackets around the outside of the tanks).  Even still, they looked like they just got out of the lap pool.  Eventually, we had them seated in a shaded area.  But, I overheard someone say “I wish I would have gotten a taste.” So one grower, then another, then all of them went back to the pad.  So did all the club members, and my staff followed them trying to get them back in a shaded area.  I laugh now, like with many of these stories, but then I was genuinely concerned.  I mean, it was hot, and the weather was hard on the younger people let alone growers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s.  

They wouldn’t leave their barrels, they wanted to tell their stories.  The Grower’s Party is a whole day dedicated to them, ‘cause they are the stars of the show.  So it’s no wonder they didn’t want to leave the pad, standing their ground in that hotter-than-hot heat.  And they did NOT budge.  This is about relationships, I’ve said before about this business, and this pride in our work is one of the many things we have in common with our growers.  The intensity in representing their family vineyard is what kept them on that hot crush pad, that first year.

      Now, of course, we have the party on the lawn.  It’s still hot, yes, but a little bit more tolerable.  But it wouldn’t matter, they won’t leave their barrels’ sides, for anything.  I love seeing members of my staff bond with the growers, learn more about the wines they pour everyday and where the fruit came from.  The Grower’s Party truly is a day for the growers.  I’ve always felt it was like the rockstars entering the arena, and I think that we all should see it that way.  The same level of pride and joy we feel toward the Dutcher Crossing  wines is easily mirrored if not slightly eclipsed by these growers and what they feel for their vineyards, the fruit they provide for our wines.  There was just no convincing them to walk away from their barrels.  That kind of passion can’t be instilled, or taught.  It’s just who they are, and that can only be admired and studied by consumers and those of us in the business.

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