Thursday, July 14, 2016

Nick: Way of Life, Not a Job

Nick Briggs, who is now our associate winemaker, was one of seven final candidates Kerry and I had selected to replace our last assistant winemaker.  Nick was on of the candidates that we were particularly interested in, and we wanted to meet him.  Kerry thought Nick was great for the position, but I was still a little on the fence.  Not that I had doubts, I just wasn’t as inspired by him as Kerry was.  But we met with him, and he was dressed to the 9’s with his pleated dress pants, looking all dapper, and he spoke to us about his background and skill-set, and that he was an assistant winemaker somewhere else.  Kerry voiced the concern that this is kind of a lateral move for him (Nick).  Kerry had in his head the fear that Nick wouldn’t be around too long as he’s already been an assistant winemaker.  What would the longevity be of a guy with this level of skill?  It’s not much of a step up.  The other guy we were interested in was this English bloke that was a cellar master somewhere else, so a job here would be a huge step for him.  But when Nick approached us and said, “I have my boots and gear in the truck, and if I’m not the guy for the job, fine, but I’m happy to help you out till you find the right person.” I asked Kerry if he heard what he said.  Kerry said ‘yeah’, but then I asked him again, “Did you HEAR what he said?” I knew, he was our guy.

It’s clear, it’s not just a job for him, it’s a way of life.  Nick brings everything to the table, to our winery; humor, really extensive wine knowledge, and an approachability that’s perfect for what we want guests to feel when they arrive.  In business, there needs to be a balance of all moving parts.  Nick brings an attitude and a personality that is all about passion.  In the wine life, you can have two attitudes:  1, you make it part of you so it’s not just a job, it’s a career and something you can build and grow with.  Or, 2, it’s just another job; you take no ownership and just go from day today, no that interested, no passion.  Nick is a winemaker who’s made this winery and the story my father and I started so many years ago a part of him.  He’s a part of this winery, in a serious way.  Kerry would agree.  He does agree.  I keep thinking about him saying “I have my boots and my work clothes in the car”, and how Kerry and I looked at each other and knew.  We just knew.  So why am I telling this story?  Because it’s important to see how you can have a plan but learn as you go.  I didn’t expect for Nick to say that, and for Kerry and I to agree in the end as strongly as we did.  At first, I wasn’t as sold on him, and then after that last interview Kerry wasn’t as taken by him.  But, it was him.  His actions, his approach to the wine life, to mentoring the staff (not intimidating them, inviting them to learn about wine rather than condescending to them), to telling the Dutcher story.  It’s a perfect fit.

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