Thursday, December 15, 2016

He Called My Dog Fat!

I had the president of the Kiwanis Club over to my house for a meeting, not knowing he was the president.  While over at my house, he made a remark that got my attention, and not in a good way.  He called Dutchess “fat”.  Not suggesting she was fat, or overweight.  He just called her “fat”.  As it happened, this would be the first year that Dutcher Crossing Winery would be going to the Kiwanis Club to get a Christmas tree.  Dutchess decided to take a nap in the back of the car.  The president came out and greeted me, and I thought, “What’s he doing here?  That’s the son-of-a-gun that called Dutchie ‘fat’.” This was exciting, getting a tree for the winery and building a new relationship in the community, but I never knew a coincidence like this would happen.  I did not see this coming.  I mean, this is what I came out here for, odd moments and funny moments like this.  “He said what?” I still say to myself.  After seeing me pull up to the tree lot, his and all his co-workers’ tone changed.  They got me whatever tree I wanted, and did everything quicker than quick.  I held this over his head for years, and I got special treatment as a result.  I rarely get customer service as good as this.  That is, up until recently.
This year, 2016, I sent a couple of my guys to get a tree.  Everyone there was sad that we, Dutchess and I, didn’t come.  Come to find out, my guys left my credit card there.  So now, they make fun of me, and have the upper hand on me.  They joke with me…  “UGH!” I think, “I had the upper-hand for six years, and now it’s there turn.” I kick myself for letting the guys go.  “Ugh,” I say again to myself, “really?” But here I am, taking heat (friendly heat) after a six year reign.  I love this relationship because we can joke like this, the back-and-forth of it all.  This is part of the community that I love, and what I didn’t anticipate coming out here from Wisconsin.
        I’m trying to think of a way to get the upper-hand again.  Don’t have any ideas yet, but I’m open to suggestions.  Or, maybe I’ll just see how it goes.  That’s what the community is here in Dry Creek and Sonoma County.  Yes, we do business, but we have fun with each other as well.  I mean, calling my dog fat…  Some might say those are fightin’ words.  But not around here.  We make it fun.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Not Sure Dad Would Dig It

A lot of people don’t understated how my dad was, what kind of man he was.  He wasn’t one for excess attention.  Actually, he wasn’t one that liked attention at all.  He was all about family, community, communication, but he never wanted the spotlight on him.  So, it’s kind of a funny irony that the winery’s logo is the Penny-Farthing bike he gave to me, which to many of us symbolizes him and our family, the idea of family itself.  He wouldn’t want the connection to him.  He wouldn’t want any of this attention we give him.  I have to laugh, though…
And the Tribute label that we do, the wines that so many of our club members love and wait for, for about a year each time actually, he’d hate it.  He’d be mortified.  Again, he was a private guy.  Big philanthropist, people recognized him for the good work that he did for the community, everyone knew it was him but he did it anonymously.  He refused to have his name attached to anything.  So, now that it’s been ten years since his passing (can’t believe it), I thought I should let people know him a little better (which he would probably also not like), and I think it’s important people recognize what Dutcher entails, and where it really starts.
The newest release of the Tribute series, a ’15 Pinot Noir, has a cribbage board on front, as the label.  This is an embrace of what cribbage is to our family, how Dad would take us out regularly to play.  This is a way to not only further educate people on the Dutcher Crossing brand, but also to share our family’s traditions with club members and people visiting the winery.  Although Dad would love that we’re raising money for melanoma research, he definitely wouldn’t want the ‘tribute’ to him.  This latest release, with the cribbage board as the label, is my favorite so far.  The next Tribute project, for 2017, will be a collaborative effort between the Mathy family business and Dutcher Crossing winery.  And, that’s another thing Dad loved.  Bringing people together, everyone having an input and sharing in the story and what we do.  But, I laugh again…  If he found out it was all about him, and everything at the winery starts with him, he’d kill us.
Ten years since he’s passed.  The story starts with him, and keeps going with him.  That’s how we tell the DCW story.  The story’s about family, community.  He didn’t want attention, but he has everyone’s attention.  From him coming out here with me over and over looking for wineries, helping me fulfill my dream of owning a winery, all of it.  This is how I honor my father and share his story as well as mine.  Again, would he like it?  No.  He would hate the focus on him, but he would love everyone coming together and enjoying what we enjoy here at Dutcher.

Family and Help, Always Here

Again, I’m going to write on the note of having an amazing team to rely on.  Mom arrived one March, we picked her up from the airport, and we just bottled the Kupferschmid Red and were so eager to give Mom a bottle (since that is the wine we do for her).  Mom was staying at my house here on the property.  Well, she fell.  And it was a pretty nasty fall, with a rather big bruise on her head and knee.  I called Lorraine, our HR head, and said, “I broke my mom.” Nick and his wife Kelly, who was just finishing up nursing school at the time, came to the hospital for support.  Toward the end of Mom’s hospital visit, Kelly stayed behind while Nick and I got some food and prescriptions for Mom, while she waited to be discharged.  Another employee at the time watched over Duchess while all this was going down.  And to top it all off, it was raining cats and dogs.  Of course.
Nick reverses my car so close to the Emergency Room exit doors that they open.  See, they just left my mother in the room, just waiting there for us to get her out.  We got Mom home, had her all settled, only to find out the next day she had a broken kneecap.  I mean, it was just one thing after another.
Between all the guys here at the winery and Kelly, my mom had around-the-clock care.  Josh, our property operations and pretty much do-everything master, even built a ramp for Mom so she could get in and out of the house.  Mom was surround by people there for her, there to make her feel safe and comfortable, which made me feel safe and comfortable of course.  Mom was the priority.  Not just for me, but for Nick, Josh, Kelly, other employees at the time.  Everyone.  They all wanted her to recover from this horrible fall and be relaxed and in no pain just as much as I did.  My mom became their mom.  I couldn’t have felt more blessed.
Kelly insisted they clean her wounds at the hospital, I forgot to mention.  Kelly was intent on caring for Mom like she was on-duty, there at the hospital doing her job.  There is nothing like hearing your mother writhing in pain.  And I’ll tell you, I could not have done this on my own.  I mean, how lucky am I to have one of my winemaker’s wife just finishing up nursing school, there to help, and more than capable of helping.  It’s like Mom had her own private nurse.  Kept saying to myself, “Oh, thank goodness…  So lucky to have my team and others around me.”
        You’ll many times hear us at the winery joke around and say, “Oh that’s what happens when you’re family.” But it really is the case here.  I don’t know what I would have done with my mom so in pain if I didn’t have the people around me that I do.  I didn’t anticipate this coming out here and fulfilling my dream of owning a winery.  But here I am, and boy am I lucky.