Looking Back, Looking Forward

Monday, December 17, 2018

I have woven a self-reflective thread into this post that marks a career milestone, my 40th anniversary in wine. Looking back provokes a sense of wonder, amusement, and quiet achievement. The overriding sentiment – without being sentimental – is one of remarkable continuity, growth, and a heart-warming sense of community that permeates the global wine trade.

I entered the wine biz in 1981, joining Anthony von Mandl’s team the year he purchased the Golden Valley Winery in what was then Westbank. Meanwhile, many vintages have fermented, and bottles emptied during convivial gatherings from Vancouver to Napa and now Osoyoos.

I credit my 40-year career to the many beautiful people I met, the hundreds of individuals who took the time to sit with me over the years to taste and discuss wines. And the persistence of my mortgage.

Friends and associates have come from all sides of our industry – growers and winemakers, importers and distributors, retail shop owners, and even sommeliers. Some are academics, some are journalists, some are marketers. Many are dear colleagues. And all share a deep passion for wine.

Those of you who have supported me over the years will allow me to reflect on a career that spanned the early beginnings of the Okanagan wine industry up to the mature wine region it is today. From the early days of Clos du Val, CedarCreek, Rosemount, and Frescobaldi to “hatching” Burrowing Owl and Sandhill while stewarding the wines of Christian Moueix, Chuck Wagner, and Hubert Trimbach, to name a few. Piero Antinori always told me not be such a name dropper. Then an extended and gratifying tenure with Mission Hill and the opportunity to launch another boutique brand, CheckMate. All along, I was privileged to work with some of the most gracious people in food and wine.

A wine career in Canada doesn’t get much better than that. Along the journey, wine has been a constant and lifelong comfort, but the aspect I value above all has been the friendships cultivated and nurtured, many of which have endured to this day.

My working life in wine was a joy and a chore, easy and challenging, exhilarating and mundane. Yet, I love it. We all have an obligation not to grow jaded in our work, and I decided to take on new challenges along the way, moving forward with the excitement and enthusiasm with which I began this wine journey back in 1981.

With 40 years in the wine biz crowding my thoughts, a final word of unsolicited advice. How about:

That’s it.

Here’s to the future, which will bring all of us challenges, rewards, and hopefully, great wine aplenty.

I’ve got to go—Patti’s calling.

Honey, let’s have a glass of wine.

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