How did you get into wine? For me it was a long process.
Wine is a huge subject! It covers food, history, culture, geography. For some of us, wine was introduced at an early age, an accepted part of family gatherings. Others. come to it later through friends. For me, wine came later in life.
I stayed away from wine and any other form of alcohol for a long time. You see, it does not have a good track record in my family. I got to see the ugly side of alcohol, and I didn't want any part of it. It was a combination of healthy respect, but also, fear. I had good reason to be fearful. Fast forward, and I realised I did not want to live my life in fear. So, I started looking deep inside to address some of my fears. At the same time, my children were entering their adult years, and of course 'Dad, I want to try a beer' came into the conversation. As I processed this with my kids, it helped me process a lot of myself also.
The 'culture' of things has always attracted me wether it be music, coffee, chocolate etc. When I get involved in things i'm 'all in'! I had always recognised a culture around wine. Our friends had waited patiently for my wife and I to 'come around'. They graciously drank soft drink with us at meals. When it came up that we might be interested in trying wine, they were excited!
At their suggestion, we went away for a couple of days to the Hunter Valley, NSW, to try some wine with them. It was nerve-racking even with company not understanding cellar door etiquette. We ended up at a winery tour at First Creek Wines. It was a blast. We toured the winery and got to see behind the scenes. The learner in me was in heaven. We finished up at the cellar door for a tasting. They did a great job of taking us through the wines and we never felt looked down on. We got through the whole list of wines! The objective was simple; did we like the taste of wine? We did. We even bought a couple of bottles. That night at dinner, our friends asked if we would like to try a glass of wine with dinner. With our new found freedom we said yes. We had steak, and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon! For those of you in the know, not the easiest wine to start with. I got it down with a few glasses of water!
From this point we enjoyed the freedom of enjoying a glass with dinner. We bought a bottle here and there, but it was nothing more than that. Then it all changed.
After drinking wine for a year, we got to visit Lowe Wines in Mudgee, NSW, with our same friends. Again we got a tour of the vineyard and the winery before a tasting. David Lowe is very passionate and engaging, and I was lapping it up. I enjoyed listening to his passion for excellent wine. We tasted a couple of whites out of tanks in the winery. I could tell they were good quality but that was about it. We tasted a couple of reds out of barrel and the impression was the same. Then he took us to another barrel, it was Zinfandel. I had never heard of it, and it's Lowe Wines flagship red.
I remember tasting it, and my senses exploded like never before! I started calling out what I could smell. Fruit cake, raisins, prunes, and this other aroma, forest floor. (think of the sweet smell of Autumn earth) Then excitedly I said, I can taste what I can smell. I had never experienced wine like this. David explained that my description was a hallmark of quality wine; tasting what I could smell. Then he smirked and said to me 'you should be in the industry'. We giggled and I didn't think that much of it. I wondered if it was a sales technique to get us to join the wine club. And after my past, the though of working with alcohol was pretty absurd.
As you can probably guess, that comment was like a hook in my brain; it wouldn't go away. A passion exploded in my life, and I still can't explain it. All I thought about was wine, and I couldn't learn enough about it. Six months later, I had to put it to rest one way or the other. I had visited Lowe Wines a few times, so I asked David what he thought about me moving into the wine industry. It was a yes, and here I am!
Fast forward to now, and here I am, a budding wine educator with a vintage, winery experience and a WSET level 3 qualification under my belt. WSET is the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust, a worldwide recognised industry qualification. Next year I hope to start my Diploma with WSET (2yrs) and I'm booked in for another vintage. I'm also in the process of launching my first wine appreciation course in the comfort of people's homes.
So, that's my story. What's yours? How did you get into wine?