Buying The Album

Buying The Album - Color.jpg

We all have our moments.  The time when we are meant to be there for our friends and family, or work, or community.  We sync with the situation and put a strong shoulder to the wheel in ‘our time.’   Something happens to you and you need a hand; a particular person steps up to the plate that you would not have expected.  Meantime your bosom buddy just isn’t the right person for that situation. Or it’s a family member who was never very good with your babies, but when your kid became a recalcitrant teenager, she was a gifted and valuable mentor.  Or you worked at a place and the time came where it just wasn’t your time anymore, and you move on. 

Someone said to me the other day, “…this wine needs time.”  It got me thinking about how we and wine change together, and I told him a favorite wine story.  It revolves around the fact that what wine we want now may not be the same one in the months and years ahead.  I know people who tell me they look at a wall of Cabernet Sauvignon from one area, and brief spectrum of vintages, and they now smack their head against the nearest 3 liter saying, “…what was I thinking!”

But enough of the preamble, what is the story?  It is my favorite analogy of all time regarding wine, us, and our time to connect.

I was in a tasting room on a beautiful spring morning presenting the ‘difficult’ 2011 vintage to a collector of many vintages and bottlings, who knew the winery well.  Saying the leaner 2011 character made it a “Bordeaux” vintage could only get you so far, and this chap was obviously too informed for that line.  I presented the charms of the vintage, which I really enjoy, to him best I could.  But he must have heard the slight defensiveness in my voice.  He stopped me and explained, in a suitably raspy voice, that he was in the music business in Nashville.  He said that when he bought wine over time from a winery he liked, it was like “buying an album.”  He explained that we all get caught up with the “hit songs.” Drawn to the well-reviewed vintages with their 90+ scores all lined up like traffic going onto the Bay Bridge.  He wanted to know the winery and vineyard’s body of work.  This was why he felt that we should “buy the album not just the hit songs.”  But then he went on to take this lovely analogy further, “…and how often is it that as you grow and change, the hit song that you bought the album for, is no longer your favorite?  As you listen to the whole album over and over, one or more of the other songs, from another vintage, slowly become your favorite. It gives your album so much deeper meaning and personal connection.”  Of course nowadays you have the interesting cultural phenomenon of only having to download the songs you like and nothing you think you don’t like.  I wonder how this will affect the wine collectors of tomorrow.  Will they miss out in the end?   This story was a wonderful reminder for me to look beyond the glitter and find things that develop greater meaning over time – be it wine, or people.

As a brief aside, there is a lady in Calistoga with a small wine shop.  I told her ‘the wine album’ story one day and tears came welling up in her eyes.  Says a lot about her, and the beauty of the idea for those who search for something in wine.

Selling the rest of that 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon was a breeze.  I now had a powerful story and we all know that it is powerful storytelling that connects people to us and our wines.  Visitors would sit and wave their hands up defensively and say “Oh, the 2011…??” and I would sit calmly, bottle in hand, and simply say, “Have you ever bought an album…?”

VINFABULA – “Improve your world with a fresh perspective story audit of your business. Then profit from selecting, aligning, and telling the right stories, powerfully.