Press Me

VINFABULA – Wine Stories

1.      Press Me

I was in the Russian River area the other day.  I love the way things meander over there.  Our Napa Valley is a crucible and very defined.  This is good for business; once they are in, they are in, and they have to go through the gift shop to get back out again.  Russian River feels like it is a long way from Calistoga for me, so I decided to visit a winery.  I drove up to a well-positioned business.  I was to learn later that during their re-model they had placed someone outside their tasting room with a small podium and some Sauvignon Blanc.  They did this because potential customers had been looking at the scaffolding then driving off.  Apparently the sight of a charming young person with some wine in glasses was enough to make them pause and re-consider.

So this is why when I marched up, a pleasant young lady offered me a glass.  It was a nice gesture but oddly it was a little too much too quickly and my focus was not ready to evaluate the wine and whether I liked it.  But this proved to be a small issue because of another aspect of this ritual.  The young lady asked casually and conversationally where I was from and what had brought me there.  She then walked me into the building and sat me down at a spot on the terrace.

The host who was to look after me came over and sat down opposite me without any wine and said “I hear you’re from over Calistoga way.”  What a powerful moment!  For her to do this required multiple steps of thoughtfulness.  That the young lady at the front had to ask the question, she had to hold my answer, find my host, share the information, my host had to hold it while working her other customers and then come over and present this polished pebble of information graciously into my hands.

I am struck in our industry how often we feel that “if we make it they will come.” That somehow the quality of our work and the endeavor and passion that went into it alone will carry the day.  This has occasionally strayed into self-importance and puffery and that gesture of personal connection has been left as a minor player in the relationship.

If you think of the wine tasting experience as a relationship, and like any meaningful relationship, then the work of Gattman & Levenson at the University of Washington in the mid 80’s becomes very interesting.  Like in our exchanges with loved ones, customers are making requests for connection, or “bids” as he called them.  In response and we are either “turning toward” or “turning away.”  Do we look up and pay attention or look down and study a screen?  This topic has a lot more meat on it than this little taste explores.  But as a starting point, the act of acknowledgement and then demonstrable caring at this winery was a “turning toward” moment that resonated throughout the tasting and back into to my mind’s eye even today, many months later.

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