Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Cult of the Winemaker

I just noticed something crazy. It's Saturday morning, and I thought I'd get a few computer things done before going down to the winery to rack a wine from wine tank to another. I checked our Facebook page (that I think we started about two months ago.) I try to put some little one sentence blurb on it every day or two, just to let folks know we're alive and that we do stuff here even when you're not drinking any of our wine.

So, I noticed we just clicked over a hundred fans..... In two months. Without even trying. I knew how viral this social networking one, but for crying out loud, we're not even trying. What amazes me is that folks find some of the stuff interesting. Ok, admittedly, I am really not sure what folks on Facebook want from a fan page. I do know this: they probably don't want boring, long-winded descriptions of petiole analyses and the benefits of leaf-pulling and its subsequent impact on fruit-bud initiation for the following season.

They are probably wine drinkers. And, more than that, they seem to be predominantly female. Female probably younger than me (which is strange, because I'm not 40 yet.) This is where I run into a problem that I wish people would explain to me. What do people want from Facebook?

These days I am realizing more and more something that I remember figuring out years ago. I remember back when I was about 24 years old, I went to my first winery tasting room. (It happened to be Kolln Vineyards up outside of State College, PA.) I remember talking to Jack Kolln, hoping he would show me around the tank room I could see over his shoulder. Nothing doing. But I still remember my fascination with they guy who made this beverage.

Years later, at Mount Nittany, I would realize that--even though I was pretty clueless about winemaking at the time--people would listen to everything I said. And not only that, I knew that my small amount of knowledge was already much more than they had. The folks that came to tasting roooms wanted to know more about the specific bottle of wine they were tasting. And they really wanted to hear it from the person who had made the wine.

Having been in the industry for as long as I have, this day-to-dayness is all very mundane. But every once in a while, I meet someone who really has this fascination with winemaking and who we are. Years ago, I started referring to it as the "Cult of the Winemaker". It really doesn't have much to do with who I am, what my personality is or where I'm from. It has solely to do with the fact that I create this symbiotic relationship between people and grapes and alcohol. Every winemaker carries this sign that says, "I make wine." And people associate their good feelings from and about wine with this person. It sounds a little crazy, but every time I meet someone new I try not to let people know what I do. If they find out, that's all they can talk to me about. It's crazy behavior.

Maybe I should run for political office with all this......


  1. What you do mystifies people. It is the artisin, savvy minded, nature-loving, care free, I'm gonna do it my way state of mind that folks find so free and mystical. Not many can do what you do. It is an elite yet humble existance you lead.

  2. I've been deep into computers, the Web, and IT (information technology) for about 12 years now. I do *everything* on my computer--my taxes, personal finance, listen to music, watch TV, e-mail friends, develop Web sites and databases, read the news, etc. All that said, I do not get the fascination of social networking sites. I've checked them out, and I have no interest in any of them. (My girlfriend loves Facebook.)

    I am, however, very interested in what you do, Carl. I'm a dues-paying member of the Cult of the Winemaker. :] I get my fix from your e-mail messages, this blog, magazines, and books. Keep it flowing Carl--the wine and the blog postings. :]

  3. Thanks, Howard and Lee, for your comments. Sometimes it's easy to forget you lucky I am when I am faced with some of the more dull and back-breaking jobs in my work. I guess I left normal business to work in the sexy side of farming so long ago that I have forgotten the concept of "the grass is always greener". For me, if the grass is greener, it means it's raining too much......



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