(c) 2016 Isinglass Estate LLC

Jul 30, 2017

Have you ever done something dumb?


Just every day around here, for me. It's OK. I'm learning. Every damn day.


I'll admit that there have been times that I thought I was pretty clever. Like when someone at a wine tasting tried to hit on me after a few too many tasty beverages. It went something like this...


"Hey, I'm a doctor"

"Well that's awesome. I left medical school to chase a boy to Kansas."

(My hint is not taken..)

"So... your wine. It says 'I singl', and yes I am..." He holds up a bottle.

(Me, pretending to be shocked...)

"Maybe you should read the whole label- "I singl ass".

At least his friends enjoyed this.


OK, so perhaps the fight wasn't fair since I was perfectly sober, but I felt pretty clever.


Most of the time though, as I navigate an entirely new industry with no formal training, I prove to myself that I am kind of an idiot. A few examples for you to enjoy...


The time I was sure that I could fit all of the 2016 Frontenac into a 4000L VCT (variable capacity tank, about 1050 gallons) at once to ferment on the skins. I patted myself on the back after a long day harvesting with the Isinglass Team. Put the lid on and inflated the gasket- and they said I couldn't do it- ha, I showed them. Next morning- came in to find the lid (about 60 pounds) on the floor, and grapes everywhere- walls, ceiling, the tanks, everywhere. It looked like a horror movie set. Ooops. Turns out fermenting red wine on the skins puts out some pretty good expansion pressure.


Then there was the time I bottled, corked and sealed 2700 bottles of my first white blend. I was pretty awesome that day. I just made my first wine. Because I am a vintner. And I am awesome. Evidently, there's a thing called 'cold stabilization" that I missed along the way. So when I put my white blend on ice and poured a tasting, I got crusty sludge out of the bottom half of the bottle. Two hours of humble pie googling later- I had to explain to my team that I was in fact an awesome moron. We spent the next week unsealing, uncorking, and pouring back out every. single. bottle. That's three pallets of wine, one at time. Well, except one bottle. I keep one bottle of this mess on my desk. It says on the label in sharpie "Humility Check. Hey Smartie- you really messed this one up!"


So mistakes happen. Cleverness happens. The bottom line is that neither one defines you. What does define you, is what you do about it. At dinner sometimes, I ask everyone to say what they got wrong today (not my idea- I read about it somewhere). The idea is to take the panic, worry or embarrassment out of getting something wrong- because let's face it, none of us are done screwing up so we might as well get over ourselves. Then we can celebrate what we learned, share the lesson, and even maybe laugh about it. By having these conversations as a family, we endorse risk taking, acknowledge that life can have mixed results, and always consider what can be done better next time.


And as for this exercise itself- I have learned that my seven year old is a sadist and routinely starts this conversation when she already knows that one of us screwed up especially big that day.