Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Winemakers Make Things You Can Hold

I think back growing up in the 70’s.  My dad was true renaissance man in my eyes.  He was a mechanic, a plumber, an electrician, a rancher, a teacher, and a fireman.  He could fix anything.  He had a garage full of tools and he taught me to use them all.  Our trucks always had mud caked on them from our ranch where we grew grapes and citrus.  I learned to drive on a Ford 400 tractor and at the end of the day, after spending time doing things on the ranch, I was tired and slept like a log.

In high school, there was a shop classes, small engine repair, woodworking, classes in which you did things with your hands, got dirty, sore, maybe scraped or cut up up a bit.  But, you touched the things your worked on.  You could actually bring it home when you were done and say: “I made this.”

I was pretty good at math and science too.  Actually, electronics was my interest.  College courses at night during high school, professor recommendation to a prestigious university’s electronic engineering program.  Theory, logic, circuit design, physics; they were all very engaging and interesting.  Computer science, computer languages, design patterns, punch cards, then terminals, PCs and databases all followed.  It all makes sense to me and it is engaging.  That was my destined career path.  That was the future.  Computers were the future and you were either with it or not.

But something was missing.

I have a hard time explaining to my parents what I do.  They understand that I work with computers, and they have become quite computer literate themselves.  Necessity and interest has led them to become very proficient in e-mail, the web, spreadsheets, even digital imaging and video.  But working as a computer scientist is hard to explain.  I have nothing that I can carry into their home and say “I made this.”

I think about this when I am making wine.  Wine is a hobby for me.  It doesn’t pay the bills, not even close. But at the end of the day, I have a bottle, with a label, with my name on it.  I can take it with me to friends and\or family and say. “I made THIS.”

That is the appeal of a winemaking for me.  It fills a need to produce something tangible.  The end result is something I can hold, carry and give to friends and family.  It doesn’t require abstract descriptions of what I did to produce it.  It is real.  That is what winemaking is about for me.

I made this.

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