What is the definition of being successful? Is it making more money than you know what to do with? Is it having letters after your name that people aren’t even sure what they mean? Or is it simply being happy? When Mike and I decided to enter the wine business, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road. We were realistic. We understood that we would neither be an overnight sensation, nor ever be as recognized as Robert Mondavi. That’s not why we entered the business. We entered the wine industry because we love wine and it was our dream to own a winery. We chose to not just wish or dream about it, we made a conscious decision to make it happen.We chose to Pursue Our Passion.
It’s a scary thing chasing down your dreams, but if you don’t enter the race you are never going to win. One of my favorite sayings about Pursuing Your Passion was made by “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky. He very eloquently stated, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” He knows you need to take risks. You need to leave the safety net that tethers you to your comfort zone so that you can experience what happens next.
In this, what I hope to be a monthly tradition, a guest blogger will tell you their story of how they pursued their passion in the wine industry. These people understood what Van Gogh meant by “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”
In this edition of Pursue Your Passion, I’d love for you to meet Michelle Williams of RockinRedBlog. She is also known on twitter as Fiery01Red. Michelle puts family above all and loves spending time with her friends and of course drinking wine. We “met” quite some time ago on twitter. I fell in love with her writing from the first post I read. I love how she entangles music with wine and somehow always finds the perfect song to represent the wine she is writing about. In Michelle’s own words:
I hear a song in every glass of wine. Music is so unique; there are endless styles as well as endless opinions; much like wine. In addition to food pairings and tasting notes, I use songs to help describe my perception of each wine; however, my song choices are completely subjective.
She has been one of Dracaena Wines top supporters since we entered the social media world. She is one of those people whose positiveness just exudes and overflows onto you and you have no choice but to smile. Michelle is also the reason I found a whole other group of friends on twitter that get together once a month to discuss wine and food pairings. On the second Saturday of every month #WinePW chat occurs at 11am EDT. She is actively involved in this, along with several other tweet ups and has been ranked as one of the top 100 influential wine writers to follow by Excel Wines. Her blog is followed by a mere 16,000 + people! Most recently, she is a finalist for the Millesima 2016 Wine Blog contest where she can win a trip to Bordeaux. So yeah, she not only is a great person, someone I am honored to call a friend [one I hopefully will actually meet one day], but a person who absolutely pursues her passion and does one stellar job at it!
Rockin Red Blog: A Pursuit of Passion
Most people who know me would describe me as a passionate person. I have a tendency to pursue my interests with passion. Wine is no different. My wine passion began in my mid-twenties. I was invited to my first wine tasting and I loved it. From that point I sought to learn about wine, though at a relaxed pace.
Fast forward to 2014. I was in my final semester of graduate school spending all my time writing my master’s thesis, which involved translating medieval Spanish writings into English and writing an extensive commentary. Because the work was difficult and tedious I found myself taking breaks every few hours to engage with the wine community on Twitter. As my involvement with this community grew by May 2014 I was receiving requests to review wine samples. Problem was I did not have a blog; therefore, upon completion of a master’s degree in History of the Christian Tradition 16th -18th century Latin America I began Rockin Red Blog.
The timing of the inception of my blog was ideal. I was taking a few months sabbatical to discern whether or not I wanted to pursue a PhD. As I was weighing the few pros and many cons of continuing my educational journey one thing I needed to do was keep writing. You see writing is like a muscle, if you don’t keep it in shape it becomes weak and flabby. Rockin Red Blog allowed me to keep flexing my writing muscle while pursuing a few of my passions: wine, food, music, learning, and writing.
As the months went by the passion of my blog lead to a fantastic media
tour to Valpolicella in Veneto, Italy as a guest of the Consorzio Tutella Vini Valpolicella in September 2014. It was a wonderful experience! I learned a tremendous amount about Amarone, the region of Valpolicella, and wine making in the region; as well as met many great people and ate a lot of delicious Italian food. It was a great adventure which quickly lead to a new passion: Italian wine! Learning is another one of my passions and the Valpolicella media tour was an outstanding learning experience.
Upon my return from Italy I was missing Italian wine and food. My husband and I decided to try a new restaurant near our house that had a nice selection of Italian wines, including wines from Valpolicella. We ate and drank to our hearts content. My passion for the wonderful evening lead me to write an article featuring the restaurant, the food and the wine. Spring 2015, the wine maker of the wine we enjoyed that evening came to Dallas. I was invited to a tasting event to meet him and taste more of his outstanding wines. In the fall of 2015 this same wine maker contacted me asking for my assistance representing several boutique Italian wines in Texas. I have partnered with an importer and distributor and am beginning a new journey as an Italian Wine Manager for a local distributor with these wines.
My passion of wine and education has led to many outstanding invitations to attend Master Classes, wine dinners, virtual tastings, portfolio tastings and much more. Furthermore, through the wine social media world I have met many great people and made many good wine friends in Dallas. In pursuit of my passion of wine and education I have attending Texsom in 2014 and 2015 and will attend the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2016. I believe social media is key to blog promotion and try to stay active on many different platforms. In 2015, I was named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Bloggers on Social Media” by Exel Wines.
Today, my wine passion has led to a wonderful invitation from Draceana Wines to write a guest article on their blog. As I write this article I am sitting at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, France on my way home to Dallas after a wonderful week attending the Vinisud Mediterranean Wine and Spirits Expo in Montpellier. I was invited by Vinisud and sponsored by So Wine as a US Ambassador Blogger to attend the expo and give a presentation on “How to Strategically Utilize US Wine Bloggers to Promote a Winery or Wine Region.” My presentation was very well received with lots of follow up emails and discussion. I was even interviewed for a British Wine Publication. One of the questions I was asked is what I enjoy most about wine writing. My answer was simple, “I enjoy sharing the stories of wineries, wine makers and wine regions and connecting wine consumers to new wines and wine adventures.” Ultimately this is what drives my passion for Rockin Red Blog. I love history and wine is full of history. I love church history and I strongly believe “there is no separation of church and wine.” I love wine and food, writing and learning. However, the true passion is the people. People like Lori and Mike of Draceana Wines who have worked hard to realize their dream to craft high quality Paso Robles Cabernet Franc even though they work and live in New Jersey. Wine is social. It has been a communal experience since its creation. Most vineyards planted throughout the world were planted by the church for sacrificial wine. It does not get more communal than that! Wine is a story for us all and my passion is to connect with all wine lovers; from those who partake simply for the enjoyment and entertainment, to those who are blessed to have some aspect of wine as a profession, to the Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine, to the wine makers, marketers, producers and regions. I have pursued my passion with passion for knowledge and connection; I am constantly overwhelmed with gratitude for how the blessings of Rockin Red Blog have manifested in my life. However, I do not feel I am lucky; rather, I feel it has been a culmination of preparation meeting opportunity. I cannot wait to see what 2016 offers! Cheers.