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 has become 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.”
If you follow social media for wine at all, you must be familiar with Julien. He is the number one rated expert on Klout with a rating of 82. Now, you may not know what Klout is, but let me tell you that being number one in anything is amazing! And in terms of wine, he is the number one person to follow on social media out of 110,000 experts!
But what makes him even more amazing, is that he is one of the nicest, sweetest, kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. For being number one, he has no pretensions at all! He is down to earth and so willing to sit down and share his passion. I reached out to Julien in 2015 when I was first started my crusade for #CabFrancDay. I asked him if he would be willing to help me promote the day. He responded immediately, and allowed me to write a guest post on his blog. “Give Cab Franc its day: it’s more than a blending grape.“
In August of this year (2016), I attended my first Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California. I was so excited to be attending, and to have the opportunity to meet so many other bloggers, but when I heard Julien was attending, I got super excited. I wanted to meet the person behind the videos and blog posts. I wanted to thank him personally for helping me get my wine holiday some much-needed publicity. What I found, was a very sweet, gentile gentleman that truly radiated passion.
Here is his story, in his words. I would say, I hope you enjoy it, but if truth be told, I know you will.
Pursue your passion, hmmm? But what does it actually mean?
When Lori asked me to write this column with no other brief than “tell your story of how wine is your passion and why you feel obligated to Pursue Your Passion”, I first had to ask myself: what does it mean to Pursue a Passion, and what about the way I have done it is an interesting story?
Unlike other guests in this column, I have no merit in having pursued my passion for wine…
I was born and raised in France, where wine is never too far off tables and landscapes. Although it’s fading away now, for many here, wine has been a way of life, more than just a beverage for quite a while. A few millennia let’s say!
As a young biology graduate, “I fell in a jar of wine” – I mean I did an internship at a local winery-, and decided I was going to pursue this path until the end.
I was recently asked at the Wine Bloggers Conference in California: “So what did you do before you got into wine?” Taken by surprise, my answer was: “What do you mean, what did I do before wine? I have never done anything else than wine: before wine I was a kid!!”.
Pursuing a passion is easy when that’s what you’re meant to be doing. When it calls to you. When you know that’s what is going to make you happy. When you can’t breathe without working towards embracing it.
Pursuing a passion is selfish. Pursuing a passion is ego centered, because it’s doing what you love doing, not what’s best for others.
What is harder though, is to become an expert, accumulate knowledge to serve the cause and push it beyond what is already known. What is harder is then to share the knowledge, and spread the word about your passion: ‘the sharing’. That’s when hard work comes in to play. That’s when giving with no expected return proves your worth and how much passion you are actually deploying beyond the business side of things.
Producing Cabernet Franc in Paso Robles like Lori and Mike do, for sure is hard work, and a sincere act of faith. But fighting like they did to get the #cabfrancday acknowledged and celebrated on the calendar, is where the real passion comes in to play, when ‘the sharing’ really starts.
A wine producer I visited last week in Catalonia, Spain (Pepe Raventos of Raventos i Blanc winery it was) told me: “it’s not making wine that’s hard, it’s selling it!” I too firstly strongly disagreed. But then I thought about it.
Why is he saying that? And how can this be true when you know how much hard work goes into making good wine?
Simply because producing wine is ‘just’ applying a few techniques, and putting a whole lot of money into grape juice! For an established wine producer, this is just BAU. But selling it is indeed a whole different story. Selling is when ‘the sharing’ starts. When a winery has to demonstrate its worth, telling its story, and genuinely share the real passion… hoping to make sales out of it.
So what does ‘Pursue your Passion’ actually mean, to me anyway?
I spent 10 years making high-end wines in 7 countries around the world, because I wanted to understand what good wine is, and what it is made of. I learned that it is made of passion, by people who have ‘pursued their passion’ increasing their skills to make a better product so they could share it.
But I realized pursuing MY passion, was for me to go beyond the technique of making the wine, and extend ‘the sharing’ much beyond the people who tasted the wines I’d made.
‘Pursuing my Passion’ really started when I launched my website/blog SocialVignerons.com. Then only have I started the real ‘sharing’, giving away knowledge for no expected returns, just to support the cause of wine, just to spread the love our vignerons (wine growers) have for the product.
Then only have I started to add my own brick to the millennia-old wall of knowledge around wine. Then only have I given away my selfish passion, for the genuine benefit of others, so many more can share the joys and knowledge of wine around the world. Then only was I blessed that hundreds of thousands started following my passion for the journey.
Pursue your passion: yes. But more importantly: share it!
Julien Miquel @JMiquelWine