Chapter Three: It’s all about perception

As you know, I’ve been working with a young man I met when some buddies of his were vandalizing my property at one of my construction sites. He asked me for a job, and after giving it a lot of thought,  I decided to give him an opportunity and see where it goes.

Lyle is working in my vineyards after school and on the weekends, picking up brush and stuff. I’m also having him do some work at Ledson Hotel, so he can get a broader scope of experience. He does what you ask him to do, he’s a very nice kid, but I’m seeing that he’s not as focused as he should be at this point in his life. Therefore, it takes him longer to get things done. I really believe it comes down to his outlook on things – it’s all about his perception on life. 

You know, I’ve learned that perception really is the key to your life. How you envision everything that happens in front of you, or how you perceive what you think someone is saying, determines how you react and those reactions determine your life. And that’s what I’m working on with Lyle, trying to get him to visualize things differently than what he sees on the surface.

This isn’t something you learn overnight, but by practicing the philosophy over and over again. So when I spend time with him, I try to point out little things that he can look at differently. Like, this isn’t a job, it’s an opportunity. And with every opportunity comes the possibility that you can take the task at hand above and beyond what is being asked of you. I really believe that perception is often the difference between success and failure.


Just released: A Russian River Valley Pinot!

My Tasting Panel and I just opened the 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Reserve and it has aged beautifully in the bottle. Time to release it!

The fruit for this enticing Pinot comes from the Cleary Vineyard in a cool little town called Freestone. The town’s name dates back to 1853 and refers to a public sandstone quarry. Only about 50 people live there and the town is only ½ mile from end to end. The vineyard benefits from cool nights and warm, breezy days, perfect for growing pinot.

The wine has a very unique character, thanks to five different clones that add a complex and unique Freestone personality to it. A complex array of rich fruit and sweet earth in the nose is followed by red and black juicy fruit and pie spice. The finish is silky and smooth with notes of strawberry. This well-balanced Pinot’s a beauty.

I usually try to let wine age a couple more months in the bottle before opening it, even after releasing it. But I can’t wait to pair this up with some wild game – roast duck or pheasant.  Or maybe a braised brisket. . .

A “not so petite” Petite Sirah: Ledson 2009 Lake County Diamond Ridge

As you can probably imagine, one of the most exciting parts of my job is seeing a wine start as an actual planting of a grapevine and following it all the way through to its final tasting just prior to bottling. It never ceases to amaze me. Today we tasted our 2009 Lake County Petite Sirah (future bottling) from my dear friend Jake Stephens of Diamond Ridge Vineyards.

The color is deep dark plum with aromas of robust blackberry and dark chocolate. These fruity aromas lead onto the tongue and co-mingle with full-bodied black cherry, blueberry, hints of cocoa and a slight touch of vanilla. The well-managed tannins produce a long rich finish with luscious black fruits that last to the very end.

I can’t wait to open one of these babies in a year or so, and enjoy it with barbecue beef ribs that have marinated overnight in my Cousin Mars’ family recipe!