January 8 2011
This month marks the 5th anniversary of this site and, “Celebrating the Good Grape.”
It’s a notable achievement in the sense that the only other thing that I’ve done for this long, yet not as consistently, is be a good husband.
I graduated college in four and ½ years, and I’ve never held the same job for five years, so, in many ways my marriage and this site, my mistress, are both symbols of endurance to me, stability in an otherwise itinerant fecund life.
Good Grape initially started out not as “Good Grape: A Wine Manifesto,” but as “Good Grape Wine Company” in the form of a business plan for a wine retail shop. World domination was certain if I could only muster hurdling the last obstacle, the seeds of which were laid in 2000 when I came up with the name and the tagline. It was the mother of all business plans. Not a stone left unturned, not a question unanswered, except for those in my heart of hearts.
In the late summer of 2005, a friend of mine and a real estate broker who was very familiar with my business plan facilitated a meeting with both the owner of a building that would be the ideal location in addition to a small business banker who would secure a small business loan for my would-be business.
It all happened very quickly. In ’05, my newlywed wife (Lindsay) of four months had seen the effort that I put into the business plan and, I believe, thought it was more of a second career pipe dream than something I was intent on pursuing in the short-term. I wasn’t sure what my intentions were either were it not for opportunities that presented themself via my friend.
All of a sudden, when lease and loan paperwork that collateralized all of our assets appeared on the kitchen table I think the reality sunk in dramatically for Lindsay who, in her mind, hadn’t signed up for a small business vow of poverty and a near-term sentence to living in my bachelor pad house (not to mention putting everything we collectively owned on the line).
Plus, Lindsay’s father is a small business owner who started his business during the formative years of her youth. Lindsay suffered the familial consequences of a new business when there were lean years; an experience she wasn’t interested in duplicating as an adult or with her as-yet unborn children.
The decision path for me was much more dramatic. In dire conflict with my wife of just a few short months, I had a mental image of myself in the future as a broken man—dashed dreams and reticent, beaten down as a wage slave living a life of grudge-bearing assigned blame with my wife. We had some heated go/no go discussions that shook the pictures on the walls of our house and probably the neighborhood, particularly one night when my discontent spilled out to the front yard by the dark of night when taking out the trash.
To her credit, Lindsay stayed rational as I remained anything but. She helped me hone in on distilling my wine shop desires to its very essence. Truth be told, through her probing, I realized I didn’t have a burning passion to work retail, nor manage the minutia of doing so successfully. Yet, I was terribly miserable in my job at the time because it was very much a dead-end paint-by-the numbers cubicle nation role that didn’t offer any chance for the application of creativity.
My wife, patient soul that she is, helped me understand that my wine shop interests were not in the mechanics of operating a wine-related business on a daily basis; it was in the adventure of combining my interest in wine with a desire to build something I could be proud of with creativity as a hallmark.
I do have an interest in making something out of nothing, marketing and, well; I’m reasonably creative, without much classical artistic talent. My art, as she pointed out, was writing and I was allowing my Journalism degree and my desire to write lay fallow. Plus, I’m an opportunist and far too fickle creatively to stick with any one idea for a period of time, a contributing factor to the job-hopping that marked the first decade of my career. It was an epiphany that was masked in my business plan, but a truth that was manifest – the process of marketing the wine shop was where my interest was, not actually running a wine shop.
Faced with a fork in the road with one path that had a lot of risk that was driven by my personal and clouded agenda and the other fork holding the opportunity of building a life with a woman that I loved, still nascent in our nuptials, I made the correct decision.
For the foreseeable future Good Grape Wine Company would be but merely a good experience in writing a business plan.
In February of ‘05, prior to getting married and prior to the opportunity to start a business, I read a Fast Company magazine article about a kid that started a gadget blog and had made it wildly successful. With that impetus, I had been reading what few wine blogs were on the Internet at that time—Fermentation, Vinography, the former Lenndevours (now New York Cork Report), amongst others that are now long gone.
Through the process of forsaking the wine store, I did, however, make a trade-off with Lindsay: I asked her to agree that she would support the time, effort and some money spent on a web site because I truly did need to explore a creative outlet for my wine passion. My less risky failover and more personally aligned path would be starting a wine blog called Good Grape – homage to my would-be wine shop and the long ago registered domain name.
In January of 2006, after frittering away the balance of 2005 by over-engineering a web site and still grappling with my exposed truth, I acted on my New Year’s resolution to get the site going and I started Good Grape on a TypePad blog.
Since then, the single best thing I’ve done in my life aside from marrying my wife has been to start this site, an endeavor that pays me not monetarily, but richly in satisfaction and pleasure and a sense of ownership and control.
There are still conflicts with my passion and how the bills get paid by career, mostly in a forced prioritization for what must be done versus what I want to do. Yet, this week, in the midst of a murderous and unplanned for schedule with my job, I finalized plans to be a panelist at Vino 2011 in New York City and I was notified that I received a scholarship to the 2011 edition of the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.
With these previously unthinkable opportunities, I realized that I’ve come successfully full circle, found my true north, flourished in a committed, loving relationship with my wife and best friend and realized that what you own and who owns you is defined strictly by your own definition.
The takeaway for me five years later is that sometimes the best decisions we make are the decisions we don’t make, and the best pairings don’t come from the marriage of food and wine, but rather a partner who knows you better than you know yourself.
Thank you for reading this site. I do it for free and do it, self-indulgently, for myself. The fact that somebody reads it is icing on the proverbial cake ... and today it’s birthday cake.
Photo Credit: Owned | Gapingvoid.com | Hugh Macleod