Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

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Barry Paul Price
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#1 Post by Barry Paul Price » June 28th, 2017, 11:06 am

What just thinking about what it takes to be a good winemaker, and thought I'd ask actual winemakers!

RUNNING LIST (Update June 29/17)
- Orientation towards detail

Are there common personality traits among good winemakers?
Last edited by Barry Paul Price on June 29th, 2017, 4:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#2 Post by Todd Hamina » June 28th, 2017, 1:46 pm

Narcissism.
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#3 Post by Matthew Brown » June 28th, 2017, 2:52 pm

Todd Hamina wrote:Narcissism.
Why else would they want to have their name on the labels?

I'm sure there will be a Big Baller Brand wine if that shoe thing works out....
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#4 Post by Merrill Lindquist » June 28th, 2017, 3:29 pm

Nice, guys. I guess I should name my next special bottling "Merrill," to keep y'all happy.
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#5 Post by Barry Paul Price » June 28th, 2017, 3:43 pm

Merrill Lindquist wrote:Nice, guys. I guess I should name my next special bottling "Merrill," to keep y'all happy.
Or all-caps MERRILL
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#6 Post by Casey Hartlip » June 28th, 2017, 4:14 pm

Good farmers make winemakers good.
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#7 Post by Matthew Brown » June 28th, 2017, 4:14 pm

Merrill Lindquist wrote:Nice, guys. I guess I should name my next special bottling "Merrill," to keep y'all happy.
Sorry.
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#8 Post by Michael Martin » June 28th, 2017, 4:24 pm

Every one I have met personally knows their craft, is personable and confident. Just like most other successful people. But the best ones leave you feeling like you are just a bit "extra" special to them because they give you a taste, a tour, a sip or maybe even a bottle that most others don't get. I think that is the secret sauce when it comes to the sales side of the house.

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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#9 Post by N Weis » June 29th, 2017, 9:52 am

I love the question.

I've been around the business my entire life. I've worked with and met what I consider to be good winemakers from all sides of the spectrum.

There are city mice and country mice. Ego maniacs and the most humble people you could imagine (to a fault). Rigid, process-driven people and flighty, flaky artisans. The most extroverted, bombastic people you'll ever meet and people who are painfully socially awkward. Science PhDs and Philosophy dropouts. Decisive, damn-the-torpedoes, assertive types and people who can't seem to decide whether or not they want room for cream in their coffee.

I suppose on further reflection, the one thing we all must have is the ability to devote one's entire focus and attention on one or more tedious thing(s) for long periods of time. ADHD and activities such as blending sessions (and many more activities) do not mix well. So, an orientation towards detail, even if that's not one's natural default mode, must be able to be switched on, as it tends to make all the difference.
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#10 Post by Casey Hartlip » June 29th, 2017, 10:17 am

Yeah Nate, but which one are you?
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#11 Post by N Weis » June 29th, 2017, 10:58 am

I prefer to remain mysterious.

Buy me lunch some time and you can decide for yourself. ;-)
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#12 Post by Merrill Lindquist » June 29th, 2017, 1:59 pm

N Weis wrote:I love the question.

I've been around the business my entire life. I've worked with and met what I consider to be good winemakers from all sides of the spectrum.

There are city mice and country mice. Ego maniacs and the most humble people you could imagine (to a fault). Rigid, process-driven people and flighty, flaky artisans. The most extroverted, bombastic people you'll ever meet and people who are painfully socially awkward. Science PhDs and Philosophy dropouts. Decisive, damn-the-torpedoes, assertive types and people who can't seem to decide whether or not they want room for cream in their coffee.

I suppose on further reflection, the one thing we all must have is the ability to devote one's entire focus and attention on one or more tedious thing(s) for long periods of time. ADHD and activities such as blending sessions (and many more activities) do not mix well. So, an orientation towards detail, even if that's not one's natural default mode, must be able to be switched on, as it tends to make all the difference.
I like your answer, Nate. And if you will join me, I would be happy to buy you lunch and talk shop, etc.
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#13 Post by Merrill Lindquist » June 29th, 2017, 2:02 pm

Nate's suggestion of the ability to switch on the "orientation toward detail" I think is key.
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#14 Post by John Morris » September 6th, 2017, 9:00 am

I've been struck over the years by the humility of many of the great winemakers I've met in Europe. And I include the owners I've met who are closely involved in the winemaking. My hunch is that the vagaries of weather and the quirks of the grape species keep people modest about their ability to understand or control everything. Also, outside Bordeaux and Tuscany, most of the top European properties are family-owned and the owners and winemakers were people of the land for generations. Hence they don't put on any airs.

Examples:

DRC: Aubert de Villaine - Despite his privileged roots, he conveys the sense that he is merely a trustee.

Rhone:
Noel Verset (before his death) - Truly a man of the land.
August Clape - Ditto
Thierry Allemand

Germany:
JJ Prum: Katarina Prum
Weingut Willi Schaeffer: Christoph Schaefer
Weingut Rudolf Furst: Sebastian Furst
JJ Christoffel: Hans Leo Christoffel (now retired)

Piemonte:
Bartolo Mascarello (before his death)
Giacomo Conterno: Roberto Conterno
Burlotto: Fabio Alessandria and his father
Vietti: Alfredo Currado (before his death)
Produttori di Barbaresco: Aldo Vacca

In California I've seen that humility in people like Paul Draper at Ridge and Wells Guthrie at Copain. (Draper is very opinionated, but I think still modest in the face of nature and the vine.)

This humility carries on in in Germany, as evidenced by the first three winemakers above, offspring of well-known producers. In Piemonte, some of the younger generation of winemakers (no names mentioned) are somewhat cocky. I've found I like their wines less. Coincidence?

I've encountered a few arrogant people in Burgundy, too -- the ones who were not from peasant families.

Bordeaux, which has been dominated for centuries by large properties with wealthy (often absentee) owners is a different culture. There's a lot of haughtiness there. The social stratification of French society is on display in spades in Bordeaux!
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#15 Post by Nolan E » September 6th, 2017, 12:18 pm

Michael Martin wrote:Every one I have met personally knows their craft, is personable and confident. Just like most other successful people. But the best ones leave you feeling like you are just a bit "extra" special to them because they give you a taste, a tour, a sip or maybe even a bottle that most others don't get. I think that is the secret sauce when it comes to the sales side of the house.
Yeah, sounds more like a good salesperson.

A good portion of winemakers I've met are painfully awkward.
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Are There Common Personality Traits Among Good Winemakers?

#16 Post by Russell Faulkner » September 17th, 2017, 10:39 am

I agree with John, Mosel producers are generally exceptionally wonderful people. One really feels part of a family. Sort of.

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