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Why Winemaking is Like Parenting

There is something that we are beginning to realize at this stage of our lives. It is that winemaking, like parenting, is an endeavor that requires patience, resources, patience, sensibility, patience, responsiveness, patience, and most of all, patience. The very creation of a family, like the planting phase of a vineyard can be quite fulfilling and is often looked at as an end in itself. In fact, there are businesses solely devoted to this phase of both endeavors. However, for those that continue, then comes the training phase which is inextricably connected to protecting one’s rapidly growing charges from pests and harmful  conditions. These training and establishment phases can seem to take forever, and can, at times, be quite unrewarding. Time, money, and effort can all seem to go into some kind of mini ‘black hole’ with absolutely no reward.

Then as the first crops come in from the vines, and in seeing the developing personalities of the two-legged crops, we begin to realize that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. I suggest that vinification of the first grape crops could be thought of as dealing with the dreaded ‘teenage years.’ Only after the wines have been blended and are still in barrel do we see that there is hope once again for a favorable outcome, just as many parents find as their children reach young adulthood. Bottling is the ‘letting-go’ part. And finally, after months and/or years in the cellar we may fully reflect upon, enjoy and learn from the entire  experience.

Unlike parenting, where one is not normally able to see dozens of these cycles begin and end before beginning another, winemaking is a process that offers the opportunity for cause-and-effect to be better understood. It allows for it, but does not guarantee that true understanding will ever be achieved. Wines, like humans are all individual, staggeringly complex things. The mystery is part of the enjoyment.

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