Jan. 21, 2020
I am kicking off 2020 with a commitment to connect with you, the friends and fans of Parallel 44 and Door 44. Every week I want to reach out to you to chat about wine and life. The topics will be wide ranging but will be focused on what you want to discuss.
Too many wine blogs are too intellectual and about wine appreciation instead of being more emotional about why we love wine in the first place. There is nothing wrong with learning about and appreciating the aspects of wines as we will certainly do some of that, but like all great things in life, whether it’s art or music or sports, one must first fall in love with it before one can learn about it. Most people remember the beauty and pleasure of a certain song before they ever learn about the specific notes and keys used to compose it. Most avid baseball fans fell in love with baseball before they ever learned all of the rules and strategy involved with it.
For me, I am often asked, “What made you decide to start a vineyard and winery in such an unlikely place?” For me the answer is an emotional one.
It was August 15, 1994 and Maria and I were on our honeymoon in Sonoma California. We had just finished our second year of law school and decided to explore wine country even though we had very little money to spend and virtually no knowledge of wine. We were at the Francis Ford Coppola winery and decided to buy the least expensive bottle of wine from the tasting room and a baguette. We snuck into the vineyard and found ourselves somewhere in the middle of the vineyard. We sat down on a dusty patch between two rows of vines and struggled to open the bottle. Finally we heard that classic sound of “Pop!” We took turns drinking right from the bottle as we did not have any glasses and we had to tear apart the baguette with our hands.
I remember it like yesterday as we ate bread and took turns sipping from the bottle. After a few bites and sips of what seemed like the best wine I ever had, I leaned back and said to Maria, “Why don’t we do this in Wisconsin?”
There was something about the blueness of the sky, the taste of the wine, the simplicity and the beauty of the setting. It all came into focus as I looked at Maria and just soaked in the moment with her that made me feel that I had been here before.
Another word for this feeling would be “Inspiration.” Something stirred in me from that moment on. We did not act on it right away. In fact, it was 11 years later and with three children under the age of three in 2005 when we planted our first vines at Parallel 44.
But that moment in August of 1994 grew inside of us and inspired us to do what most thought and might still think was a crazy thing to do, to start a vineyard and winery in the unlikely setting of the Frozen Tundra of Wisconsin where beer, cold and snow rule the day. In a way, this was actually a perfect place to start our vineyard and winery.
You may ask why, when it would have been so much easier to do this in warm sunny California. The answer is simply this, “We wanted to inspire a purpose-filled life.” Sure, we want to and continue to make many award-winning wines here, but wine is really just a vehicle for us to express and share a life filled with purpose. It serves as an example of how each of us is called to live our lives with a purpose to share with the world.
I invite you to share with us your personal stories of purpose and moments of inspiration. It is my hope that through this blog “Inspired Wine” that we can continue to discuss and share our passions, interests, and stories about what we love about wine, but even more so, what we love about life!