Monday, April 1, 2013

Winery visit

Easter week-end provides often a welcome opportunity for a short break. So we headed north, to the Napa Valley, where we had booked a blending session at a well-known winery - Monticello Vinyards. The incredible part of visiting a family-run vinyard is the passion that is the common trait of all the family members involved in the business.

While the wine-maker was leading us through the process of blending the 2011 single-varietal wines into a balanced product, that could then age gracefully (next step - taste before bottling, in some 9 months), he was also sharing his approach to creativity, and said one sentence that stuck with me.

"Art cannot be done by committee".

True. In fact, I feel that all creative processes cannot be faced with a committee; there must be a "chief creator" who will assemble the results of the iterative process, and decide on what is the best direction.

Amazingly, I found that our session was a perfect way to explore the different phases of creativity by iteration. Initially, none of us had a concept of how we were going to proceed, nor a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve. We were just in for a day of fun.

Then, once we started tasting our 4 varietals, we all started playing with concept. I guess that could be called a "brainstorming" phase... we had easy access to testing; and several times we traced back our steps to investigate a new option - adding some some Merlot, or sticking to Cabernet? how about the different Cabs? all, or just one was enough?

After a little while, it seemed clear to all that we wanted to experiment in a specific direction. So from then on, the experimenting had a clearer direction, and we started playing with the percentage. 20/80? 20/60/20? we tried several combinations, discussing what we liked in each. Of course, different opinions where voiced.

Eventually, the "chief developer" took the decision. He didn't just average out our opinions, and we didn't vote; that would have probably led to a wishy/washy product, neither round, nor complete. Instead, our Chief took a decision about what he felt the direction of our wine should go.

So, now we just have to wait a few months to determine if our Chief took the right decision; I am confident though that the result will be better than if we tried to act as a committee, reaching a compromise.