Gratitude For The Wine Industry

Gratitude For The Wine Industry

On gratefulness and the welcoming nature of the wine industry
Contributed by Tom Wark

This is the moment I start to think more deeply than I normally do about how and why my life has been transformed by wine and the wine industry. The Thanksgiving holiday always does this to me. It didn’t always. But I didn’t always have more than 30 years in the wine industry under my belt. I now have spent more than half my life approaching Thanksgiving as a member of this industry. This investment in myself and this industry has clarified a great number of things that translate into gratitude. Now seems as good a time as any to show and why this wine industry has instilled me with sober appreciation.


From the very moment I entered this industry as a neophyte with little to no wine experience, I was pounced upon by people willing to help me, tutor me, answer my questions, and show me how things worked. After 30 years, I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve met and worked with who were in any way wicked. So many of my public relations clients taught me how to be better and happily unveiled elements of the industry that made me better at what I do: Bea Beasley (a wonderful chef and friend and mentor); Bill and Sandra MacIver of Matanzas Creek (showed me what great things could be derived from principled tenacity); Louis Foppiano of Foppiano Vineyards and his family demonstrated the value of valuing history); Attorney John Hinman of Hinman & Carmichael (He guided me through my earliest explorations of wine law and regulations); Gracelyn Guyol, owner of Gracelyn & Associations PR Firm (she took a flyer on an only slightly talented guy out of college and taught me how to be a god and responsible PR person) Paul Mabray the evangelical of wine tech (took me down the wine tech path and modeled diligent optimism); Judd Wallenbrock the consummate wine CEO (the world of successful wine marketing was embodied in front of my eyes and he granted me entry). The list is so much longer.


I am not a Master of Wine (MW). I am not a Master Sommelier (MS). I do not have a certificate from WSET. I do not have a background in winemaking, grape-growing, or any family relations that have any of these things. The fact of the matter is (and don’t let anyone tell you differently) the wine industry in all its facets does not require one to possess a certification to succeed or rise in this industry. This is a reflection of the fact that the wine industry has always sought talent over professional associations. This, in turn, is most likely a result of the wine industry being primarily associated with 1) farming, 2) production, and 3) hospitality. I have known and come across and befriended folks who found themselves in this industry who never thought they would arrive here and therefore did not prepare for it. This is why so many extraordinarily bright and curious people make up this industry.

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