Wine Making Wisdom & Leadership

Wine Tasting

In this YPO (Young President’s Organization) Forum  Adventure: YPO Executive Leaders  learn about wine and each other  in Mendoza, Argentina, while decanting  lessons in leadership 

The Importance of Tasting and Correction. Wine makers care for their harvest like children.  There is a daily tasting of wine from wooden oak barrels awaiting the precise moment when the grape is  worthy of the family name. There is also course correction along the way and every year the relentless pursuit of better quality. Successful organizations  know that the key to longevity is attention and care to product quality and continuous improvement.

It’s About People: The charming  Frederico Cassone is passionate about his family wine and jokes that “If you don’t like my wine, don’t worry!  Wine is about people, just Like me!” Although this family need not worry about people liking their wines, (The Obra Prima Malbec was both rustic and deliciously elegant) we were so charmed by this winemaker, that if the wine was not to our liking, we would have bought a bottle anyway as a memory for the experience he provided.  Likability of Leaders matters as does the buying experience.

Importance of Branding:  Wine makers seek to build a unique brand reputation. What are   5 words other people  use to describe you?   It’s a question worth asking as leaders strive for greater self-awareness of how they show up to others and defining their personal brand of leadership.

Don’t rely on one Profit Center & Protect the Big Crop: To minimize risk from inclement weather conditions, wine makers often have various vineyards in different parts of the country so if one area is hit by inclement weather,  the other vineyard is their insurance for uninterrupted production.   Winemakers also  frequently plant olive trees as a second crop and use decoy fruit trees so that when the grapes are ripe, the birds will go for the sacrificial fruit on the trees and not the grapes. Protect your big crop with risk assessment and consider multiple profit centers and suppliers.

Take Care of  Vendors:  One of the wine makers we talked with in Mendoza noted that if one of his  suppliers has a bad year due to inclement weather, he still buys from him.  The reason:   Because long-term  relationships are more important than one bad crop.  Take care of your vendor partners.  Value long-term relationships over single business transactions.

Leverage Technology:  Argentina’s  wine renaissance is due in large part to innovative technology brought in by foreign investment. That technology has enabled the country to maintain it’s long tradition  in wine making but increase production and quality through  cloning of the best vines.  Maintain important traditions but  Leverage technology to enable your organization to grow and increase efficiency.

Develop a Global Perspective. The Cassone family has raised their children to  receive education and training abroad but always come back home to Argentina. Walter Bressia noted that when he begins thinking of creating the perfect wine,  he leaves Argentina and first envisions end customers in the United States,  France or  Canada.    Walter said that part of his success is also due to working for and learning from other companies before venturing into his own business.   Welcome and seek employees that have experience beyond yours and get out of your own neighborhood for global inspiration.

Passion is The Secret: We  asked Walter Bressia  what are the qualities needed of a successful winemaker? “Passion for Wine is # 1 and Loving what you Do” is # 2″  The winemaker went on to say  “What I have given to the wine is minuscule in comparison to what the wine has given to me”. Walter acknowledged the patience of his wife for his “other woman–aka wine”.  He laughed and noted that “I am better with wine than with women. At least the wine allows me to improve”  ” The secret sauce of Successful Leaders and Entrepreneurs is their undeniable passion and loving what they do.

Blog References

Thanks to our Fruit of the Gods Experts, Walter and Bodega Bressia, Familia Cassone and Bodega Tempus Alba in Mendoza Argentina.

Rosemary Rein is Author of “Go Wild! Survival Skills for Business and Life” .he facilitates Executive Learning Adventures for YPO, EO and Executive Teams  in the US, Latin America, India and South Africa. / 239-910-3354


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