Enable the Conversation: Lessons from a Winemaker


Wine is not merely a beverage, but a way to enable conversation.  Like life, wine is about relationship and Jerry Owen, the owner of Lady Hill Winery, knows this.  Jerry is more than a winemaker; he’s a 5th generation farmer and a storyteller.  The story starts with the name of his label:  Lady Hill.  This is what he calls the land where he lives because he can count the number of boys in his family on one hand.  He calls himself a household facilitator and in recognizing his lot in life, he embraces the feminine qualities of his conversation elixir.

Beyond the powerful story and the great conversation spaces he is preparing to open in the Summer of 2015, the key lessons I am taking away from my conversation with Jerry are these:

It’s easier to tell a good story if it’s yours to tell.  No one can tell Jerry’s story like he can, so for anyone representing a brand we have to make the story our own.

Saying you’re as good as another creates an artificial glass ceiling.  By putting yourself in the same category as another, you limit your room to improve.  This is where the ceiling comes in.  You don’t have to be better than another, you just have to be different, Jerry insists.

When you get a second chance:  build, don’t repeat.  Lady Hill is Jerry’s second winemaking venture and he went into it wanting to keep what worked and purge what didn’t. The story continues in the pour.  When he first made wine he created a bottle that translated as ‘Going into the Shadows,’ so to pick up where he left off, this time we are ‘Headed into the Light.’

Who you are shows in your work.  Jerry says many don’t respect Merlot because it’s easy to abuse by over-cropping and still, it remains drinkable.  For Jerry, wine is like food, it can lose its flavor if you dumb it down in order to mass produce it.

To read how this can apply to work career or life’s work click here.

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