Many of us have big dreams like planting our own vineyard or buying a house in Tuscany, or spending a year living in another country (or even relocating there). Whatever your life wish, my first piece of advice is to dream BIG about your own grand plans and then start putting the practical pieces in place. Sometimes those ideas can emerge when it is least expected!
One of my own unplanned efforts started with a family side trip to the Argentine wine country before my niece’s wedding in Santiago, Chile. I became totally entranced by the beauty of the area and the warm and welcoming Argentines, especially Cecilia and Martin who own the CAVAS wine lodge. As our group traveled around to various vineyards, hiked in the foothills of the Andes, and went horseback riding across the pampas, I was hooked.
My entrepreneurial antenna went up when I realized that the UCO Valley, where most of the vineyards are located, was very similar to NAPA Valley 25 years ago. It was poised for explosive growth. As a result, I was a man on a mission. How could I get into the winemaking business in this wonderful part of the world?
As friends of mine traveled to Argentina, I asked them to do some sleuthing for me. Finally, Martha found the right solution… to become a part of the Vines of Mendoza, a newly created business that was being established by an American, Michael Evans, and his Argentine partners. Tapping into my frequent flyer miles, I hopped a plane to Buenos Aires then on to Mendoza to see the operation first-hand. After driving through the soon-to-be-planted vineyard in Michael’s 4 wheel drive, attending an asado (Argentine barbecue), and drinking some malbec, I realized that it was my destiny to become a winemaker.
I actually called myself the “Accidental Winemaker” and you can read all of the details in this story that I wrote for the New York Times.
Since the planting of our vines in 2009, I’ve traveled to the UCO Valley every year, either for the harvest or the blending, with friends and family in tow, creating memories that live on within us.
When I’m there, I stay at CAVAS (if you go, tell them Michael sent you) and also at the sleek resort that is now nestled within the Vines of Mendoza itself.
We produce malbec and cab franc and syrah, as well as a special reserve. I now get to call myself a winemaker, as one of my “life layers,” when we decide on each year’s vintage blend with our incredible Wine Director, Mariana Onofri.
What’s your big ambition? It may not be to plant a vineyard, but you’ve got something inside of you that you are postponing. Why is that? There is a way to make it happen. As you read in the NYT piece, I figured out a model that made it work for me, both financially and in a practical way. There is always a way to get it done with a little creativity and ingenuity.
The ROAR manifesto is to never stop reimagining, especially in the second half of your life.
Also, to be open to what might come your way, even unexpectedly. When I took that first trip to Mendoza in 2006, I had no idea where it would take me.
Life dreams can emerge at any time in our lives. We just have to be willing to be the dreamcatcher and find a way to turn it into a reality. Let’s discuss it over a glass of our Lechuza malbec!