Thursday, October 08, 2009

Catching a Ride on a Smile

From the “When you need a lift ” department

The wine trail this week has taken me to Austin and back home to Dallas. Holiday showcases, wine tastings, a visit with the iconic professor of Italian, an evening with a master sommelier and a fellow Angelino, and many many people, talking about wine and popping corks. It’s been a busy week, and we ain’t finished yet. But that's not what this post will be about.

There have been some real crazy things that have happened, but I also noticed a pattern that has developed, and one that I am happy to recognize. And that is of the ascendancy of more energized women in the wine business, and let me tell you: they are young and they have a whole new way of looking at these things that I think is gonna rock the wine business.

Scene 1: At a wine trade holiday tasting. I’m standing there listening to my colleague, Damon Ornowski, preaching the gospel of Kracher to both the willing and the uninitiated, and off in the corner of the room I see a group of lively young women, talking to themselves. They’re giddy. They’re excited. They’re newbies. But the energy and the excitement that is streaming off of them is infectious. I catch their smiles and watch them as they skip from table to table; every wine a new experience. A Pinot Noir here, a Rioja there, it’s like watching someone when they take their first step. Maybe it’s the party-like scene, maybe it’s that it doesn’t seem like work to them. I hope it isn’t just that. What energizes me is their unbounded jubilation at being in a business that they are really excited about. Remember that scene in “Catch me if you Can” with Leonardo di Caprio, where he is walking with his gaggle of new stewardesses? It looks something like that.

Scene 2: I’m talking to a young lady who works in the business. She is intense and very, very competitive. She also has amazing knowledge of wine and food, more like someone twenty years her senior who was into wine and food in a deep way. In this era which is shaped by the plate tectonics of an industry and economy in turbulence, as a relative newcomer, she as well has had to deal with those dynamics. And being relatively new to the scene, there are many layers above her, peopled with those mere mortals who also have their own fears, agendas and concerns. It’s a lot for anyone to deal with, but with one who is just startling their new life, in a new world, I can sympathize with her. Funny thing, it’s also a brave new world for this ‘ol silverback as well. Every day is a call to re-invent and energize oneself to find a new way to solve the old problems. My inspiration from her came from her willingness to ask questions and to listen to possible solutions and then to go forward. I caught her smiles. She won’t get stung by the bees. She’ll be the one up to her neck in tupelo honey.

Scene 3: At a wine bar in Dallas, showing some really nice Italian wines, a Kerner white and a trio of Tuscans, one Chianti and two Brunellos. At the bar, along with the wine bar manager and a fellow server were two young ladies. One was of Italian descent and the other was an exotic Asian-Indian lass. The wine bar manager was pulled away from our presentation by a client who wanted to talk his ear off about Walla-Walla. The other chap had to do double duty, tasting with us and watching the tables. The two young ladies were on board from the get go. Even while the Walla-Walla chap was flapping around, making our work a little hard with his distracting inanities about the joys of Walla Walla (I wanted to ask him where he worked so I could go to his place of work and pretend to be an expert in his line of work), the Asian-Indian lady looked me straight in the eyes and telepathed in a Shakti-like way that she was paying attention and to focus on her, not the buffoon at the end of the bar. The ancient soul emerged and soothed the silverback. Back to work.

One of the Brunellos was rustic and was showing a fair amount of volatile acidity. You know what? They loved the wine. They were not know-it-alls, they didn’t act bored with listening to a chap old enough to be their dad (or their professor). No, they bought the ticket for the ride and they rode all the way to the end. They were ready and smiling. Right on the money. Making my day. There is an old saying, “'E femmene ne sanno na cchiú d'o diavulo”. In the Neapolitan dialect it translates to “women know more tricks than the devil.” I’m not sure if the young women I encountered were tricking me and the world around them, but if they were, more power to them. And if they just happen to have the seed of passion for this business, there is a future waiting for them with tons of joy. This is my prayer. And you know what they say about prayer? No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil.

You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout...

Images from PSA Airways ( a once-upon-a-time California airline, similar to Southwest Air)


Marco Ciro said...

You must have a thing for stewardesses, non? Good to hear that young women are taking up the torch and running with it. Passion like that is infectiously energizing.

Alfonso Cevola said...

well,, Marco, but now we have to call them flight attendants.
Thanks for checking in!

jeg said...


Maybe too much high country air, or did you really mellow out that much last week?

Tracie P. said...

you tell those ladies to keep their heads up, ace!


Alfonso Cevola said...

jeg- the country air was pretty nice, my friend. Not like this city stuff we call air.

Tracie B - Thanks amica, will do. Anche tu!

Anonymous said...

I can vouch: He so mellowed out. But not enough to see the cows outside the window eating grass in the starlight.

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