Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Ascent of the Female American Sommelier - Interview with Rebecca Murphy - Pt.III

Third and final installment of my interview with Rebecca Murphy. This last part is shorter and more conversational, but it does provide a coda. And a perfect lead up to events this weekend in Dallas, Texas, where we are in the 12th year of Texsom. As hard of a ticket to get as Burning Man, but 1,000 souls, for some reason, want to stand in air-conditioned rooms, in business attire, for a long weekend and get their wine knowledge on. Becky, as I’ve written before, paved the way for many folks that will be in these rooms. And if you are a young woman (or young man) take time to find her and say hello to her and thank her. For sure, many of us are seeing far because we have stood upon the shoulders of giants like Becky.

I was talking with a friend with whom I shared a mentor. We were talking about how within certain generations, especially, the access to information and to other people's minds, essentially. And if you want to know what somebody is thinking about wine you can go to their Delectable site or Instagram page and you can get some visual clues immediately by that and know, well, I want to talk to that person, or this one might be a cool friend. And so there's a whole different kind of way in which one can nest their relationships versus the way we had to do it in the analog world. And there's also that aspect where some people are just more introverted and getting that information online is so much easier for them. The actual act of mentoring takes on different forms, these days.

Yeah. So you're lucky, because you are mentoring young people.

A couple, yeah. And it's great in the sense that they actually want to be mentored. It's funny - the ones that need mentoring probably never seek it as much as the ones that want to be mentored.

There's something about the younger ones who are studying for the M.S., for example, they are more - how do I say it - more stand-offish? I'm not easy around new people. I have to really work at it. So there's something about me. Claire Marlin commented on my post on Facebook, where she remembers being at a dinner with me at Nana and was so in awe she couldn't talk to me. I ‘m like, oh, come on! (insert embarrassment emoticon here)

But I think there's something about me if I'm not feeling comfortable then it makes people not willing to approach me. So part of it's my fault, but there's also some of the younger ones that are studying for their M.S. and stuff like that and it’s like they're in a cocoon. I remember several years ago, with James (Tidwell) and Drew (Hendricks), we invested in glasses and they came in in time for Texsom. And so I got some people from the wine competition to go to the hotel and then they had some people, volunteers who were sommelier people, polishing glasses. So my crew is on one side of the room polishing glasses and the sommelier crew is on the other side polishing glasses and there’s like this divide. I said OK - here's my name, here are the people working for me, here’s what we do. Who are you? Tell us who you are – I had to make them tell us who they were! And I understand. It's very competitive and they're working very hard. They're very focused with what they're trying to learn. So it makes it kind of hard to approach them sometimes.

Looking at the incoming generations, not just the millennials, but also one following them ( the Founders?), there are some interesting conversations that they're going to be having as well because there are so much more points that they have to touch.

Yeah, well I think there’s a lot more competition for the jobs in wine. On the one hand, back when I was starting out, it seemed to me that if you knew something about wine you were way ahead of anybody else. It may not have been a lot but if you knew something about wine. I can remember being on trips in some place and being the only woman in the group and feeling like people are “Oh, what’s she doing here?”, and we’d start talking about wine and they would change the way they behaved towards me. Because, I knew what I was talking about. I maybe didn't know about all of it but I knew what I was talking about at that time. And I had tasted a lot of wine.

In that way it was easier then. Maybe people initially were skeptical. But if I had a chance to be around them, that would go away. Today I think there's just so much more competition and all these exams that they're taking, they are into so much minutia and does that really matter? Well, it matters for the exam. It does.

Oh my God, writing about wine! Of course I'm always on the deadline - on the deadline! And it’s midnight and I can’t call anybody (this is pre-internet time we’re talking about). I can’t e-mail anybody because there was no e-mail. And now it's like, I was asking you that question about that wine yesterday and I emailed the supplier, and somebody in the winery in Italy, one of the family members, got right back to me and answered my question.

Well that's good news. You know I’ve been looking at some pictures of events that we were all went to and a lot of those people who are our age are no longer there. They didn't live to be fifty or sixty. They left earlier. Got me to thinking maybe the wine business isn’t’ a really good business for longevity of life. We know a lot of people who died early and with my luck in cars in wine country that's a double whammy.

Well, Alfonso, we’re still here.

Yeah, Becky, we’re still standing. For now.


Yeah, yeah, we’ve got the baton, the fire is burning, and we’re just looking for somebody to hand it to, right?

Oh my God, I've lived long enough to be history!

Texsom 2011 - Becky and Paul Greico

...and good night

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