Hello, and welcome to my blog! This blog will serve a few different functions over time. For now, allow me introduce myself. My name is Ray. Not too long ago, I was a finance guy. Well, financial advisor to be exact. And, before that, a real estate agent. Eventhough I was doing well in finance, something was missing for me. My wife and I were about 3 years into our marriage, and we had a daughter, Isabella Ilan on the way. Still something was missing.
Actually, there’s much more to the story. Rewind to about 2004 for a minute.
My wife and I were just boyfriend and girlfriend then. Things were much more simple. However, something that always came up was my lack of appreciation for wine. I’ll say it. I absolutly hated wine. Growing up, my parents didn’t drink in the house. For my wife, wine seemed to make a dinner much more complete. Well, to say we didn’t mesh on this would be a gross understatement.
This all changed later that year while we were in Venice, Italy. At roughly 11:59pm on New Year’s Eve, I proposed to my wife. Now, when I did this, I decided I would relax, let down my fortified walls of boredom and vanilla lifestyle. I would have fun! In Italy, wine is everywhere. No matter what you order to eat, you have some wine coming. So, I gave in. Gave a shot to wine, while in a way still holding onto the memories of nasty, insipid bulk wine. Somewhere on that trip, it hit me. This was different. Far different from the bulk wine I found at college parties and family get togethers, this was mind opening stuff. Sure, I’ll have another glass! The wines we had there added so much to the dining experience, I was completely drawn in.
When we came back home, I was hooked. Little did I know how far gone I was. Libraries, internet searches, podcasts…you name it, I searched for information on wine there. After researching and buying nice bottles here and there, and less than decent bottles from everywhere I was starting to really interested in what made certain wines great (to others mainly), while others were doomed to walk to dark and miserable halls of wine mediocrity. Which brought me to the history of vinification, which led me to French wine history, which led me to Bordeaux. Hmm, Bordeaux…sounds like the best…it even has a silent x…this must be the best. My wife agreed to letting me grab some of these sought after bottles if I actually tried them myself and enoyed them. She suggested a trip to a wine tasting. To my dismay, the only tasting I could find was a tasting at Wine Club in San Francisco. Cool! Bad news: The tasting was on Burgundy of all things. That’s right, tiny, obscure Burgundy. I read about that place, small production. Hard to get bottles, confusing names, wierd bottlings, etc. Figured I would try it anyhow.
Upon arriving there, my eyes searched the building. Wines everywhere, from everywhere, such an amazing assortment of wine that I had never tried before. My wife and I were ushered to the tasting area where we sampled village wines, 1er Crus, as well as Grand Crus. Holy $hi7! This is the real deal. I knew I was in trouble when the Chambertins and Meursaults were brought out. Such beauty in the glass, wonderfully pure aromas. Once I had these wines in my mouth, my entire life changed. I didn’t know it then. In fact, I might have just cursed under my breath to myself about how outrageously great these wines were.
To wrap it up, that day – wait, that moment changed the way that I looked at so many things in my life. My wife was so generous and caring to take an appreciation in my expanding interest to bring me to such a place. I experienced tremendous beauty, power and grace from a wine glass that people had handcrafted through skill, hard work and dedication, producing something so alive, something so bright, that I was in awe of something so well done that I couldn’t do myself.
From that day, my passion, interest (EDIT: obsession) has grown enormously. I have been very fortunate to meet many people that share my same interests. Generous, intelligent, funny, down to Earth people that have helped build my interest, take away fears of pretentious encounters, all the while allowing me to share in numerous wine dinners, offlines, and wine trips. Some of these friends have gone on to make their own wines, while have made wine for quite some time. Seeing their dedication and drive made it easy for me to see myself in their shoes. These experiences, along with all the knowledge that has been shared with me on sites like winodepot.com and erobertparker.com has pushed me in the direction that I have taken.
I mentioned it earlier in this post, but I have to say it again. Recently, I left finance. I walked from the potential of huge salaries, expensive dress codes, neckties, sissy matching socks and thankfully the people that I encountered in that industry. There is not a second that goes by that I look back and wish I was there, behind a desk again. There’s a good amount of uncertainty, sure. It just feels like the right place to be.
After posting on erobertparker.com, I was given an offer to work at Freeman Winery in Sebastopol, CA from Ed Kurtzman. I accepted and have been working my behind off ever since. Eric Buffington, the assisstant winemaker has been a huge help as well. The amount of skill and experience these two have is really humbling. The work? Well, I’m doing what I want to do – learning how to make quality wines. And, really, something has to be said about working with your hands. The visceral feeling of hard work, doing the thing that you love. Everyday, I learn something new. I can’t say that about many other things before working in a winery.
As I mentioned before, I will keep you updated on the latest. As for now, thank you for visiting.