I grew up in St. Helena, which is a small town in California’s Napa Valley. As a kid I was surrounded by good food, grapevines and wine — all of which inspired me to leave home early and eventually become a professional chef.
Concomitant with my life as a chef, I traveled, played drums in a few bands, wrote poetry and did a stint in the Navy (driving ships in and out of the Persian Gulf), each of which made me realize that I needed to obtain a college degree. So I went to school and ended up getting a PhD in science and then doing a fellowship at Harvard. After spending time as a scientist, doing research and publishing my scientific work, I ended up going into management consulting at a firm called McKinsey and Company. Why, you might ask, did I “leave” food and then science to go into the world of business? The challenge and probably the money — business consulting is a tough job filled with long days working to solve difficult problems that have a real impact on peoples’ lives. But you’re well compensated for your time and efforts, and we had lived as paupers for so many years… During my time consulting, I wrote short stories and published a few business related articles.
After seven years consulting, the travel and stress became tiresome. One day, my wife and I looked at each other and decided that it was time to get back to our grape-growing roots (pun intended) — you see my wife’s family grew grapes in Napa Valley and my family had planted wine grapes in Northern California as far back as the mid-1800s. We believed that we were destined to be in the wine industry. But I needed new skills if I was going to start a winery, so I took classes in both winemaking and sommelier training. By 2006 we felt ready and co-founded a winery “back home” with our friends. So far, our nearly eight year adventure making wine has been an awesome experience. My wife and I love living back in the country, and each of our kids (who have now gone off to college) were able to live and work in the vineyards for a portion of their lives. Of course I’ve continued to write, but now I primarily focus my efforts on short fiction and poetry.
To some my path seems completely strange, but, to me, it’s totally logical: Food, science, business, writing, each leading to my current life running a winery. Logical to me perhaps, but I can’t even remember the number of times I saw the look on my wife, kids and even our pets faces as they scratched their heads when I’d turn to them, out of the blue mostly, and announce some new epiphany (resulting in a new career path). I am profoundly grateful for their patience and unyielding support. Which reminds me…a constant thread in my life has been the goodness of those around me, providing me the strength to push on.
On these pages I hope to provide some color and entertainment for those interested or just curious.