Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my father at a wine tasting dinner. Time with Dad is a priority. He’s good people, fun to talk with and insightful on so many topics. This particular wine tasting dinner was held at Cantoro’s in Livonia and featured the California winery, Waugh Cellars. Dad and I have been fans of Waugh Cellars for a few years now. So when we heard that Ryan Waugh would be in town for a winemaker dinner, we had to attend!
Now, Ryan weaves a great story around the wines that his family makes. As an aside, if you have not heard of Waugh Cellars, do not be too shocked. I believe their total number of cases produced in a year is around 3,000, if not less. However, if you happen to bump into Waugh Cellars wines while you are out to dinner or looking for a bottle to purchase and try later, try it or pick one up. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the wines they produce. Their focus on the quality of their wine is extraordinary.
One of the phrases that stuck out from the dinner was this idea that Waugh creates wines that “hug the palate.” Sounds awkward to think that a wine could “hug” your palate, but after experiencing their wines, I think you will agree that the phrase is not only apt, it describes their wines extremely well.
In discussing how they create their palate hugging wines, Ryan described the process of going out in the vineyard with a glass of last year’s wine in hand. For example, to make their chardonnay, he and his wife wander into the field with a glass of last year’s chardonnay and begin to taste the grapes still on the vine. This is one way they choose when to harvest the grapes; ensuring that the current grapes match last year’s wine.
Then there is the concept that they do not produce a lot of wine for the marketplace. Ryan and his wife, Crystal, understand that the quality of their wines, as long as it maintains consistency, will allow their wines to be in demand. Could they ramp up the total volume of their winemaking business? My guess is yes, but with scale comes more variability in the process.
Waugh Cellars revels in their hand crafted approach to making a quality wine. Not only is it a quality wine, but a quality that is consistent from vintage to vintage.
As the evening progressed, Ryan divulged the name and goal of their business plan. The Waugh Cellars business plan is called, “The Costanza,” after George Costanza in the sitcom, Seinfeld. You see, there is an episode of Seinfeld where George decides that to turn his life around, he needs to do the opposite of what his instincts may be in a given situation. Here’s a clip from that particular episode:
While Ryan clearly is not doing the opposite of his winemaking instincts, he is doing the opposite of what the winemaking industry has shown to be the “standard.” For example, their riesling wine has no additional sugars added to the process. The control the fermentation process to such a degree that they are able to work solely with the sugars already present in the grape. Industry standard procedure adds sugars to the process and allows the fermentation to proceed at a different pace.
Hand Crafted Real Estate
Well, hearing Ryan’s take on their process and approach to business made a few bells go off in my head. How Waugh Cellars crafts its wines is how I like to practice my real estate craft. Their focus is on the experience of the wine, knowing that wine frequently augments a dinner or time with family and friends. They want their wines to be a memorable part of the experience and not detract from the experience. They want to add to the experience.
In hand crafting the real estate experience for my clients, I want their experience to be as smooth and stress free as I can make the process. The real estate experience of many consumers is one of frustration, miscommunication, and mis-aligned priorities. Instead of crafting massive volumes of wine for sale to line their pocket books, Waugh focuses on quality and the wine experience. Working with my clients, I focus on crafting a real estate experience that meets their needs, adds value to the transaction, and exceeds expectations.
Focusing on my client’s needs, listening to them, showing care and concern for their well-being through the process is not just a good way to “build ‘ships,” it’s a great way to treat human beings. Which, after all, is what we are.