Gratitude for a great 2014

This is always a reflective time of year for me, for getting the books closed on another year with my little wine education business involves a hefty amount of going through paperwork, which means looking at lists of wines we’ve enjoyed and names of students that attended.

It’s a slow process, for there is a lot of pausing and thinking and smiling at the memory of great nights together. Great wine heightens the senses (too much of course does not), and I have so many fond memories of the past year.

Teaching wine classes represents a convergence of many things I hold important in my life: friends, learning, laughter, travel, wine (of course), and community.

In my early 20’s, back when I thought I was going to be a high school history teacher, I loved imagining ways to tell the stories of countries, leaders, economics, and changes to the political landscape. After I left the idea of high school history teaching behind, I focused on Geography. My drive was the day I could teach college students and kids in their Masters programs about the changing landscape of the world, the topography and boundaries, both real and imagined. I had a some great professors that pushed me in strong directions.

Then something fantastic happened. I was waiting tables at the California Cafe at the Mall of America. I needed to make more money, for my wife and I just bought a house and were about to have a child on top of full time classes at the University of Minnesota. The was only one way to make more money: to learn about wine and hopefully sell more of it to my tables. Over the course of the next few months of intense wine study (there were no classes back then, just some books, of which I bought them all) I felt the pull of the wine world and the coming together of my two college majors.

I felt I found a path through the woods of what to do with my life.

Obviously, it was the start of my future, even thought I didn’t recognize it then. I still remember the first Pinot Noir I bought and paid attention to: Rex Hill Willamette Valley 1990. The first Cabernet that I carefully looked at in the glass, swirled, smelled, and contemplated: Heitz Cellars 1991. The first Chardonnay to really hit me the right way: 1993 Saintsbury Reserve, offered to me by a customer of the California Cafe who bought a bottle for his dinner party. I didn’t know if it was okay for me to accept the offer of a taste, so I looked left and right for the manager (nowhere in sight) cupped the glass in my hand, hustled to the men’s room, and tasted it while hiding in a stall.

More on that story later, for now let’s focus on this past year.

Fast forward to 2014, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude toward those that supported the best year Twin Cities Wine Education has experienced, by far. By “best year” I’m not just talking numbers, I’m talking energy. There was momentum and building that happened this past year in a very serious way.

Every January I try to get out of town for a few days on a personal retreat to review the previous year and plan for the upcoming. My Twin Cities Wine notebook was full of what I felt at the time were lofty goals and rather unattainable levels, all of which were crushed and scaled further.

None of what I do would be possible without all of you. From the deepest spots of appreciation I say thank you.

So what’s up for 2015? I’ve got about three big projects, really side projects, that I want to build off from Twin Cities Wine. I can’t reveal them yet, but as the plans come together you’ll be the first to know. Of course lots of classes are coming up, with tons of great wines being popped and discussed. Add to that some great wine travel where you are invited, and I’ve got a great 2015 to look forward to.

Thanks again, everybody!

Jason