January 16, 2013

Posted by Anisya Fritz, Proprietor

Learning at Lynmar

A compact that we all share at Lynmar Estate is to get better at what we do all the time. This philosophy comes from Lynn who is a joyful learner and believes that there is no limit to excellence. His view is that a team that learns together thrives together.

To get better as a company, we have to get better as departments and functions as individuals. So, at the beginning of each year, in addition to setting goals for our company and for each of our subunits, we set goals for individual growth and for learning together.

We implement this approach in a number of ways: we have a book club for employees, intensive regular training on vineyards, wine, soil and stewardship, research trips to identify ‘best practices’ in our industry and others and guest speakers who expand our boundaries.

Last year, as a company, we read Setting the Table, by Danny Meyer and the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. Reading these books and talking about them expanded our organizational vocabulary and improved our communication – and we had fun!

I taught a course on Wine Business Entrepreneurship at Sonoma State University, and I learned just as much as my students did. In addition, I worked with Ray Johnson the Director of the Wine Business Institute and Bill Silver, the Dean of the Business School on a conference to identify the ‘wine industry professional’ of the future. With attendees from over 15 wine-producing countries spanning both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ worlds of wine, it became clear that ‘learning to get better’ was a critical skill that could make the difference between failing and succeeding in the wine industry.

Together, with an excellent trainer, we learned the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust (WSET) guidelines for evaluating and tasting wines, and now follow this very structured protocol every time we taste together. We also used Le Nez du Vin, a kit that captures 54 separate aromas in wine to train ourselves on identifying different elements that our sense of smell can perceive in wine.

In our garden, we experimented with different varieties of plants and vegetables. For example, we planted eight different varieties of potatoes and evaluated weekly the progress and productivity of each variety to identify the varieties that worked best with our wine, in our food and with our terroir.

Perhaps the greatest learning was in our vineyards. Lynn, Shane and Jason walked up and down each row of vines innumerable times with partners, vineyard consultants and each other, noting, observing, evaluating and amending – micro fertilization, micro irrigation – the devil is in the details.

It just goes to show that if after 30 years we can still learn so much, how much more there is to learn. To 2013 and another year of learning!
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