Leadership Traits – 10 Lessons Learned from Winemaking

The purpose made wine & leaders

published by Arta Doci

I joined onto a family of grappa and winemakers, when I was 20 years old. Over the years we have enjoyed our own wine and the wines of many winemakers across the globe. Last year, I was introduced to the inspirational wine educator Kevin Zraly. It was refreshing to see that winemaking fundamentals have a global acceptance. So does leadership!

My leadership style comes from my personal journey of winemaking:

Lesson 1: The tastes, aromas, and flavors of wine come from grapes, fermentation, maturation and aging

Design the structures and characteristics of the organization to achieve the overall vision and mission.

Lesson 2: Grapes require specific growing conditions , including number of days of sunlight, the angle of the sun, the average temperature, soil, rainfall, drainage, slope of the land, etc.

Create the cultural synergy that makes teams productive. Provide teams with the skills and authority they need to be successful.

Help me grow and flourish, and I’ll help the company grow and flourish – The Alliance (book)

Lesson 3: Wine is not made from the same kind of grape and grapes have different flavors

Embrace diversity and nourish it to be the source of innovation and creativity.

People with different lifestyles and different backgrounds challenge each other more. Diversity creates dissent, and you need that. Without it, you’re not going to get any deep inquiry or breakthroughs – Paul Block

Lesson 4: Aromas in wine come from the aromas of nearby plants

Build strong cross-functional teams with focus on the whole product solution, e.g., technology, marketing, sales, operations, and globalization.

Lesson 5: Grapes are harvested when they reach the proper sugar/acid ratio for the style of wine the vinter wants to produce

Once we have defined our goals, celebrate victories. Celebrate project results and accomplishments with your team.

Lesson 6: Weather impacts quality and quantity of the wine

Leadership is affected by external factors, including economic and political factors, regulatory bodies, disrupting technologies, etc. Be responsive to external factors and plan for them.

Lesson 7: Plan for adverse weather

For example,

Cause Risk Effect Mitigation
Adverse Weather Frost Reduced Yield Wind Machines; Sprinkler

Be proactive! Address potential obstacles that might hinder project success or block the team for achieving project goals.

Lesson 8: The fermentation process begins when the grapes are crushed and ends when sugar is converted to alcohol

It is important to define project lifecycle and understand the sequence of phases through which the project will evolve. Project lifecycle will help to define decision points, activities, monitoring and controlling points.

Lesson 9: There are no standards of taste in wine

There are no standards of taste in wine… Each man’s own taste is the standard, and a majority vote cannot decide for him or in any slightest degree affect the supremacy of his own standard -Mark Twain

Every leader has his personal change signature. It develops slowly based on experience and skills. It represents who we are as leaders.

Lesson 10: Wine Quality has improved significantly over the last four decades, including less filtering, oak is used less, sustainability, screw caps, etc.

Grow: Create & Innovate


Windows on the World. Complete Wine Course: 25th Anniversary Edition – Kevin Zraly

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