I sauntered down a row of lush green vines, my fingers inches away from the supple and juicy red grapes, begging to be picked. I could smell the earth, the leaves, the berries and the crisp breeze coming off of the lake. I wanted to close my eyes and let the feeling of the sun and the smell of the vineyard absorb into my core.
So I did.
The wine was still lingering in my veins and I knew, right then, I was where I needed to be.
Have you ever heard of wine school? Okay, that’s not what it’s actually called, but it’s SO much more fun to say I’m going to wine school than taking my Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) designations. Regardless of what you call it, that’s what I’m doing. I completed level 1 this February and, if all goes well, level 2 this coming spring.
But what can you do with wine school, Chelsey? Great question; I have no clue.
I get asked a lot, what I’ll do with a potential WSET Diploma under my belt. But my answer is short and vague. Not because I don’t have any options, but because the options are unlimited. I have no clue because the goal isn’t necessarily doing one specific thing (although, being a buyer for a company that will send me all over the world to get schmoozed by wineries so I tell said company to import their wine, doesn’t sound half bad…), the goal is education in something that I love; the goal is being in the industry. What that looks like is a side note, a detail, something that will weave its way into my life and not something I need to concentrate on.
This past weekend I was in the Niagara Region for one of my closest friend’s wedding, so naturally the rest of the trip was about wine. We stayed in Niagara Falls, with a view of the incredible Horseshoe Falls right from our room, (no wonder it’s a wonder), spent an amazing day with the bride, groom and 100 of their closest friends and family, did some touristy Falls stuff (Like the Hornblower night cruise) and, of course, visited as many wineries as possible.
It’s no secret that I like to drink wine. But it’s not just the wine that I like. From the terroir, the age of the vine and the direction they are planted, to the choice to hand-pick or machine process, to macerate or not, to age in oak or stainless steel and so much more, that is what gets my heart beating. Because I swear, when you know all of those things, you can taste each and every one of them.
I love opening a bottle I’ve had before and being brought back to the first time I drank it, the liquid wrapping it’s way around the inside of my mouth like a lingering hug from an old friend.
I love the excitement of trying something new, the anticipation brought on by the first smell and the surprise by the first sip.
I love the science experiment of pairing wine with food and how drastically different the wine can taste. Acids mellowing, tannins softening and fruit barreling forward, all from the introduction of a soft white cheese.
I love the romance of it from the love and care in the vineyard, to the special bottle opened on an important day.
I love it all. So wine school seemed like a no brainer. Unfortunately for me, my brain wouldn’t stay out of it and I was having major doubts about my direction. What am I actually going to do? I have NO experience other than wine stores and serving. Who’s going to hire me without a Bachelor’s in this, that or the other thing (believe it or not, sometimes wine school isn’t enough on it’s own). How am I going to afford it? Is it worth the sacrifice? Am I just being a silly little wine lover following a pipe dream? Would I even be good at it? So many questions and so much doubt. But as I stood amongst the vines at Konzelmann Estate Winery bathing in the glorious culture around me, as we moved from one winery to the next taking in red, white, and all the information, I knew that it is the industry for me. That’s where I want to be. So I decided to ignore the specifics and start with the how. Continue wine school and let each level bring to light new aspects of the world of wine and let each trip abroad bring a new level of excitement and clarity to how I am going to fit in.
There are hundreds of thousands of times in our lives where we make decisions that change our course. Sometimes it’s as simple as a left instead of a right, or a burger instead of a salad and sometimes it’s huge, like ending a relationship or changing careers. But I am a firm believer that even though we may not know how, each choice we make will have an effect on the life we are going to live in our future. It sounds daunting, that the shirt I pick or the route I take to work could make a huge impact on my life, but I am also a firm believer that it is never too late to correct those “bad” choices and that it’s never to late to take a step back and re-calibrate so you can focus on a direction you actually want to move in.
I am where I am because of the choices I have made in the circumstances I was given (which, when you break it way down are partially a result of some of the choices I have made long before I was even in the circumstance – how’s that for philosophical).
And I have the power to choose the direction I want to move forward in. Because I have to more forward, it’s how the world works, but it’s up to me to decide whether I want to actually go somewhere or not.
So, wine school it is, for now, anyway. Where it will take me, I couldn’t tell you. How far I’ll take it, not even the slightest idea. But I do know it’s worth it to find out.
As part of my wine education, I need to drink wine (pour me – see what I did there?). As a part of my wine and food practice, I need to cook food. With that in mind, I’m excited to introduce Que Syrah: a wine and food and friends and life segment, coming soon to The Chelsey Diaries, where I’ll give recipe and wine suggestions to pair with this crazy thing we call life. Because if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that life is batshit crazy, so what better way to counter it than celebrate your friends, your family, your love, or your incredible, sexy, wonderful, self with something delicious on your plate, and some vino in your glass.
Cheers, to the consequences of our choices, to you, to me, and most importantly, to Wine.
Whatever will be, will be.