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Winery

Shady Lane Cellars, a Michigan Winery Discovered

Admitting that the less I knew about wine, the snobbier I was, is just my own personal experience… Not a judgment about what motivates others to act in amusing ways.

The more I learned, the more humble I became by the process. And this included a rigorous wine sales and marketing degree program that was akin to becoming a Master Sommelier on steroids. One can’t just come into a new industry and learn it in a fast forward way without living a demanding 70 hour week for many, many years. That’s enough to humble anybody.

When I moved to California, I knew very little about wine, other than knowing that it was White Zinfandel that finally got me to taste and enjoy wine. My palate’s progressed, but I still bow to the alter of White Zin. I needed something to get me past my Mateus days… with all due respect to Mateus.

So, when I returned to Maine on a sales call (2003) and spotted Bartlett Maine Estate Winery in a wine shop where I was working, I snickered to myself, “Ha, ha, ha… Blueberry wine!”

[Remember, this was the snobby-me-becoming-humble period of my wine life.]

The wine merchant assured me that the wine was really good. “Okay,” I thought… I’ll buy a bottle and see for myself.” I also decided to have a good laugh with a winemaker friend, so I put the bottle into a brown bag tasting with Cabs to see how it would do.

This was the humbling part… The winemaker loved the blueberry notes, and scored it as a Cabernet! My wine shop owner had told me that blueberry wine is very similar to Cab. I stopped laughing.

When I visited Hawaii, I again – you’d think I’d learned my lesson by now, but “No!” – laughingly wanted to visit and taste Tedeschi Vineyards’ pineapple wine, thinking how amusing this was going to be. Again, I was delighted to taste an off-dry wine that would complement any ham or poultry dish, and was a bit ashamed of myself for assuming that Hawaii couldn’t possibly have a delightful product.

Close mindedness is ignorance’s best friend, so live and learn became my mantra, and that was the end of my snobbery.

Recently, I met with Maureen Faber of Shady Lane Cellars, a Michigan winery. You know that the only laughing going on was enjoying her company. We met in San Francisco, and we talked about Shady Lane. There will be lots more to share, as I continue to move out of my California comfort zone, and into the world of Michigan’s Shady Lane Cellars wine.

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