I recently wrote about Dan Gustafson of Gustafson Family Vineyards and Winery, in a fun, astrological way… This Full Moon in Capricorn Celebrates Prominence – Dan Gustafson is in the House. I wrote:

The Capricorn personality is geared towards that of leadership and achievement, they always want to climb the corporate ladder and be the best they can be. Capricorns have excellent sense of time and manage it very well, they are excellent organizers. Capricorns are very creative, not spontaneously creative but it is incorporated into their time management skills and their ideas for executing a plan. Capricorns make good, wise investments because they look at the long term and what will be the most beneficial down the road. (From: zodiac-signs-astrology.com)

Yesterday was the full moon in Capricorn, with the effects of the full moon continuing for the next couple of days. Life at this time centers around being responsible (this is why it’s traditionally tax time), being patient, ambitious and resourceful, and it’s about loyalty.

I went on to explain my thinking. Little did I know just how prominent Dan Gustafson truly is, at that time, on January 24. It’s only two months later, and – wow.

Opportunity of Circumstance

Last night I closed his book called Opportunity of Circumstance, and was so delighted that he had shared his autobiography with me. At the PS I Love You in Paso Robles event, Dan was one of the 10 vintner/winemakers presenting his wine. As soon as he arrived, he handed his new book to me. I was taken aback, because I didn’t know he was even writing his memoirs. With a couple of books already on my list of things to read, I knew it would take a while. Yet, I was very intrigued and committed. It then fell into the queue, “So, what’s Dan’s book all about,” as I began his journey.

His subtitle My Legacy Letter to Family, Friends and Mentors now makes perfect sense, because if it weren’t for family, friends, and mentors, I might never have met Dan Gustafson. I’m very happy that I have… He’s a very generous and kind person, who’s given so much to PS I Love You; including being on the board of directors for longer than I can easily recall, and the last two years has served as our president, enriching everyone’s life in the process.

Dan’s life began in Minnesota. He came to Sonoma County as an accomplished landscape architect and a developer of more than 2,000 residential units, with a rental housing portfolio valued at more than $100 million. His life was also very challenged by a very difficult father. As I read about his childhood, I could easily draw parallels with my own life… His dad was hooked on alcohol, mine was hooked on speed, with a solid chaser of WWII PTSD. We were both being raised so far from each other; however, our childhoods held the same dark clouds. We could either cave or move on. Dan moved on quicker than I did, both of us just happy to “get a move on,” when we did finally leave home. Dan tells about leaving home one night at the tender age of 17, when his father was in one of his rages…

Dan writes:

I had confronted my fears and, though radically naive, with only a candy bar and less than seven dollars in my pocket, I set out for a destination that I alone knew.”

That was a hitching tour from the Minneapolis area to Dallas Texas, and it had the scary elements of my own hitchhiking days. It was very relateable.

Dan shares that one common thread within the wine world, with anyone creating a new winery as I’ve witnessed it in the last quarter century… They come in with a well appointed  histories, lots of stars in their eyes for starting over, and they’re back on the bottom of the learning curve for this new adventure. Unlike most other doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs that I’ve met and worked for, Dan’s learning curve was not only steep, but he’s also the perfect resource for the rest of them, because his skills can outstrip any dentist (for instance) who also wants to be a winery owner.

If he began a new venture as a consultant for people wanting to build a winery in the toughest terrain possible, how to work with differing soils at varying altitude and types of soils, plus a positive can do attitude, Dan now has the “Flying Chair Elevator.” Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Dan’s got you covered, based on the hoops he’s had to endure, including Sonoma County’s rules and regulations. I would imagine much of the same is found in other locations where mountainous terrain exists.

His book is written in a very warm and somewhat tender voice. His studies in the divinity and world travel exploration make him well rounded, not the least bit bitter, and moments of some very dear poetry. It’s a book I could easily read again. Many people can relate to his book, for a cadre of reasons. I can, of course, because we’ve known each other for some time, but never in the course of that time, has so much personal information been shared… All of it falling into the category of “Who knew?”

I’m somewhat inspired to write my own legacy letter, but I’m still gathering data and writing for so many others. My wine blog may hold the secrets that my own family friends, and mentors might want to know. Who knows where the times goes, as the song states.

I’m just very delighted that Dan had the time to tell so many people what a great, positive impact that they’ve had on his continuing success. If you need a bit of inspiration, this book is definitely for you… for experiences versus self help exercises.

In typical Dan style, all net proceeds from the sale of the book are going to the Paradigm Foundation, a Minnesota-based 501 (c)(3) charity committed to reducing domestic violence.

Buy it, you’ll enjoy it and you’ll help this worthy cause that is the nightmare of so many children, who somehow manage to survive many of the things that Dan had to overcome. He’s awesome!

Opportunity of Circumstance is available for sales at the two Gustafson Family Vineyards and Winery tasting room locations. The cost is $24.00 and 100 percent of the net proceeds goes to help prevent domestic violence. All sales in Sonoma County are donated to Sonoma County programs.  Call the winery for more ordering details.

Healdsburg Tasting Room
34 North Street, Healdsburg | Open daily 12 – 7
Phone: 707.433.2371

Estate Tasting Room
Saturday 10:00 – 4:00 | Friday, Sunday & Monday 11:00 – 3:00 by appointment