It’s a new year. That idea hasn’t truly sunk in yet. The speed at which we are blowing through the months is scary, to say the least. A lot of my friends are making resolutions, and from what I’ve read over the last week, the general thoughts on the subject are quite negative. Not that the resolutions themselves are negative, just the attitudes of pessimism towards actually accomplishing them, are. Then it hit me. Why try to come up with something new or even outlandish to attempt? Why not dig deep, and take personal inventory to make sure I’m staying true to what is most important to me? Make corrections? Get back on track?

When my wife and I were just starting to get into wine, we had a really bad experience at a popular wine destination in Houston. We walked into a busy happy hour, ready to open the door to red wine for the first time. White wine was always safe for us, and yes, sweeter. We were newbies. But this day was different. We were maturing. Getting bored. We walked up to the counter with the look of ‘deer in the headlights’ in our eyes, I’m sure. We didn’t know what to order. The girl ringing people up basically said, “Can you go to the back of the line, until you figure out what you want?” We did, but we were floored. We wondered, “Is THIS being a wine snob?” On that day, we needed someone to take us by the hand, let us taste a few things, and try to get a sense of what we liked. Maybe someone gutsy enough to suggest a new region of the world to explore? We didn’t know, but but were open.

What we needed was a tour guide.

Thinking back on that day, it seems so clear now. In all my studies of the different areas of the world, all the different philosophies of growing the vine, all the different practices in the winery, I’ve become snobby. I joke and say, “I’m not a snob… I just know the difference”, but where is the heart and desire that was there at the beginning? I used to tell my friends “The reason I’m studying so much, is so that I can help people find what they really love. How will they trust me if I’m not approachable? If I’m not real?” As I bear my soul on this page, I can’t help but ask myself these same questions today.

So, below are a list of my core values. Even though I’m thinking of how they will shape my dealings pertaining to Vino & Vinyl, I hope that it will spill over into every area of my life, and make me a better person this year.

1. I’m a tour guide. The best tour guides are the ones that help you have the most fun. Sure they have a lot of knowledge on the places they take you, but they use that knowledge to give you the best possible experience.

2. Snobbery is forbidden. Every piece of writing, every conversation, and every interaction should be filled with grace, patience, and excitement, and seen through THAT lens. Everyone is at a different stage in life and in their own wine journey. How can I suggest something new and exciting, if people feel shamed or embarrassed?

3. I will never stop learning. Knowledge is wonderful when it comes to helping other people and becoming someone that is a trustworthy expert in their field. But knowledge becomes tainted when it is used to shame others or create an air of elitism. This is very rarely well received, and more often then not, just plain unattractive.