To Wine or Not to Wine……That’s My Question. Comments Welcome!

24 Sep


          It’s late September.  Even in sultry Houston, hints of coolness tease the senses – wispy fingers that graze the skin, then disappear.  The first day of Fall has come and gone.  Time passes, seasons change.  The world is constantly changing, but is the same true of us?  This morning, I realize that in many cases, the choice is mine.  I can embrace opportunity and chose to grow or I can run the treadmill of life, pouring my energy and very being into the illusion that I am in control of my destiny.  But ultimately, change is the one true constant.   And while it can be comforting to resist, when I listen to that timeless voice in my soul, I know I thrive when I allow old dead layers to be discarded so that fresh life can be revealed.  So I ask myself : is it time for me to shed  some leaves?  Or am I still in summer, nurturing a harvest yet to come?

            The last year has been exciting as I’ve nurtured new hopes and challenges.  As Jay and I phase into life in our almost empty nest, I’ve enjoyed assuming a more active role in our winery in Italy.  We’ve always used a “divide and conquer” strategy.  Jay has focused on business and management, while I’ve worked on my Italian and general wine knowledge.  I started my blog and became active on Twitter.  I’ve met so many fabulous “tweeps”, which has prompted conversations about methodology, industry practices, imports and exports and Italian culture.  I’ve developed a nexus of contacts and even, surprisingly, friends from across the globe.  Writing is part of my core, and food and wine are true passions.  My blog has helped me to reconnect with old friends and has facilitated connection with kindred minds.  At the end of my first year, it has been a rich and rewarding experience, one that draws me to deeper commitment.

            Another part of my most basic self is my love of learning.  I’m in my 7th year of Italian and have studied both in Italy and Houston.  For the past two years, I have joined four other ladies with a private tutor for a couple of hours each week.  I’m not yet fluent, but I can understand most of what is said to me, if the speaker doesn’t speak too quickly.  I can communicate my points effectively, though less eloquently than in English.  And with a little help from a dictionary, I can read most texts.  While my goal is true fluency, I’m content with my progress to date and hope, as I become able to spend more time in Italy, that my goal is within reach.

            My second learning goal of these last years has been to become “fluent” in wine.  Last October, I enrolled in the International Sommelier Guild’s Fundamentals of Wine I and II classes.  As I chronicled in my blog, the classes were amazing, and far more challenging than I had expected.  We spent seven hours each week in class, tasted, on average twelve wines, and studied most of the world’s wine producing regions in detail.  Since completing the introductory courses in January, I’ve spent an hour each morning reading  wine related blogs and news, starting  a tasting group, and using a more disciplined, analytic approach when opening a bottle to share with Jay most evenings.  This spring and summer, I also toured the Napa Valley (twice), the Okanagan Valley and the Chianti area, and spent time with our winemaker in Italy.

            All this time I’ve been eagerly awaiting the ISG Sommelier Diploma Program, which is scheduled to begin on October 1st.  The Diploma Program is an intense, 188 hour course, which dives deeper into the unique attributes and practices of the world’s wine producing regions and hones its students’ skills in blind tasting, cellar management and service technique.  I know it will be an exciting class – both a huge challenge and a tool to facilitate my wine mastery goals.

            I communicated with my ISG instructor late last week and received disappointing news.  There appears to be inadequate interest in Houston for ISG to offer the Diploma Program here this fall.  The situation could still change, but time is short.  For me, disappointment always triggers introspection.  I view roadblocks as opportunities to evaluate my path, to discern my purpose and either recommit, despite the hurdle, or affirmatively open myself to new possibilities.  I pray, seek guidance and choose to either fertilize the growing crop, shed my leaves in tune with a passing season, or sometimes, just to wait for direction yet unrevealed.

            Today, I’m in the midst of this process.  I’ve yet to sense any truth about my situation.  But I’m asking the questions, and prayerfully waiting.  Is further wine education a mere passion or a calling?  If it is a calling, is this class my next step?  Should I consider flying to Dallas every week for six months?  Or is God calling me to patience?  Are there other programs to consider, alternate routes to my education destination?

            In the big scheme of things, I’m aware these concerns are petty.  But I do believe that God is present, in the details,  in each and every one of our lives.  My job is to look for Him and follow His lead, in both the big and the small.  I also believe that He loves me and that my disappointment and uncertainty stir His divine heart.

            So, to any Wine Folks out there:  Any suggestions or alternatives to share?  I’d love to throw your ideas into my prayerful mix.

photo from



4 Responses to “To Wine or Not to Wine……That’s My Question. Comments Welcome!”

  1. Rachel Simeone September 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    You should absolutely fly to Dallas!!! I know just the person that you should stay with. If that isn’t a sign I don’t know what is 🙂

    • PamBarksdale September 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

      An offer? How wonderful……I’m just having a hard time reconciling the cost of 25 round-trip tickets and rental car fees……

      • Penny September 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

        I’d also like to be fluent in Italian. I can speak, a little. I listen to CD’s in my car but don’t have that strong core group you have.
        Through blogging I have come to know that food and wine are a lot more important to me than I ever realized. Enjoy your posts and tweets. Lots of good people on twitter yes!
        If you do come to Dallas, let me know.
        Best to you.Penny

      • PamBarksdale September 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

        Thanks so much Penny. If I travel to Dallas, I’ll look forward to talking with you! 🙂 Good luck with your Italian.

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