Last week, I was horrified by the hellish images of flames ravaging California and checked the status updates of wine country Instagrammers like teenagers tracking their Insta likes. My heart sunk as they shared their worries and photos of the encroaching fire and smoke, and yet, in the midst of the fear and fire, there were posts of residents helping both neighbors and strangers. Struck by the generosity and neighborliness of Napa and Sonoma during the fires and how much I love Napa and Sonoma wine, all I could think was good wine is made by good people. And maybe we can take a lesson from wine country.

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Let stress make you better

Stressed vines make the most complex and enjoyable wines.

Let the difficult season in your life pare away what’s not working for you. You will be left with  your strengths and a concentration of the best parts of you.

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Embrace vintage

Year to year, the weather can be too dry, too wet, cold too late, or warm too soon, but the vineyards irrigate, prune, dry with fans, and pick the fruit earlier or later. They are trying to improve the growing conditions within their power, but know that there is only so much we can do with what is under our control.

Work like hell with what you’ve got and improve what you can, but at the end of the day, accept and celebrate that each year will have its own flavor.

Own it

Complex wines will not appeal to everyone, but those that appreciate the depth and complexity are crazy in love. Be genuine and full of nuances and you will find appreciation.

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Know the difference between bottle shock and corked wine

Give people a second chance, maybe they are in bottle shock and not showing their best side during a first meeting. The second time around, you discover their true selves and find a great friend. But also know when to send a bottle back. You can’t mitigate wine that has turned to vinegar or been corked, and you can’t fix crazy.

Be strong and kind

And sometimes, there are wildfires that scorch the earth with no warning and take everything away from you and all you can do is grab the hand that is reaching out to help you and begin again. And if you are witnessing someone else’s wildfire, lend your hand. The world would truly be a better place if we were all #sonomastrong #napastrong.

Some of us may be cult wines and some of us may be as popular as $5 Chard at a mom’s happy hour, but we should be loved for who we are. Be genuine, but no matter what—don’t be Apothic Red.

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