Cultivating strong talent takes time

Blackberries and the Internet make the line between home and work easy to blur. But vacations and work need a strong line drawn. While at play, collecting factoids and stories is about the only thing close to work I want to be doing. After finishing a long weekend in Paso Robles wine country, I can count the stories, but did not read a single email!Most of the stories are of great food, fabulous wine and amazing friends. But a little lesson given at Tablas Creek Vineyard about the soil and weather could be a great one to use when talking about developing people.

West of Paso Robles, about 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean on California’s Central Coast, you will find an area that mimics the French wine region of Rhône. The limestone clay soils are of the same geological origin and the Mediterranean climate of hot days and cool summer nights is ideal for grape growing.

As you explore this area, you cannot get through a winery without hearing a passionate vintner talk of the terroir, (pronounced Tear-WAH). It is a French term very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product.

This concept came to life as one grape grower grabbed a large chunk of limestone taken from the vineyard, poured water over the porous rock and shoved it in my face. He told me to breathe in and smell the minerals found in the soil. Then, he instructed me to let the next taste of wine coat my entire mouth. As I aerated the wine before swallowing, I could taste those minerals. I now understood what the French meant by terroir.

As I further explored this concept, it became clear it does not happen rapidly. It can take up to five years to get the newly planted vines in this area to bear fruit that can made into wine. After that, the vines continue to mature and produce better grapes as the roots break through the rocky soil as pictured above.

I share this so that you can put this into your collection of stories and factoids. It is a vivid metaphor that could be used to refer to the time, effort and influences required to grow the skills and talents of people on your team.

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