I Hate Sameness and Just 10 Percent Better!

Abundance Accountability Respect


Story: This is from last Sunday’s NYT travel section: “The Prisoner Wine Company, a label that’s a favorite of wine collectors… Is expected to open a new winery in September in St. Helena. The San Francisco architect Matt Hollis designed the 40,000 square-foot contemporary building to have an industrial aesthetic, with high ceilings and a mix of metal and reclaimed woods in its construction. Besides a large tasting room, the building has an area called The Makery, which has five studios where local artisans from a variety of creative fields will serve three-month residencies and interact with guests. The initial batch of artisans includes a soap maker, jelly maker and ceramist. The idea is that you should come here and stay for a few hours,” she said. ‘We want to be a place where you spend time and make memories…’ The winery is free to visit, but tastings are by appointment and start at $40 a person…

Promontory, in Oakville, owned by Will Harlan, son of the famed winemaker Bill Harlan, is among the lot of these new wave of wineries, too. Its concrete, steel and glass building, designed by American architect Howard Backen, is perched on a hill overlooking Napa Valley.
Visitors, who must make an appointment, are greeted by a private host who will lead them through a tasting of one older and one current vintage. All tastings take place in small rooms scattered throughout the building, and Mr. Harlan said that guests are unlikely to see any other visitors during their time at Promontory.”

Key Point: The idea of going to a shuffle in/shuffle out wine tasting is getting very tired. And if you think bringing in a celebrity chef is going to be a differentiator, well, not anymore. Yes, you have to make great wine, deliver exceptional service, and perhaps have a fabulous kitchen. However, that’s table stakes. If you want people to be “wowed,” and come in droves, wineries are going to have to reinvent the entire experience. The examples above are hints of the experience revolution emerging.

This is the common theme for all business. Reinvent now, or die a slow, then very fast death. Why should anyone line up at your establishment? And if it’s the same, or slightly better than your competition, you will be just that: Mediocre. How many more plastic wine tasting menus, semi-interested people behind the counters barely tolerating explaining the vintage’s hint of cherry, boldness, and blah blah are you going to line up for?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Part of my retirement is giving myself the white space (or wine space, haha) to dramatically reinvent my offerings in the area of leadership and culture. I refuse to follow sameness. I also need to reinvent with meaningful value, and not to just be different.
  2. This edgy need to continuously define purpose, reinvent our personal and organization business model is invigorating! Unless plastic sameness is ok with you?

Excited to continuously reinvent in personal leadership,


P.S. Happy 4th birthday, granddaughter Emilia! You are indeed a perfect mermaid! Love, Gramps.

One Millennial View: It seems like only some established, classic restaurants, or maybe some dive bars flourish because they don’t change. Nostalgia is a business for few. I can’t think of one business or service I’ve continuously consumed that hasn’t dramatically evolved, changed, improved and shifted gears every few months. It’s true, it seems tasting rooms can lose their flavor faster than ever before.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis