A Vintage Sip of WineSpirit #99
(Re-edited, in memory of Art Finkelstein, 1942-2010)
How Do You Grow Blessings Through Special Blends?
Alan Steen, co-founder of Whitehall Lane, along with his brother, described how Art, early on, handed him a glass of wine to taste. It was awful. Then Art handed him another, which was no better. "These aren't ours?" Alan suggested hopefully. "They certainly are", was the response. Then Art combined the contents of the one glass with the other, and Alan tasted it; it was delicious!
What is fascinating about the anecdote is that it hints at, albeit without any negatives, how Whitehall Lane came into being and grew into one of Napa Valley's finest wineries. Two brothers, one much older than the other, left thriving and distinctly different careers (medicine and architecture) in Los Angeles to become farmers in Napa.
While many people who work in the world of wine left other careers to follow this particular pursuit, what makes Al and Art unusual is how it involved both their families making the move, with Al and Charlene arriving two years before Art and Bunnie. They moved into commune-like homes just behind the land they had acquired for what would become Whitehall Lane. In such close quarters they grew even closer, not just the adults, but also the children, as the older Steen kids took care of their much younger cousin Judd (after whom Judd’s Hill is named).
The beauty of it all was that the families built new lives together with each developing new and unique interests and expertise: Art made the wine, Alan built the distribution network, Charlene set up the business/accounting standards and Bunnie filled in all the gaps. Everyone involved looks back on the move from the bustle and pressure of urban living to the quieter, if more labor-intensive, world of grape growing with a sense of tremendous reward and satisfaction.
The way these families blended their life styles and the business they built revealed how people can generate spirituality's presence in the ways they work together, live together and share in the fulfillment of dreams together.
The story of the Steens and the Finkelsteins serves to remind us that whatever joy and satisfaction and reward we can find in our lives can be extended and enlarged when we connect with others: family, friends, associates or partners, who share values and dreams and take the time to build them with love and trust.
REFLECTION QUESTION FOR SIPPIN’:
- What unique blessing did Art Finkelstein bring into your life?