Coupling Up in the Wine Industry—Lessons Learned


I wonder if the percentage of couples where both people work in the same industry is higher in Napa Valley than in other part of the country. I wonder this because my Kathy and I are such a couple and as I mentally survey our list of local friends and acquaintances, I note our condition afflicts many of them.

Today is the first anniversary of my marriage to my Kathy. Last year at this time I woke with an air of anticipation, knowing that in a few hours important vows would be exchanged in front of friends and family, public declarations of our commitment to one another would be expressed, our social status would be altered, the solemnity of our new bond would be reiterated and explored by the Rabbi, and I would stand in front of everyone and silently wonder how I got so lucky to have found Kathy while I simultaneously hoped and prayed she would not come to her senses.

The ceremony went off without a hitch and Kathy remained for all of it. We celebrated Kathy not coming to her sense wth a reception where food and wine were liberally dispensed. At that reception were numerous other Wine Industry Couples, a club Kathy and I had recently joined.

There are some very interesting things about being a Wine Industry Couple that I've noticed over the past 12 months. But the most prominent thing common to Wine Industry Couples (and likely common to couples who work in the same industry outside of wine) is the way in which your world becomes condensed.

You hear the same gossip, separately. You read the same news. You receive the same invitations to the same events. You work the same events, separately. You face similar occupational dilemmas. You develop a short-hand language for discussing daily happenings.

I cannot tell you how often either Kathy or I say  to one another, "Did you hear about xyz" and the other responds, "I did, Soandso told me." And the other responds, "Oh, I just saw SoandSo".

It all becomes quite normal after a while, this similarity of experience and people, places and events. But, having experienced conditions different from Kathy and mine, I've realized that being married to someone who works in the same industry results in something quite interesting too: You end up falling into discussions about things outside both your common daily experiences much more regularly.

You can only talk about what's similar and familiar for so long without coming to a conversational standstill. So, if you enjoy talking with your spouse, and I do, you end up moving to territory that is outside your daily experiience pretty quickly.

I've come to the conclusion that how often you talk to your spouse, what you share, how you talk about differences of opinion, how far afield from your normal experiences you are willing to go in talking to your spouse and how willing you are to sit and carefully listen as your spouse dig deeply into subject matter of interest to them, but not to you, will largely help determine how happy you and they remain.

This weekend, after quickly dispensing with a bit of wine industry gossip that Kathy and I had both been subjected to by different people, she sat patiently as I discussed the nuances of the 17th Hole at TPC Sawgrass and that particular hole's importance to the entire PGA Golf Tour. Kathy doesn't golf. She doesn't choose to watch golf. And yet there she sat, listening to me go on about the iconic nature of a single hole of golf and how fear can dictate what happens when a grown man swings a tool for the purpose of hitting a small white ball in a small hole. It was a spectacular display of love on her part.

I suspect Kathy and my approach to navigating the intricacies of working in the same industry aren't too different from the numerous other Wine Industry Couples that populate this Valley. However, I wonder how many of these spouses can sit so patiently and appear so interested while their mate prattles on about something that is so far outside their own interest. It's perfectly clear that I married up.



5 Responses

  1. Randy - May 14, 2012

    Just wait until she unleashes her hobbies on you, Tommy!

  2. Charlie Olken - May 14, 2012

    I’ve met your wife. Yes, you have married up. :-}
    Warmest and best,

  3. Andrea Wilson - May 14, 2012

    I haven’t met you or your wife, but what a delightful compliment to her! I only hope that my husband feels the same way. 🙂

  4. Kathy - May 14, 2012

    I must say I am a also a very lucky woman! Thank you my sweet husband for writing such a nice post… You are my dream come true!

  5. Marcia M - May 14, 2012

    Nicely done! …by you both!

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