I've been involved with TEXSOM from the sales side of the wine biz for the past 7 years. Sometimes I've thought of my role there much like a well-polished cover band hired to play at a successful IT company's holiday party: I'm an integral part of the experience, but I'm not "one of them." This view is almost entirely on me -- I've never worked as a sommelier, and I've never been interested in learning the service aspect of the business. Simply learning as much as possible about wine itself has been quite enough to stir my passions.

And so it was with much joy that I was able to do something this year that had eluded me the past several conferences -- I attended seminars! In recent years I had spent all my time and emotional energy on the execution of my Hospitality Suite and to meeting new people.

The younger and greener me also thought I should try every wine I saw late into the night. This year, though, I applied a different wisdom and determined to be more rested and present. I know I missed some amazing bottles, but I also had the least stressful and most satisfying TEXSOM in memory.

The Ensemble Beverages: Santa Lucia Highlands / Bliss Wine Imports / Vintage '59 Imports Hospitality Suite was glorious, by the way. Seeing a line form around Debra Lewis as she poured the phenomenal wines of Champagne Jacquesson and Domaine Joseph Voillot was a real kicker.

Alleah and Andrey whet the appetites of the eagerly inquisitive with great effect, too, at the Bliss Wine Imports table. (Where there any other suites pouring a Prosecco Col Fundo, natural wines from Chile and Tuscany, and a Vernaccia di Oristano DOC?)

The other room shined with highlights from the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, including the small production Matias and Daniel wines from Brack Mountain Wine Company. It was a gratifying 3 hours.

A few takeaways for me from TEXSOM 2016:

  • The conference itself gets smoother and smoother each year. Heartfelt thank you's to the TEXSOM team and the mass of humanity that are the volunteers.

  • I'm better at my job when I'm learning. I'm not one of those 'natural' sales people. I need to care and I love to learn. Stands to reason that I should take advantage of the pile of experts that congregate here.

  • Experiencing wine is a life-long marathon. I don't need to try everything everywhere; I won't remember anyway. The best wine moments come in small increments in meaningful contexts. At 46, it's ok to be a Zen Taster.

  • I'm a wine nerd, and that in and of itself makes me "one of them!"

  • I'm gonna volunteer next year.