A dear friend of mine turned 65 Wednesday with 9,999 others who reach that milestone daily in
. He didn’t celebrate with a gold watch and there is no retirement party in his immediate future. He worked really hard all day at a job he loves and said there was no where else he would rather spend a birthday. His career has transformed since we met 22 years ago when we worked as medical sales representatives. Now he’s the owner of a successful boutique winery in the America Temecula Valley east of that bears his family name. San Diego
Twenty years ago, it was a dream. During a break at a sales meeting, he was reading about vintners in
that gave up their day jobs to follow their hearts into the wine business. “One day I would love to do something like that,” and sighed one of those sighs after you buy a lottery ticket when the jackpot is $200 million. One of these days. Ever the cheery, encouraging friend, I suggested he just go for it. “No, it’s just a dream of mine,” he replied and we were off to the next sales training workshop. Napa Valley
Years pass and things begin to fall into place without him seeing the big picture of what was happening. (It happens like that sometimes). My friend acquires some land to grow palm trees for sale on weekends as a side business to generate extra income. He and his family built a farmhouse on the property by hand. The commercial palm tree business was sizzling and sales of capital medical equipment was still booming in the 1990s.
Over time, as you know, work situations change and what we want out of our lives continually evolves too. Retiring about eight years ago, my friend stood at a professional crossroad. He just dedicated twenty-five years of his work life to one company. At 57 years old, finding a mid-career position in Corporate America providing fulfillment seemed unlikely, so he threw himself into volunteer work and earning a real estate license. Through those two endeavors, a lot of interesting (and helpful) people crossed his path. If you are in good health and have a passion, 57 years old seems too early to call it quits and live out our days watching reality television.
It helped that this friend also had an undergraduate degree in microbiology (read: mad scientist) and an MBA in Finance from a top notch business school (read: brilliant business mind). Of course, this true corporate fairy tale has a happy ending—or I never would have posted it.
Over time, the palm tree business’ season came & went. In the meantime, the
became known as a great place to grow wine grapes and wineries were moving in all around. “Amazingly” the right mentors, advisors and helpers showed up in his life and he listened, learned and most importantly acted. Now, Chapin Family Vineyards is not a dream; it is a reality. It is a blend of passion, science and the art of wine-making. Several years from the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon release in 2006 followed by a fruity Syrah, later a Zinfandel and Summit Meritage—the “dream” is being written about in Temecula Valley Southern California media, served in upscale restaurants and wine club members are buying by the case. One reviewer gave the vineyard perhaps the ultimate compliment calling it, “an undiscovered gem, on the edge of something big.”
No matter our age or circumstances, if we’ll nurture our passion and stay open to the possibilities; a world of opportunity can still open for you. So Happy Belated 65th Birthday, Steve! Lift a glass for me.