The World Wide School of The Autodidact part 1

Hello, and welcome, my friend. This is the first post in a series on which is not, in fact, really related to wine at all. This is the more personal account of me, Adam Rosewarne, and my quest to change my life. Let me begin with a short introduction to me, and an explanation as to why I am writing this post. At the time of this accounting I am forty-two years old. I live in the quirky and quaint mountain town of Nelson, in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. My partner and I have been living here for over seven years, now. I am an avid outdoors-man and love nothing better than hiking the local hills and peaks, often alone, sometimes with a friend or two. In winter, when the snow gets deep, I still hike and climb and scramble up the slopes, but with snow-shoes or with ski-touring gear. I love to ski down, of course, but the hike provides as much enjoyment to me as the ride. Wandering through the woods, over trails or off trails, is where I find peace and tranquility. It is where I go to think and solve problems, and also what I do to escape thinking entirely and just be. I am also very much a gardener, and follow permacultural practices in a quest to transform my back yard into a forest garden, and to grow as much of our own food as possible for the ecological benefit as well as the economic one. On the more artistic side of the spectrum, I indulge in painting, poetry, pottery, guitar and singing, writing and most recently graphic design.These are just a few of my interests, which, truth be told, make up a small portion of the numerous hobbies that I try to keep up with. Essentially, I am a hobbyist. I have never in my life been truly bored. There is always something else that I want to do, to learn, to expand on, or a skill that I wish to continue to cultivate. I love to learn. I’m told that makes me a dork, and I embrace that entirely. I enjoy knowing things and am reasonably knowledgeable in general trivia. I love to read and usually have four books on the go at all times. I do not, however, enjoy a classroom setting. I am not interested in listening to the pontifications of another person, unless the topic is aligned with the interest of the moment. I simply have too many active pursuits to be cornered into one stream of thought, when I could be researching ten. This may come across as arrogant, but I do not feel that is true. It is more to do with being an independent thinker and feeling the need to be analytical of all information and maintain the freedom of thought which autodidactism allows. I have always found that the skills acquired through trying, failing, deducting, re-thinking and trying again, are the most rewarding; despite the tribulations of frustration and difficulty throughout the process. It is within this framework of self-teaching and wide ranging interests, that I stumbled into the great cavern of wine knowledge, and fell deep into it. It began for me, as it does for many other wine geeks, while working in a restaurant. I was born into the food and beverage industry, because my father was an esteemed chef and restaurateur. I worked in his kitchens all through my youth, and was cooking my own brand of french cuisine, based on years of attentive assistance to the master chef that is my father, by the age of twenty. At one point, when I was around the age of twenty-four, we each owned and ran a restaurant in the same city. They were both great in their own ways and rights, but we decided it would be prudent to sell the one and team up on the other. This created an excess in Chefs and a lack of a front of house manager, which initiated my move from kitchen to front of house. I was petrified of the notion of being a waiter, at first, but soon found that I excelled at service. My aforementioned penchant for acquiring knowledge, soon turned to the required task of learning the skills of mixology as well as focusing on all things wine: proper wine service, recommendations, choosing and purchasing, and food pairing. Having the background of flavour blending that the culinary arts require provided me with a foundation that would be the backbone of wine analysis for the rest of my life. It quickly became apparent that the wonderful world of wine was a bottomless gorge of available information. It is a topic that always has more to learn about, and the greater the depth of knowledge acquired, the more you realize there is to know. Fast forward through ten years of working in a series of interesting restaurants, learning about wine as I went, and I found myself employed at a winery in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia; arguably the best wine region in Canada. I credit much of my wine knowledge to that endeavor. Then it was on to Vancouver, where I worked in two high-end restaurants and had the privilege of being surrounded by great sommeliers and generally wine-knowledgeable waiters and bartenders. After the stint of city life wore thin, Melissa and I sought a more peaceful existence, and thus found our way to the more rural version of a city, in Nelson. The next chapter was set in a wine bar which began in service and soon became managerial. In this capacity, I was tasked once again to be the purchaser of wine, and so began seeking ever more information in the quest to find the best of every style of wine. I tasted a lot of wine. Every wine rep that visited the area brought samples in an attempt to sell me on their product. Through constant and consistent tasting, I developed a system which allowed a fair comparison of similar wines sampled at different times. This system evolved over years of use and became my most useful tool in choosing which wines to feature and which ones to disregard. One wine rep was impressed by my tasting ability and recommended me to the board of the Okanagan Wine Festival, to be a judge in the yearly best of varietal competition. They paid for my travel and accomodation expenses and brought me in as one of the sixteen judges that decide which wines are deemed worthy of a medal in each category. The first year as a judge was great, although after seven hours of sampling, it gets pretty tough to distinguish the good from the bad and the ugly. I assure you, this is not really a complaint, as the overall experience was fantastic. The next year, I was thrilled to be invited back, and we tasted even more wines in a single day. In this last year, I got the invitation, and was happy to see that the competition was to be divided into a two day event, (my taste buds sighed with relief), but of course it was canceled due to covid. Also in this year, I left the restaurant industry behind to embark on a new journey. I had already left the wine bar to manage the opening of another style of establishment. In February of 2020, I decided to escape the field that had been my expertise for so many years. I was stressed out through difficult hours that negatively effected my home life and the constant irritation typical of a new bar business. I left with barely a goodbye to the staff and team that we had built. It was a difficult time for me, and although I feel good about moving on to a new and different domain, I have several regrets about the way that I left. I even wrote a song about it, which you can check out here. { } What I did not want to leave behind, was the world of wine. After a short hiatus from the working world, to gather my thoughts and recover from past endeavors, I began planning a new chapter in my life. It would involve wine in some way, because I do love it so. I wanted also to learn a new set of skills, that could lead me to alternate opportunities and a different way of thriving. I thought back on the method of wine analysis and rating that had helped me so well to compare wines across time and write flavour and aroma profiles for menus. Here was a system that can be used for tracking wine for a person involved in a similar station to the ones I had been in. It was also a great method of conducting wine club meet ups and guiding the members to write similarly styled detailed wine descriptions. I used it for about a year doing exactly that. It could also help anyone interested, to practice seeking the components of a wine’s profile, and get better at rating and reviewing. I had several ideas on how to make this method available to people who might benefit from it. I decided that a book was the best option. I began writing pages that would benefit the reader on how to best use the method, which I subsequently named Rs. (Short for the Rosewarne Wine Review System). Then I set about figuring out how to get it printed, which lead me to Lulu. My next mission was design. I always want to do things myself, and since I was seeking an alternate skill-set, I decided to learn how to use the Affinity suite to design and publish the book. There was a steep learning curve from the start, but that is just up my alley, as I explained earlier in this article. My stipulations for the finished product were as follows. I want the book to not be too long or too heavy. It should be small enough to be easily carried on wine tours, which any burgeoning wine expert should indulge in as much as possible, and any traveler can appreciate. That way it can be used not only as a learning tool, but also for documenting wines tasted on a trip. So, I tried to keep the introduction and the instructions to under thirty pages. That, I must admit, was a difficult feat. As I mentioned earlier, there is an abundance of information relevant to wine tasting, and if I went too deep into many of the topics, like grape varieties or wine regions for example, then I would blast past that limit and write a set of encyclopedias that no taster would bring to Wine Club, let alone on a winery tour. I decided fifty pages of guided journal would be a great start and still keep the book light and portable. I can, once I get some books out there into the world, make another book which skips all of the introductions and has more journal pages. Stay tuned for that. The book design and publishing went fairly well, and after quietly releasing the book, I began the next giant set of learn-as-you-go skills involving the www. To be continued...

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