Whenever I come across images of this statue figure which lives at the south end of Napa I smile because I know the name of it is, “The Grape Crusher”. My smile however is not one so much of local fondness but rather of eye rolling frustration. Why? It’s innacurate! This man is not in the process of crushing grapes. He is in fact operating a piece of equipment used at the next stage in a wine’s life. He is using a press. (An early version of one.) So why would this annoy me?

My annoyance comes from  many years of experience in my area of speciality in the wine industry, compliance and the all too often misunderstood or misrepresented image that it has. People just don’t “get it”. Whether that means not including courses or programs on it at universities or colleges, it not being included as a product category on the Unified Wine & Grape Symposiums list for their trade show, or simply the oh-so-limiting image of compliance just being about licenses, permits and dry reports that are a drudge to maintain.

Think about it, without compliance a winery (Or wine business of any type) doesn’t even get off the ground. And it doesn’t end there, that is only the beginning. All of those details that winery owners, winemakers, marketing managers, tasting room managers, cellar foreman, & CFO’s want to know about the wines such as their histories, blend details, costs, vineyard sources, and processing details (Just to name a few) come from / live in their day to day winemaking records. Translation: their compliance systems.

Unfortunately if they aren’t keeping the details that they really want to know in those records (Such as accurately tracking a pressing activity vs. a crushing activity) then the system breaks down and can become more of a drudge than a dynamic, data filled entity that provides a winery as a business with valuable information they utilize every day.

Compliance tells the story of a winery and the wines it so specifically creates. So getting those stories accurate is of value to everyone. Keep that in mind next time you’re sitting at the traffic signal on highway 29 and glance over at that large laboring figure.

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