Zen Breath 3-2-1

Note: You are receiving this email because you subscribed to my weekly 3-2-1 newsletter or you subscribed to the Koi Zen Cellars newsletter. Every Friday, I share 3 wine terms, 2 quotes from me, and 1 question for you to ponder. Occasionally, I also send out long-form articles on habits and self-improvement.

"The only stupid question is the one that was never asked. "
~ The Zen Winemaker ~

3 terms, 2 quotes, 1 question

January 28, 2022

Happy Friday! Time to wrap up this week and get ready for the next! Take a deep breath and kick off the weekend on a positive note. Let's consider where we have been, improve it, and move forward next week. Packing the most content into the least words and trying to change the world, one glass at a time.

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3 - Wine Terms - Barrel In A Bottle

A few years ago I was experimenting with adding oak to our 2017 Chardonnay but I wasn't sure what to direction to take it. One of my oak suppliers offers a "kit" that includes little pieces of oak staves in various toast levels. Following their instructions, you put each of the different toasted sticks into a bottle of wine, re-cork it and then come back in a week or two which I did.

Two weeks passed and I assembled a test group of people who like Chardonnay and asked their opinions - and boy did I get them. There were a total of 6 different wines from non-oaked through heavy oak. Some liked this, others liked that, some had strong preferences, while others had little. There were no clear winners, so I still had no directions but this experiment was the birth of an idea.

The idea became what is now known as Barrel in a Bottle . Instead of putting wine into a barrel, we put part of the barrel inside the bottle - and this is the topic of today. So lets talk about the process, the benefits, and the results.
  1. A typical oak barrel holds 300 bottles of wine and has enough oak flavor for 3-4 years of use. So, one barrel can oak roughly 1000 bottles of wine.An average barrel weights in at 100 pounds so each bottle requires about 1.6oz (45g) of oak. Using the Barrel in a Bottle ™  process we only use 0.0533oz (1.5g) which is 30x more efficient.
  2. This is profound considering one oak tree only produces 2-3 barrels and is typically over 80 years old. Using this process that same tree can produce the equivalent of 120 barrels (more usable wood can be harvested also)

    This turns an unsustainable process into a sustainable process.
  3. Typically wine that is aged in barrels and takes anywhere between months and years to extract the exact flavor. Using the Barrel in a Bottle™ process - it only takes a few weeks and we are able to produces unique flavor profiles based upon peoples tastes.This allows me as a winemaker to perform trials to find the exact mixture of oak type and toast level.

    Soon our 2018 Reserve Malbec will be released as part of the February 2022 Wine Club release and guess what? You got it, it has a stick in it (please don't eat the stick). We took the best 3 barrels of Malbec, added a stick using the Barrel in a Bottle™ process and then aged it an extra year in the bottle.

2 - Quotes from Me:

1. "You don't move forward if you follow your own steps." ~ The Zen Winemaker

2. "Sometimes ideas work, sometimes they don't, but you always learn something." ~ The Zen Winemaker

1 - Question to ponder:

Slowing Down - Doing More

Three weeks ago I started a Tai Chi class through Poway Adult school and am thoroughly enjoying it. I have always enjoyed watching the slow fluid motions, the clean lines, and grace - many of the skills I didn't have, so on a whim, I signed up for the class.

Each class we start with a short seated meditation focusing on the movement of the breathe. After a few minutes we move to deep breathing which is slow and focused. Next comes self massage of hands, wrists, knees, and thighs to warm up the joints. When joints are warm and relaxed they flex - hard and stiff things break.

Then comes slow stretching of neck, shoulders, spine, and arms through slow purposeful movement, holding and breathing into the stretches. In the quietness joints crack, snap and pop. 20 minutes have passed and the entire class is calm, relaxed, loose, and focused.

Next comes slow walking and when I say slow , very, very slow. Each step taking 10 or more seconds. Slowly a leg extends and then a heal touch. Slowly weight transfers from leg to leg - one becomes heavier while the other become lighter until only a toe tip hovers above the ground waiting for the slow swing forward.

It sounds easy, and while it is, it is amazing on how much concentration and focus it takes to move in slow motion. We take what is habitual in our subconscious and move it to the conscious mind. It also takes a great amount of balance - something that surprised me. One length of the room walking slowly, then the same with arms overhead, or stretched out shoulder level. Each different position shifts your center of gravity and you must compensate working each and every muscle. By now 40 minutes have passed and my body is relaxed but invigorated - I know I have worked muscles I didn't know I had.

We spend the last 20 minutes leaning the 8 Tai Chi Energies (currently on step 4) which is a combination of coordinated arm work and leg work. I am still not smooth and graceful - but it might come if I stick with it. If I give it enough time an patience I will arrive all by moving slow.

It's only the third of eight classes but I can already see huge progress - it's a slow process [pun intended] - but worthy.

Many people want to skip to the end and ignore the process. However, the things you learn by walking the slow path are what matters most. Because once you reach the destination (fast or slow), you will seek the next path or shiny object on the horizon (so enjoy the journey).

Realize that moving slow is not the same as being lazy - quite the opposite. Try walking across the room in slow motion to prove this to yourself. In fact, moving fast is often the signal of laziness or inefficiency. Think of the person who has 10,000 things on their plate and gets nothing done (many managers fall into this camp) , or the person who habitually rushes and does it wrong (often employees with deadlines)

I encourage you to begin the habit of moving slower - start with something small, say washing the dishes, or folding clothes. Take your time and be mindful and see how your perspective changes. See how the stress melts away, along with the worries, and problems.


Are you rushing through life, or enjoying the ride?
 Rushing Through Life
 Moving Too Fast
 Living to the Fullest
 Enjoying the Ride
 Don't Know Where I'm At
 Fell Asleep and Missed the Whole Thing

~~ Notice ~~

All the energy wasted worrying about things that never manifest.



Darius Miller - The Zen Winemaker

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Author of a #1 best seller:
'The Zen Winemaker - Follow Your Dreams & Overcome Your Fears'

Creator of:

'The Zen Wine Tasting Journal - Life is too short to drink bad wine, or to wear ugly underwear.'

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