When They Make Wine Out of You

A few years ago, I listened to a story about how grapes are grown. 

More specifically, two (2) different ways they're farmed before being made into wine:

Most grapes in the United States are grown under irrigated conditions. Farmers use drip systems to add water to the soil at the base of the vines. The roots suck up the provided water. The grapes grow to be large and plump.

In many other countries, grapes are grown without irrigation systems. This is called dry-farming. Roots fight to find water. The grapes grow to be considerably smaller, producing a smaller yield per acre.

Both types of grapes are used to make wine. Some experts claim that water-filled irrigated grapes require the addition of sugars to the wine during the fermentation process. These experts cite these artificially-plumped grapes lack the nutrients, integrity, or chemistry to make good wine by themselves. As such, they need something extra. 

These same experts claim that dry-farmed wines do not require additional sugars. The authenticity of dry-farmed grapes develop them into smaller, yet substantially a more nutrient-rich, flavorful, and balanced fruit. While smaller, these grapes are made into healthier, tastier, more natural wine.

sub-story is found in the alleged difference in structure and size of the roots of these two (2) types of vines: 

Irrigated vines are freely given moisture. As such, the roots do not need to grow much beyond three (3) or four (4) feet outward in diameter to find that water. They can afford to be lazy. 

Conversely, dry-farmed vines' roots must grow to seek out the moisture in the ground. Some measure dry-farmed root structures to be twenty (20) or thirty (30) feet in diameter. The fight for water develops the underground system considerably more advanced than when liberally given water

Are these tales true? Or are they one (1) side to internal industry competition? Is it just a marketing ploy for "naturally" grown fruit products? After reading up more on these differences, there are experts on both sides of the irrigated/dry-farmed debate. I'm not really sure where to find the truth. I'm only an expert at drinking wine. 

But these narratives surely roll into one (1) hell of an analogy for me.

It's got me thinking about human learning.

Are our formal schools and workplaces packaging up "learning" to be dripped onto students, to most quickly yield the plumpest fruit?...only to be found to be missing vital characteristics to be of use in the next phase?

What happens when the irrigation system is shut off?

What about those autodidacts who have, instead, taken it upon themselves to seek out fresh knowledge, ways of thinking, and experience without the silver spoon of irrigation? Have the self-taught better positioned themselves for that next step? For that next change? For that next challenge? To better adapt to conditions?

Then again, just because I've chosen to study on my own does not mean that I've developed into anything worthwhile in yield. Maybe I haven't found ground water. Maybe I've begun to shrivel up.

I only challenge you to ask yourself, as I've asked myself: Who is in a better position to tackle the unknown future?

She who has been given a nice, neat package...and as a result, has grow quickly and to great size?

Or she who has had to endure, as Dr Robert Bjork puts it, "desirable difficulties?"

What will happen when someone makes wine out of you?


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a criminal investigations & intelligence unit supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. With a passion for training, he studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on Twitter at @LouHayesJr or on LinkedInHe also maintains a LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model


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