ADHD and winemaking – A perfect pairing?

Key Takeaways:

  • ADHD can provide a unique perspective for winemakers, allowing them to have a sixth sense for blending, vineyard selection, and predicting the next hot varietal.
  • ADHD can also present challenges for winemakers as it can make it difficult to manage time, fill out paperwork, and stick to the business side of things.
  • The shame and lack of self-trust associated with ADHD can make it hard for individuals to ask for help, but seeking support is essential for success in both winemaking and life in general.

ADHD is a different kind of brain wiring and chemistry that allows ADHDers to see the world differently than the majority. It has been around for hundreds of years, according to recorded history, but I am sure it has always been a part of the human condition. 

Running a business and having ADHD can be a challenging combination. The stereotypical ADHDer is scattered, hyperactive, and all over the place. And the stereotypical winemaker is a wine snob who won’t drink a pinot from a cabernet glass no matter what you say. 

Each can be true but neither is the full picture or even the norm.

Winemakers come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. Some are in it for the love of the grape and like an artist they want to express their love for their medium in varying and interesting ways. Others are scientists who are precise with every aspect of production from grape to glass and pride themselves on their precision. And others still, love wine and what it represents in the way of bringing people together over meals that are sublime and company that feeds your soul. And any combination thereof can make a winemaker.

So how does ADHD impact the winemaker’s life? 

They can have a sixth sense when it comes to blending or vineyard selection or what the next hot varietal will be. They get lucky, some would say. 

While luck can definitely play a part in the wine business; the sustained success comes from consistency, hard work and stick-to-itiveness and knowing the market before it gets here. Since you have to plan years in advance and the wine industry can seemingly spin on a dime (can anyone say Sideways and no f***** merlot?) it seems impossible to predict what will be the “in” wine by the time your bottles hit the shelves. Of course, great wine is always in but there can be tidal shifts that are unexpected. 

The gifted ADHDer may effortlessly create the nectar of the gods but ADHD can have its challenges too. 

It makes it difficult to manage your time or fill out the copious amount of forms for the feds. It can create friction when you are not on time for tastings or completely go off script and derail the flow of the sales call. The very thing that makes you great at winemaking can be the albatross as a business person.

If you have ADHD administration generally isn’t your strong suit. That’s ok! Just knowing that is a step in the right direction. I have met many winemakers who would be lost or out of business if not for their trusted and adept admin person. 

I think because the regulations are so rigid and extensive ADHDers actually have an easier time asking for help and getting support. The paperwork and reporting are too much for regular folks let alone those that see reporting as a form of torture.

Can ADHD winemakers take that lesson and use it in the rest of their life? 

Usually not. 

Because the regulations are so ridiculous it is ok to ask for help. But for simpler aspects they shouldn’t need help. It harkens back to school days where it was the simple things, like turning in homework, that they just needed to “try harder” or “focus more” in order to get it done. 

It takes a mountain, sometimes entire mountain ranges, of information before ADHDers can convince themselves it is ok to ask for help. When you look at the huge wine producers and see they have an entire department dedicated to only the federal reporting for this industry it is easy to acknowledge that support in that area is warranted. I would argue, that any area that is out of your expertise and or comfort zone warrants support, but for ADHD it seems like they should be able to figure it all out. 

The messaging that has conditioned so many of us throughout our school careers is a difficult voice to quiet. 

ADHDers have constantly heard that they are not living up to their potential and that others, not themselves, know how hard they are trying. This erodes self-trust and confidence and can create paralysis. 

It is the eroded self-trust that will really get you. You know you are smart, gifted in some respects even, but the simple tasks are daunting at best and completely shut you down at worst. Because of the lack of self-trust it is next to impossible to ask for help. You are certain that if you just try hard enough you can figure it out. This time will be different. 

While I applaud your optimism it still stands that somehow admitting the need for support is the worst possible sin.  I have seen it in many, many ADHDers.

Where does that come from? I am guessing it comes from the place where you have experienced shame because you can’t do the ‘simple’ tasks. It truly is the programing from school that haunts you as an adult.  And shame can be a sticky mess to deal with. Because you feel shame the last thing you want to do is talk about it and without talking about it you can’t get any support so you are left to muddle, flounder, stumble, and otherwise ungracefully trudge through tasks and life.

If any of this rings true I want you to know you are not alone. 

You are in some fantastic company, in fact. Most inventors and people who have shaped the world – think of personal computers, vaccinating the world, music that is lauded for 100s of years or a multitude of artists past and present – and we need you and the way you think.

You may dismiss that wine could possibly change the world but I beg to differ. Wine brings people together, it creates a non-partisan topic and a fantastic mood lift when shared at a large table with others. It is served at many international diplomatic dinners and it helps smooth out the edges of the heated debate.

Wine has survived the centuries and will for many more. It is the libation of many merry events and used to celebrate life moments and commemorate achievements. 

Wine is important and I thank you for your efforts and willingness to share the fruits of your labor.

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