Software development requires a different perspective. Rather than seeing things the way they first appear, sometimes you have to keep digging until you understand the business on a deeper level. You have to immerse yourself in the transactional details of the business before you can understand the big picture. You have to resist the urge to jump in and start writing code and instead spend some time considering alternate solutions to whatever programming challenge you face.
When you think about it, programming is a lot like wine making. In both cases the details matter. Both disciplines require the support of a great team and the right tools. Success in either venture requires the right application of both science and art. But ultimately there are a million different ways to produce the desired outcome (great wine or great solutions) and it takes creativity and inspiration to choose that one particular path to success.
Our team got a deeper sense of our shared connection with winemaking by spending a day in the cellar. While software development can be exciting, it’s rarely life-threatening. But the same can’t be said for cleaning out fermentation tanks. First, there’s the challenge of getting inside the darn thing. You have to figure out how to gracefully enter and exit all while wearing a harness and rain gear. Once you’re safely inside (we decided to go head first), you have to worry about C02 pockets that can squeeze out your oxygen. After all of that, clearing out the grape remnants (nearly 10 bins full) was the easy part.
We developers have to solve the immediate programming need but need to be constantly aware of the impact on the overall business and the reliability of the accounting information.
We also tried our hand at sorting the grapes and got a sense of the myriad details that are part of producing every great bottle of wine. It takes a critical eye to sort the refuse from the quality grapes and it is exhausting work. We were pretty tired after just a few hours. Many of the others in the cellar that day had already put in two weeks of long days and nights but were anything but tired. You could sense the excitement they felt in watching a year’s worth of effort culminate in a bountiful harvest.
It is the same sense of pride and joy that we developers feel when we have found a way to eliminate wasted time and effort from a business process.
While we probably weren’t the most highly skilled cellar works that day, we certainly enjoyed the opportunity to see the wine business from a new perspective. After experiencing the cellar firsthand and getting a taste of the details a winemaker has to manage, we are even more motivated to provide solutions that simplify the business management part of his or her job.
We’ll get busy generating that code as soon as we figure out how to remove the wine stains from our jeans.