- On June 7, 2016
While on a tour of a small port producer in the Douro Valley in Portugal last week, Cesar the owner explained that all the vines we see are Portuguese native grapes (in this case we were looking at Touriga Nacional vines) grafted onto American root stock.
As a result of the Phylloxera outbreak in the late 19th century that decimated the entire European wine industry, the Portuguese, who pride themselves on at least 250 varieties of native grapes found nowhere else in the world, had to give up hope of rebuilding their wine industry with native stock. The only way to continue the product that defines them–Port wine—was to import American grapevine roots (which are largely resistant to phylloxera) and grafting their own native vines to the root stock.
It got me to thinking how often we try to hold onto to things that are just not working for us-maybe even poisoning us–and resist the learning and growth that may come from seemingly unusual sources. (In a more unusual attempt at overcoming the disease, grape growers in France buried a live toad under each vine in an attempt to draw out the “poison”.[1)
What can be replaced? What must be kept?
I’m sure it was a humbling experience to personal and national pride to rely on root stock imported from somewhere else.
The winegrowers in the Douro Valley knew they had to replace the diseased root stock if they would survive in their craft. With the right care, grapevines graft very well. The resulting integration of American root stock and Portuguese grape vines ensured the signature product that defines the Portuguese wine industry and is a source of national pride.
What must you keep and what do you need to cut out to stay true to your authentic life?
What must you keep and where can you draw from more resilient resources to strengthen your organization?
Photo credit: JMaliszewski, 2016, Portuguese grape vines grafted onto American root stock in the Douro Valley, Portugal