Let me present this gift to you as tribute to the opening of the Wizard Academy Tower. This nontraditional business school stands as a beacon to those who think differently, who hope for more, and who deliver. Today marks a significant milestone in the history of the academy and as such deserves outstanding recognition. Please note that this gift carries with it certain key characteristics which I found to be quite fitting. Let me share them with you.
First thing you notice about the wine is the size of the bottle. It is one of the largest sizes made. Inside of the bottle rests 9 liters of wine. That’s equivalent to an entire case of wine. So why not offer 12 bottles instead? Simply put, this bottle cannot be poured by one person. At 35lbs it would be impossible to pour without great waste. In fact, the sheer size suggests that it would only be opened for a large group. This is not couples’ night wine. It’s big gathering wine. It’s celebration wine, 60 glasses full. The Wizard Academy stands as a community, which pours knowledge from one inventive mind to the next. It is a community that gathers periodically to drink from the fountain and fill each other’s cup.
This bottle also towers over other bottles. It stands as a monument in comparison, an obelisk marking an event in which the impossible dream was proven not so impossible. Monuments mark vertical thinking unlike the more horizontal memorial structures. They both serve as reminders, though a monument hinges on a particular event. It marks the spot and focuses our attention to the surroundings. It happened here. It happened then. It invites the visitor to reflect on a occurrence that teaches. The Tower opening represents an accomplishment of vision, devotion and generosity by many.
Make no mistake. This wine will not last like stone or bronze. It is organic matter with a limited life even in the nurturing vacuum of the bottle. It beckons to be drunk even if we must wait a while. Nevertheless, accept it as a symbolic monument on today’s event.
The vintage is 2007 bottled in 2011. According to Corrine, the Tower was always in the plan even though the drawings did not emerge until 2007. In the later years, Matisse accepted a sizeable commission for a large collage. After one year of no word, patrons breathlessly arrived to demand their piece. Instead they found Matisse busy on another project. After they exhausted their frustration with sour words, he looked up with a blank expression, immediate cut and glued their collage. Infuriated, they shouted, “You waited an entire year then only took five minutes to assemble this! How could this be of any value, much less what we paid?” He corrected them, “It took a lifetime and five minutes.” So it is with this wine. And so it is with this academy.
Thank you Roy & Pennie for the lifetime and 11 years to cultivate this Tower and the Wizard Academy.
The wine maker’s name is Bryan Page, his vineyard is Page Winery though this particular label shows Revolver Wine Company. Bryan grew up in the kitchen blending flavors and plating art as a profession. A calling took him to Napa to create magic in a bottle. Bryan had a vision and a ridiculous plan to open a winery in the shadows of the great winemakers in Napa. He’s our kind of crazy. Look at label carefully. The image is sepia toned. It rings of the dream world where the right brain plays and stories unfold. The name of the wine is “Fury.” No doubt echoing the fevered moment when muscle and mass move quickly through space. This is a wine about action and purpose.
Bryan’s last name also strikes several chords. Pages are the device on which words fill up books. It is a narrative sliver, a mere but vital particle needed to complete the visceral article. For as pages fill up books and books fill up libraries, libraries protect the collective wisdom. No other place can one find sustained immortality than in a library. Voices worth hearing from long ago. And as metaphor suggests, the page lives as fragment to the whole. This bottle of wine will be gone as quickly as a turn of a page in the bigger timeline. Still it plays its part. And so does every aspect of this sacred place.
In the time of lords and kingdoms, the page served as the assistant to the knight. Usually a boy, his service was to outfit the knight with the weapon of choice on the field of battle. He remained faithful to his master and mission. He is Sancho Panza. He stands firmly planted, grimy, sticky and unwavering. A loyalist to the end. We still see pages on the fields of golf courses. We call them caddies. Their charter is the same. Why is this relevant to Tower? We each find ourselves on a quest and must recognize who helps us. The Wizard Academy call us to not only find a personal North Star, it also subtly invites us to give to each other. To enable others on their own journey. It’s built into the DNA of the Wizard Academy culture. Let this wine remind us of not of our accomplishments but our privilege to serve others.
Notice the top of the wine bottle with it’s vibrant red wax. Hot wax like this was stamped with a seal long ago as a means to ensure that the contents of a message were not compromised. It also signified the authenticity of a document or decree. Todays it reflects authenticity and protection of the contents for this bottle. When we leave courses at the Wizard Academy we are sealed in a similar fashion. Filled with insights, minds expanding, and then marked by the impression of the experience. The vision of the Tower burns in our memory. And we are handed a small pin as reminder in the journey ahead.
Vintners in Bordeaux blend Cabernet Franc with four other varietals to make their world famous wines. American producers have elected to pull out each of the wine styles to expose their own true character. We have Cabernet Franc in this big bottle. Cab Franc provides roundness to Bordeaux wines. It weights those wines with earthy goodness. Here Bryan Page singles out the wine to stand on its own merit, unadulterated. It’s distinct, muscular and unafraid. That’s the kind of bold ideas that are discussed at the Wizard Academy.
So the only question which may remain is “When do we uncork this monument?” I suggest we agree to meet again in 4 years to share this wine. That would be 2015. Four years of four seasons. Four, a number that represents completeness. It is the enduring number of the mandala and that of which Dr. Richard Grant so elegantly speaks. It is also coincident with the 15th anniversary of the Wizard Academy. And it is also the time when the wine will have matured to it’s fullest, most enjoyable age. Let us mark the calendar yet one more time.