2021, A Year of Reflection from Jess @ Farm to Glass Wine Tours
Well hey there! We meet again from the comfort of your computer screen, or perhaps your phone or tablet. Jess from two years ago was generally speaking a very optimistic person. I used to say something along the lines of, “In a perfect world …. (insert the unicorn expectation of how you think the world should be) and then go on lamenting about all the problems that are currently existing around us. Because you know, there's a long list out there, if you feel me.
Always being optimistic that everything will work out and things will get better, now seems to me, somewhat foolish. Perhaps this worked in a pre-pandemic world, but most definitely not these days as I creep into the nearing of my 2 scores of life, and reflect over the past couple of years. (The big 4-0 will be this June)
Remember when I said, “I can’t wait for 2020 to be done”. Then 2021 was like, “Hold my beer!”. (If you want a review, click here) Well, I can certainly tell you this… I am not, in the slightest, going to whisper or think that statement as we roll into 2022. Nope, no way, FUGGEDABOUTIT!
Farm to Glass Wine Tours was a dream in the fall of Oct 2020, with the intention of starting in summer of 2021. That seemed like the enough time to get my ducks in a row, right? In a perfect, unicorn world, this is what I had imagined:
Unicorn Optimistic 2021 Me:
- Ordered a Tesla X in Jan 2021 - expected delivery date April 2021.
- Go to school for Viticulture at Okanagan College Jan-Mar 2021.
- Have an official launch announcement near the end of April 2021… Covid-19 will be fine by then, right?!
- Have a soft launch of tours in May to be set to go full steam ahead for summer… connect with friends in the industry… get the word out.
- Have fun connecting great people to great wine in some amazing communities.
- Work my first harvest! Yay!
What 2021 really looked like:
- I still don’t have a Tesla - and that’s worth a story of its own another time (I hear it’s soon, though).
- The day before my full time viticulture program, I sprained both my knees on an epic ski jump and couldn’t walk for weeks.
- 2 weeks after my knee injury, my mom unexpectedly passed away, she lived in the US so seeing her was near impossible and heartbreaking.
- 3 weeks after that, we had to say goodbye to our 18-year-old cat, who I never brought to the winery…. Or did I? ;)
- Me, wanting to scrap this whole business idea at least a bazillion times, bursting into tears many times over the frustration of federal, provincial and municipal permits required and how long everything takes to obtain.
- Covid-19 is still a thing. Fine.
- Record-breaking heat waves and forest fires.
- Being recalled to my flight attendant job with a major Canadian airline, literally the same week I was supposed to start harvest, on top of being asked to do an 11-day private jet charter for the owner of Mission Hill winery… Because when it rains, it does indeed pour. (That’s also another story, for another day).
- Then the flooding… and lack of highway infrastructure.
- Then some more crying of frustration and sadness that this is what is happening and should I even be doing this.
- But often reminding myself of the conversations I had with my mom, the final week of her life, her telling me of how proud she was of me and my business idea.
- Then I remind myself that this is what I really want to do, that I feel like everything I’ve accomplished and done over the years is supposed to be smashed up into this passion project, Farm to Glass Wine Tours.
As I reflect over this bumpy year, I’d also like to share how grateful I am to have a great group of people, winemakers, farmers, somms, wine industry colleagues, friends and family that have been nothing but 100% supportive of my dream. I thank you now in writing, and I can’t wait to thank you in person when it is safe to do so.
After months of waiting, I’m grateful to have my federal national safety code, my provincial tour operator license and am just waiting for the arrival of the Tesla, so I can get my commercial insurance and municipal permits.
From the start, I’ve always wanted to do everything by the book: Permits, insurance, etc. only to realize that they most definitely do not make it easy (B.C. has some of the strictest transportation rules), and how long they take to acquire, then throw in a pandemic and that becomes even longer. I understand why people don't attempt on starting a tour business. That being said, I am stubborn just like my momma.
I’m grateful for an amazing 8-week digital marketing course this fall with Destination BC. If you are in tourism, I highly recommend this program. Great instructors, great networking, and I feel like I will have an even greater support network once I am ready to officially launch.
And I have my rock, Jeff. This year was one for the records for me, and he has been the biggest and greatest support from helping me walk, guiding me through grief and just listening to all my fears, and helping me turn fears into strengths. I love you so damn much.
Oh… and I can’t go without giving a shout-out to Nellie, our puppers who brings both Jeff and I so much joy. Nellie was my mom’s dog, and it just seemed like the right thing to bring the ‘lil nugget into our home. Best. Decision. Ever.
What will 2022 look like? Probably a combination of some hot garbage, sprinkled with sporadic grief (because if you know, you know) combined with a pure feeling of joy, with a little wiggle of happiness in my step when I can finally say that I am taking you on a wine adventure. Connecting you to winemakers and the land, with the right amount of bougie… and making a positive impact on local families and communities… because that’s what Farm to Glass Wine tours aims to be, and I sure can’t wait to show you.
To each and every one of you, you are awesome. Thank you. Thanks for reading…. Here’s to 2022 and accepting whatever it may be. And remember….
Jess Hopwood - Owner, Guide, Fun Person, Wine Lover with some wine education accolades including: WSET 3, French Wine Scholar with a Master in Champagne, Spanish and Italian Wine Scholar, Certificate in Viticulture, BC Wine Ambassador.
I probably should have posted this prior to ringing in the new year, but I'm going to be honest: The holidays season isn't my favorite time of year, and this year it sucked just a bit more then usual. That, combined with flying more hours as a flight attendant in two weeks then I have in the past two years has also knocked me on my butt. So thank you for your patience, ha! I'm impressed I'm only 8 days late! To everyone who also dealt with (insert any type of holiday blues here) these past weeks, just want to say congrats to you! We did it! Now let's make 2022 our .....
January 8th, 2022