You Don’t Make Great Wine Out of Average Fruit: What a Winemaker and Sommelier Taught Us About Practice

Here’s one thing we know for sure: Jason Williams knows wine. He’s a connoisseur, sommelier, and probably another big fancy word, too. As the General Manager of the celebrated Croix Estate and Venge Vineyards, Jason has spent more than 20 years figuring out how to create and sell wine that people love.

It’s funny, as I was doing my homework on Jason to prep for this post, I visited his vineyards’ websites ( and to learn more about the kind of wine he makes. And it turns out that he makes a wine called “Scout’s Honor” at Venge Vineyards, which is one of my favorite wines of all time. So Jason, if you’re reading this, I’m raising a glass to you from here in Indianapolis! Thanks for making a wine I love.

In all seriousness, Jason didn’t learn how to make wine overnight. To become the winemaker he is today, he spent years learning from others, researching different methods, establishing best practices in the cellar, trying new tactics, succeeding at some, failing at others, and growing along the way. He’s practiced and honed his skills throughout his career, and he is still practicing to this day.

Conner and Ben had the pleasure of interviewing him for this sixth episode of the Practice First podcast! The full episode is below. You can also listen on your favorite podcast app if that’s more your cup of tea… or in this case, more your glass of wine.

Here’s what you can expect to learn from Jason in this episode…

🍷 A crash course in the practice of winemaking—it is WAY more complicated than you might think!

🍾 How bringing a new bottle to market is all about continuous experimentation

🍇 Why daily practices are essential to long-term success (“dirty cellar, dirty wine!”) 

😋 How sommeliers hone their palettes through association to identify wine 

For most of us, our jobs don’t look like Jason’s, but that’s the beauty of chatting with the different guests we’ve had on the Practice First podcast: We get to learn from world-class “practicers” and experts at whatever they’re doing—be it basketball, storytelling, winemaking, or cooking—and apply the lessons they’ve learned to our jobs. There’s so much to gain from their insights on repetition, continuous experimentation, rehearsal, grit, and more, and Jason’s insights were no exception. I hope Jason and the other people we’ve had the pleasure of learning from inspire you to find an element of your job you’d like to get better at and take action.

Here’s to getting 1% better every day, and enjoying a glass or two of wine along the way! 

Oh, and P.S, if you learned something from Jason, have any questions about winemaking, or know someone who we should be talking to about practice, our hosts would love to hear from you! You can connect with them on social media (Conner Burt or Ben Battaglia) or shoot them an email at

Keep on practicing, everyone!


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