I am just back from an excursion into the Bordeaux wine region.
Bordeaux, France is seen by many sommeliers as the undisputed king of red wine. This region has been cultivating vines for more than 2,000 years and has perhaps the highest reputation for fine wines in the entire world.
There are 111,150 hectares under vine broken down into 65 appellations - easily it is one of the largest wine-producing regions in France. Some 60,000 jobs are connected to the nearly 7,000 vineyards working in the region.
So vital is wine to the area, even the BOD airport authorities planted vines between the terminal and the taxistand.
To better appreciate the area and see some of the vineyards up close, joining a small group tour was a must.
En route to the first chateau, the tour guide exalted the benefits of Bordeaux's terroir.
The French are notorious for over-indexing on terroir - for more on this - check out Judgement in Paris which explores the Paris Tasting of 1976 which is a landmark event that transformed the wine industry forever. At this legendary contest—a blind tasting—a panel of top French wine experts shocked the industry by choosing unknown California wines over France’s best.
Of course, any weekend winetaster who has visited even the most humble of wine regions has heard about terrior.
The idea that wine you are consuming is special and tasty all because the grapes were cultivated in terroir which is unique due to geography, from the soil composition of a region to the climate /the weather.
The tour guide added a third element to terroir - something I had never heard before.
He asked the group what the third element might be, I cheekily suggested marketing.
My answer drew some laughs from the other passengers in the minibus and even from the guide, but the correct response according to him was know-how.
That is the tradition, the knowledge, the special sauce that is only known by the vineyard and the winemaker.
The special know-how that cannot be read in books or learned in school. The know-how that can only be obtained by working in the fields, smelling the soil, tasting the grapes before harvest, working the barrels, passing down secrets, embracing apprenticeship, to proper marketing and selling of your product.
I loved this added terroir concept of know-how.
When working with clients, one of the foundations needed to benefit from successful communications, marketing, and branding is know-how.
That special essence that only you and your organization know how to produce on scale, repeatedly, and successfully enough for customers to keep you in business.
Know-how is seen but not fully understood.
When you stay at the Four Seasons, you know it is there.
When you exercise at Soul Cycle, you know it is there.
When you dine at Eleven Madison Park, you know it is there.
When you travel via Lufthansa Business Class, you know it is there.
Important for century-old vineyards, but also your communications, marketing, and branding efforts.
Sharing your know-how, embracing your know-how, celebrating your know-how is powerful.
How are you using your extraordinary know-how?
Marc A. Ross is a globalization strategist and communications advisor working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics. Ross specializes in helping global business leaders make better connections and better communications. He is the founder of Caracal Communications.