May 18, 2010 / 2:45 PM / in 10 years

Wines, like patients, need tending and care

HOPLAND, California (Reuters Life!) - Wines are a lot like hospital patients — both need tending and care, according to Deanna Starr who has experience with both.

A waiter serves a glass of red wine from Spain during a tasting session at Vinexpo Asia-Pacific, the International Wine and Spirits Exhibition for the Asia-Pacific region, in Hong Kong May 28, 2008. REUTERS/Victor Fraile

Starr, 52, was a nurse for 20 years before she and her husband bought the Milano Family Winery in northern California.

“As a nurse you assess the patient. You do the exact same thing with the wines,” she explained.

Starr makes 17 different wines in a three-story, wooden building that once housed a hop kiln. Hopland, a town of about 800 people north of San Francisco, was named for the hops that once grew there and were used for brewing beer.

The Starrs, who had made frequent trips to northern California to stock their southern California cellar, were thinking of retiring when the opportunity to buy the winery came up.

“We moved up here with 80 cases of wine that we had bought from vintners up here in northern California — sort of a round trip for them,” she said.

Starr met her husband, Ted, while he was providing software for health clinics. Now, clients for his business software are several wineries in the region.

Both are proud of their California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) winery. Starr said all the chemistry and math she learned to become a nurse “has come in handy.”

She noted the similarities with wine and patients.

“You have a plan of care in that you want to know what will happen over a very long period of time and what steps you’re going to take to get from point A to point B. You’re watching for problems that could develop. You’re keeping problems from developing,” Starr explained.

Wine and patients are also both treated in a clean, sterile environment and their progress is followed meticulously.

“You keep copious notes on everything you do, so that if something didn’t work for one of the patients, then you will change it next time you work with the same kind of patient down the road,” she said.

“It’s the same with wine.”

Reporting by Leslie Gevirtz; editing by Patricia Reaney

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