Opportunity, A Letter from the Editor

It’s no secret that Americans are fascinated with the idea of a ‘self-made-man’, someone who has pulled themselves up by their bootstraps out of the dredges and, through hard work and perseverance, has deposited themselves at the top of the social heap.  It’s an archetype which has been ingrained into the very fabric of our social understanding, and we eat it up.

 But it may not be as accurate as we think.

 Sure, hard work and intelligence can take a person far (that much goes without saying), but success is also dependent on a number of factors which we rarely acknowledge, including the opportunities available to a person (or organization) according to their circumstances.  A person rarely succeeds purely as a result of his or her own efforts.  Do you think Steve Jobs would have been as successful as he was had he not grown up surrounded by the electronic revolution that was occurring during his youth in California?  If he hadn’t met Steve Wozniak, do you think he would have gotten so far in life?  Probably not.  His intelligence would have gotten him far, I’m sure, but without the opportunity afforded him because of his particular circumstance, he most likely would not have enjoyed such enormous success.  In other words, success isn’t just dependent on grit and intelligence – there must also be opportunity.

 So what does this have to do with wine?

 Believe it or not, these are the formative years of Iowa’s native wine industry.  The wine industry in Iowa is young, to say the least, particularly when compared to the producers of the West coast and the Old World (Europe).  It has an incredible amount of growth potential.  Now is the time when producers and industry-members will set the trend for years to come.  Decisions made today will impact the future of the industry, for better or worse.

 I have always felt that the future of the Iowa wine industry depends on the level and quality of collaboration its members engage in.  By working in a cooperative manner, solid foundations can be formed upon which future generations can build an even more vibrant and profitable industry.  Through industry-wide efforts, development can occur at a much faster rate.

 In other words, by working cooperatively, industry members can create opportunities which will allow for innovation and growth.  Why wait for opportunities to arise tomorrow when we can work together to create them today?

 The alternative (which could be described as an ‘every-man-for-himself’ approach to business) can only deteriorate the growth the industry has enjoyed over its short lifespan.  It would erode trust, increase short-term solutions, sabotage practical solutions for long-term growth, and create a frenetic and disjointed industry.  That is not what we want at all.

Cooperation is the key.  It results in better opportunities, higher quality, and greater return.

 Luckily, there are a number of cooperative measures already taking place in the state which are creating incredible opportunities and impacting the industry in a favorable manner.  The Iowa Quality Wine Consortium’s certification program is one such cooperative measure.  The IQWC was established through a joint effort of the Iowa Wine Growers Association and the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute at Iowa State University.  Not only does the program offer a particular standard for the quality of Iowa wine, but it offers educational programs for industry members to further develop their skill set.

 The cooperative nature of this program allows wineries to benefit from the experience and knowledge of a wide range of industry-members, and offers them the invaluable opportunity to receive feedback and earn a mark of quality.  Other industry members can benefit from the opportunity to enhance their sensory analysis skills.  And, of course, this accumulated knowledge can be passed to the consumer, increasing brand awareness and market-share for the industry as a whole.

 You can see why I like this program.

 The truth of the matter is, we can achieve a higher level of success if we continue to work together to create the opportunities that drive growth.  When we do that, we all win.

 I encourage everybody to support cooperation throughout the Iowa wine industry.  It can come in numerous forms.  It can be as simple as encouraging the visitors of one winery to visit another close by.  It can be a bit more comprehensive, like directly supporting a program like the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute and the Iowa Quality Wine Consortium.

 Whatever you chose to do, remember that connection and collaboration will always lead to incredible opportunity.  And where there is opportunity, there is always success.


 Nick Thornburg

founder, Iowa Decanted


If you have a winery or vineyard, you deal with various chemicals.  Even though it may seem trivial or redundant, your operation should have a training program in place to teach all those who come in contact with these chemicals how to properly handle them.  Anyone who deals with chemicals should have read, and be able to follow labeled directions.  Review meetings are a must, and signed documents should be able to show that individuals understand these instructions and procedures.  They should be able to follow the use, disposal of or treatment to the chemical exposure.  They should always use proper personal protection gear such as gloves, masks, and aprons, just to mention a few.  If a problem should arise, the employer should be able to show that the employee was trained and understood the Material Safety Data Sheets.

Now, all employers who have employees who package, handle, transfer, or store chemicals are required to train their employees on new labels and Safety Data Sheets by December 1, 2013.

Changes have recently been made so that there is a Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).  The GHS has 87 standard statements for hazards, such as “extremely flammable hazard”.  It will also have 150 standard precautionary statements, such as “use in well ventilated area”.

These new Safety Data Sheets will have information of greatest concern to employees at the beginning of the document.  There will be 16 sections that will give a uniform format for all SDS that are in the same order.

Producers of chemicals will have a three year phase-in period to switch labels and change Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) to a standard 16 part Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

Employees are required to be trained so they will be aware of the new format for labels and safety data sheets since they will start to appear in the workplace.

Current labels and MSDS sheets will be in compliance until the producers change their labels and Safety Data Sheets.

Best practices dictate that Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS ) should be in a folder that is easily accessible to anyone involved with the chemicals.  It is a good idea to have two sets of MSDS, one in a work area and one in an office area.  If the one set is compromised by chemicals or not easily available then the office copy can be used to reference.  If a cell call comes in from the worksite of a problem then the office copy can be used for those important phone numbers.  A MSDS folder with colored tabs on the sections can save valuable time.

With the new Safety Data Sheets (SDS), all parts of each one have the information in the same order for easier access.

With training, proper safety equipment, and available MSDS and SDS, there is protection for both the operation and the employee. For more information go to www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom   or www.iowaworkforce.org/labor.

October – From the Editor

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind month for us here at Iowa Decanted.  We’ve had some great feedback, met some amazing people, and had our fair share of surprises.

Among the many surprises is the reach we’ve had on social media alone.  It was certainly a shock to see our Facebook page had garnered views from well over a thousand people.  That certainly exceeded our expectations.  Considering we had only put out one issue, you can imagine how astounded I was at hearing that news.

Iowa Decanted was established with the goal of connecting enthusiasts from around the state not only with invaluable resources and information, but also with one another.  We also hope to strengthen and support the Iowa wine industry by providing a platform of communication between producers and consumers, in a friendly environment of candor and transparency.

Our site will be in a state of constant evolution as we adapt and respond to the interests and needs of our readers.  I would encourage you to become involved; let us know what we’re doing right, or let us know what you’ like to see.  Make a comment on our site, find us on social media, or if you prefer, contact me directly at nick@iowadecanted.com.

In the coming months we’ll be implementing a number of exciting pursuits, and among them will be our ‘bottle-finding’ functionality.  When we review a wine, we’ll provide you with the locations where you can find that particular bottle if you feel like trying it.  It’s just one of the things we’re putting together to make your experience on our site all the better.

We’ll also be implementing our Generosity 1.0 support structure and starting up our own marketplace, where we’ll be offering item designed exclusively for us by Wild Canary Graphics & Design.

These are exciting times for all of us.  I’m glad you’re along for the journey.


Nick Thornburg
founder, Iowa Decanted

September – From the Editor

Well, September is here, and with the new month comes the very first issue of Iowa Decanted!  Needless to say, I’m absolutely thrilled about it’s release.  It’s been a wonderfully hectic couple of months leading up to this point, and though I’ve enjoyed every moment, it’s good to turn the page and move onto the next chapter.  And, like any good story worth reading, the next chapter will only get better.

You’ll notice as you navigate through our site that we’re doing things a bit different than the average online publication.  One of the things you’ll probably notice first is the fact that we are ad-free.  The next might be the fact that everything on the site is free and open to the public.  Our reasons for doing this are both aesthetic (nobody likes those pesky ads crowding website, right?) and ideological – and we believe that doing it this way will only make our readers’ experience that much better.  You might be wondering right about now how we’re going to manage to sustain this publication if we aren’t pursuing those traditional routes of income; time is money, after all, and it takes a lot of time to produce a monthly magazine.

‘Generosity 1.0’ is what we came up with.  It’s a philosophy which allows us to avoid any sticky ethical dilemmas and keeps us up and running.  How well and how long it’ll last depends on one thing… you.

Head on over to our Support page to get the full picture.

The wine industry of Iowa is in a state of rapid evolution, and we’re thrilled to be in the position to help.  Don’t be shy about navigating the site, and feel free to share the things you find with your friends, family, and colleagues.  And, of course, if you have anything you’d like to share with us don’t be afraid to contact me directly at nick@iowadecanted.com.  Our site is also in a state of evolution and feedback is always valued (albeit constructive feedback).

Before signing off, I’d like to express my utmost gratitude to my small team of collaborators and contributors.  Without them this wouldn’t have happened.  Thanks, team.


Nick Thornburg
founder, editor-in-chief