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In Venture Veritas: True Stories of Inventing Technologies and Making Great Wine | LSI USA '24

Gabriel Jones, Josh Makower, and Cameron Myhrvold discussed the parallels between tech innovation and winemaking. They shared stories of creative problem-solving, the importance of adaptability, and much more.
Speakers
Josh Makower
Josh Makower
, Stanford Biodesign
Gabriel Jones
Gabriel Jones
, Proprio
Cameron Myhrvold
Cameron Myhrvold
, Ignition Partners

Gabe Jones  0:00  
Scott, thanks a lot, Henry. Just want to say congratulations to Scott and the LSI team, another very well run event. So congrats. Well done. We're going to toast several times, so we'll save a little in reserve here. Okay, so this is going to be a lot of fun, as Henry alluded to, we were looking for creative ways to find intersections between tech, invention, med, tech. And I thought, Who better to do that with than the two of you? I see that you're not waiting for me to ask you to describe the wine you're just diving in. Which is good. That's appropriate. That's right. That's right. So I did discover that, you know, we have many things in common, coming from you and I both working for Bill Gates at very different times in the journey. Can your crew of eight people at your software engineering firm in 1985 86 was acquired into Microsoft. That's right. We would love to tell some stories Josh also about invention, medtech development, and your connection to wine as well. Maybe cam. You could start us off with, what are we drinking? And how did this come into being, and where is it from in the world?

Cameron Myhrvold  1:09  
Okay, I'll start with the white wine. This is our flagship white wine. It is called La tamique, and it's called La tamik, which I think is not really a French word, because it looks directly at Hanford, which is the Superfund site that, of course, is where they they enriched the plutonium for the bombs and then in World War Two. So this is a blend of five different white Rhone varieties, vionet, Roussanne, Marsan claret and Grenache Blanc, and they're all co fermented. So rather than vinifying the grapes separately and then blending later, we kind of okay, we're going to throw it all in the same VAT. There's no subtracting the wines. Once you do that and and it's called co fermentation. We love it because I think it really integrates the flavors and, and I think it's a beautiful nose on the wine. You'll see it's slightly cloudy because we do not filter it or find it. And, in fact, we make it like a red wine, so it remains on the skins through fermentation. So this got about three and a half weeks of skin contact versus a traditional white wine these days, which is zero days of skin contact. It gives some more richness, it gives some more structure. This is a wine that will age, and we like it very much, and it's it's pretty unique. I think

Gabe Jones  2:39  
there's a thank you for that. I think there's a an interesting corollary with venture and trying to find sort of white spaces in the market to develop products there, but also the selection of that particular plot of land on Red Mountain in eastern Washington. Could you say a little bit about why you went there? Yes,

Cameron Myhrvold  2:55  
I bought the property in 2004 and I bought it without electricity, without water ripes and without legal access to the property. Other than that, it was awesome, but over time, we solved those, and the most critical piece of the puzzle was water ripes. We solved that. We planted the vineyard in 2016 we had our first harvest in 2018 and we still are mainly a vineyard. So we sell most of our grapes, but we do hold some back for our own fledgling wine project, and that's what you're tasting here today. And

Gabe Jones  3:33  
I can say, knowing some winemakers, I don't have quite the network you do in the space. We've got some mutual friends like Travis Allen from Kobayashi. If you get a chance to have Kobayashi wine at any point, I think very soon, you're going to hear quite a bit about a lot of his labels. He's quite an innovative guy and winemaker, and his journey actually is parallel to ours. And founding proprio about eight, nine years ago, is when Travis was considering starting a wine label. And he actually has quite a bit of connection to the med tech space. He works with my co founder, who's a pediatric brain surgeon at Seattle Children's. They are literally in the or together. So there's more dimensions to the intersections between winemaking and brain surgery than you might have thought. So there's the segue for you, Josh. How the heck did you get into the wine space and invention and what's core event? And tell us that story.

Josh Makower  4:21  
Well, so Stanford Biodesign. But first of all, I want to thank everybody who's here. You guys are the diehards. I cannot believe how many people are here. I thought we would just be by ourselves. Honestly, Which one have been that bad? Or maybe you thought they were going to be passing outline, and you're disappointed right now, but no thanks. I see a lot of friends, you know, way back, back going into the late 80s, I started experimenting with the methodology for innovation, and that ultimately became. In the Stanford Biodesign process. But back then, we were doing it inside of Pfizer, which had a medical device vision, a $2 billion medical device business back then, that's how old that is and and one of the guys that I hired to come work with me is a really creative guy called Greg Lambrecht. So Greg, you know, was actually my really only full time hire into what we called the Strategic Innovation Group. And we were executing on serially the biodesign process. But back then, we called it fresh Tech with a PF for Pfizer. Nice, yeah, I should be in marketing. I missed my calling. It's really too bad. And anyway, you know, we've been friends our entire careers, but work together there. And a few years later, Greg shows up and he's got an empty bottle, and he says, I've been drinking out of this empty bottle for the last, you know, year, and every glass has been great. And he's like, you know, how did I, you know,

Gabe Jones  6:09  
has he lost his mind? And

Josh Makower  6:10  
I'm like, I'm looking for the whole, you know, I'm looking around. And he said, you know, we, he applied the process that we, you know, that we created to wine, and his wife was pregnant, and he want, he wanted to have good wine, but when he but his wife was going to share with him, so he didn't want to ruin the bottle, so he went through an experiment with all the existing preservation modalities. None of them work as you all know. They really I mean, if anything, you get a few days out and and, you know, the the the need statement, so to speak, was, you know, a way to remove a glass of wine without exposing the wine that's in the bottle to air, you know, and if we were doing it in proper methodology, there's supposed to be a population. This is thirsty people. Is the population as who we were trying to who were trying to dress and and he experimented with a couple of different, you know, gasses, and had figured out that argon, if you put the argon in, it, can push the wine out. And after a few explosions, realized it needed to be regulated. Anyway, he gave me one as a present, and it changed my life. I'm like, I'm a wine lover, but this may I totally change how I buy, like, I used to buy wine that that I would intend to throw out because I was going to just have a glass or two, and then we drink, you know, you throw out the remainder. That meant that you had the wine the week, the wine that you drink during the week that you're going to ready to throw out, which wasn't that great, and then maybe the one on the weekend that you'd be like, Okay, we'll finish the bottle. But it changes. So I suddenly realized I'm not buying any of those wines that I don't intend to drink every drop from. And I started to realize, oh my god, we gotta make this as a product. It changed behavior. So I said, Greg, this is a great toy, but, man, we gotta make a company out of this. And, and so we, we teamed up and started Coravin and and when you know, we work with IDEO to take the contraption that he had come up with in his basement and turned into a commercial, a consumer product. And it's been a really, mostly fun ride. For most ventures, mostly fun, right? Like, all, like, every, every, I know we're going to talk about this, but like, even, like, the analogs to starting a winery, as very much like any startup, you know, you have these dreams, and everyone's excited in the beginning, and then reality sets in, and your goal is to make people happy or improve their quality of life, you know. And that's what you're really shooting for in the end. But you know, along the way, there's lots of challenges, but you know, in the end, hopefully your success, if you can look back and say you did something good and people are in, people's lives are better. So that's right, a lot of analogies.

Gabe Jones  9:00  
What do they say? Cam, a good way to end up with a million dollars is to start with 10 winery Exactly. That's right. Exactly, that is what they say. That's right.

Josh Makower  9:10  
Except in medtech theory, it's always up, always up and to the right. 

Gabe Jones  9:14  
Yes, that's right. Okay. Cam, should we move to the second wine and another story? What do you think you bet?

Cameron Myhrvold  9:20  
Okay, so the second wine is a Grenache, which is the primary variety of Chateau pap in France, and it is little planted in the US of red grape vines in Washington state, it's less than 1% yet it was 40% of our initial plantings because we made a big bet on Grenache. Grenache likes heat. Grenache likes wind. We're at the top of a mountain. It's windier than all get out. But the Grenache has done super well. And so that's the second one. Cheers, cheers, cheers.

Josh Makower  9:58  
Mr Dan. Yeah, sounds like being in the med tech company on the top of a mountain with all the wind coming at you and rain. It's very similar.

Gabe Jones  10:07  
So we'll come back to that in a second. So cam, is there any early days Microsoft story that is safe to share here, knowing that you could save some of these stories that better not be recorded and played elsewhere for maybe dinner after this, it's been a long time.

Cameron Myhrvold  10:27  
Well, yeah, sure, you know we, I dropped out of college, my brother dropped out of graduate school or postdoc, actually, and we started a software company in Berkeley, California. And in 1984 and Microsoft bought the company in 1986 you know, we were entirely bootstrapped. I was 23 years old. He was 25 years old. You know, we'd have to have this joke. We'd go to meet with venture capitalists and say, Well, how much management experience do you have? And we'd say, well, let's see, what time is it? 

Gabe Jones  11:02  
Which was true, but didn't go over so you didn't raise any money. Is that what you're saying? 

Cameron Myhrvold  11:10  
No, well, we ate a lot of hot dogs, a lot of top ramen. We all lived in a single house, which my ex boss owned, and let us, let us use and then, you know, going to Microsoft, where we were, you know, I was approximately employee 1500 that, to me, was like, Oh, my God, huge company. We'll be able to kick back here for a few years, and then we'll go start another company when, you know, we're relaxed. And of course, what we discovered was the the culture of the company was identical to our startup. It was super intense. They gave people, you know, lots of leeway. You know, you want to jump in the deep end. God bless you. I don't know, there's always the support if you couldn't make that, but it was, it was an incredible ride. It was great. 

Gabe Jones  12:05  
Was this the era when, supposedly Bill was checking license plates in the parking lot.

Cameron Myhrvold  12:10  
That would be more of a Steve Ballmer thing to do now, and there used to be a dinner every month at Bill Gates house for new hires. And back then, you could actually do that. And Steve Ballmer would walk in, and he would look at whose name tag was not taken.

Gabe Jones  12:27  
So if you didn't show up, you might as well not show up the next day at work. 

Well, I don't think it was that harsh, but I'm sure he noticed this one bill was doing the jumping over the chairs, thing that we've all seen on the internet, jumping out of the trash can. I think it is. I never actually saw that, so presumably that did actually happen.

Okay, so Josh, yes, I'm sure you have some early stage venture, crazy stories that are both safe for recording and not safe for recording. So say from some for dinner. What can you share about, as you said, the top of the mountain, the windy, you know, peak and the peaks and valleys, sure, founding and growing these companies,

Josh Makower  13:06  
I would say every company, perhaps multiple times over, their existence goes through existential crises, moments where the future is very uncertain and You have to figure out how to get, get out of the hole that you have found yourself in having flashbacks as you bring us up. Yeah, yes, exactly.

Cameron Myhrvold  13:31  
I mean, there are so many, it's hard to pick one. I wish there was less, but I let's see. I mean, you know, we go down many paths. I think one story that you know does, hasn't been told that broadly, is, you know, how we navigated reimbursement for a Clarence, where we basically had the professional site society, and some of the leaders really not in favor of our technology, and many of the community doctors and and most of the you know, sort of everyday ENT practitioners were were in favor because it allowed them to do Something that they had never been able to do before, which is treat part of the anatomy that's usually exceptionally difficult and dangerous, actually quite easily and fast and with even, I would say, better results than you could do with traditional instrumentation, which really flopped, flip flopped, the power, you know, sort of angle. So if you were in an academic institution and your your pride and joy was this very difficult procedure on the frontal sinuses, and everyone can do it now, actually faster, easier and maybe even better. Then that really. Changes the game, and those are also the most lucrative. So it was interesting. Battle. It was. It played itself out over many years, and some some of it publicly, but in the end, patients won and doctors overall won, because at that time, enough doctors had been exposed to the technology and were using it, they recognized the power of it and and really sort of essentially forced the academy to get behind it, but it was quite unusual, and we were we were lucky. We had some very good and strong partners who stood up for the technology against tremendous political threats and pressure, and that's why it's still available for patients today. But it was wild. It was a wild process and and many moments where we thought we were just actually going to get destroyed, but we thankfully, with the help of the community and and lots of good leadership at the company, you know, got there. 

Josh Makower  16:15  
Yeah, thanks for sharing that, Cam. I didn't prepare with you for this question. So sorry. But I don't actually know how you became a VC. I know about ignition partners, and you had about a 20 year run there, invested a lot of companies and founders that I know in the Pacific Northwest,

Cameron Myhrvold  16:31  
right? Well. So I had been at Microsoft for 13 years, did a lot, primarily in the sales and marketing of our operating systems. And, you know, it was time for me to go, and so I left, a number of folks left at the same time, you know, no no forcing function there. But I thought it was more interesting to try something on the outside. And we decided to to try our hand at early stage investing. So Earlier it had on the slide that I'm with revival healthcare. I'm sure it's a fine firm. I don't know who they are. We were the I was with ignition partners, and helped found ignition partners. And they're an IT firm, so information technology specialists in enterprise software, and so got into that. And look, it's a great job. It is super interesting. It's very intellectually stimulating. It keeps you current a lot of things. And it's also kind of agonizing, because it takes you so long to understand whether you made the right decisions right that can take, you, know, upwards of a decade. So that's a little frustrating part of it, but it is. It is a great job. I think it's a pretty crowded job these days. I don't know specifically about healthcare, but certainly in the in the IT side.

Gabe Jones  17:51  
So you ended up effectively leading third party developer engagement for Microsoft platform. Yeah, did. So I thought you were going to say that maybe when the Steve Ballmer developers, developers video came out, that's when you decided to leave and become a VC. Okay,

Cameron Myhrvold  18:06  
so one quick story there. When he did all that, he punched himself in the face so hard he had a shiner the next day, and he walked up to the stage. He goes, Uh, yeah, if I have a black eye tomorrow, no one did that to me. I just did it to myself, dancing around the stage. If

Gabe Jones  18:23  
you want to be entertained, don't do it right now. But maybe after this, just Google Steve Ballmer, developers video entertained, slash, horrified. There you go. Yeah. Well, you have the distinction having worked with with Paul Allen, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, for quite a long time. Any lessons that you can share here? I mean understanding that you didn't found Microsoft, but you joined them at an early stage and saw them through 15 years of tremendous growth. Yeah, absolutely. Any lessons you can share with the founders and investors here.

Cameron Myhrvold  18:57  
You know, well, a couple things we used to say, focus wins. I don't know how focused the company was when I left, but certainly when I got there, initially, they were very focused. And that that paid off, you know, and also, the whole job of a startup is to be more nimble, closer to the customer, smarter, faster than, you know, the incumbents. And if you can't do that, then obviously you don't really have a place being in a startup, and your startup probably isn't going to be successful, so embrace those. Take advantage of it. Changes your friend. The more you have a view of the world different from other people's. That can be a gigantic advantage.

Gabe Jones  19:35  
It actually dovetails with what you and I discovered right before we came in here, which is that we met five or six years ago at CES when speaking of focus, proprio was a laptop and a Oculus dev kit, two headset that didn't work very well, as you thankfully reminded me. I appreciate that. Josh, thankfully artificial intelligence AR VR has gotten a lot better, as has the proprio paradigm system. Could you talk a little bit about, maybe pivots or focus, just tapping into that theme a little bit more, any product decisions? One of my favorite interview questions for new hires, including Kabir Gulati, our new head of data at proprio, was what's the hardest product decision you've ever had to make, whether that's killing something that you were really in love with a feature that customers, the feedback was tremendous. We need this, but maybe it just wasn't exactly the right thing, or you weren't gonna be able to get it there right because of resources or timing, or whatever it might be, or technical difficulty in execution, whatever, right?

Josh Makower  20:37  
Well, you know, in the framework that we teach at Stanford, Biodesign, you got this thing called the need spec and criteria that you're always trying to iterate to, and that's the idealized view of what you're really trying to achieve for patients, right? And along the way, you have your ideas and they seem to fit, but then you actually do experiments, and then then you actually have to build things and then go test them, and you learn whether you have what you thought you had. And we've, I would say, you know, and I'll use it, you know, a successful story as an example. New attract. We went and did first, first in human and seemed like it was going to work, but that was a crude version. And then we built, we actually spent two years building a product that we thought were going to take to market, and we went to the again, first in the human experience, and it did not work. Well. It was big, clunky, unreliable. It was also too expensive. And, you know, we had just put two years into this thing, and we stepped back from this. This is not going to fly, and we have to start over. And you can imagine how the board and the investors were thrilled about that.

Gabe Jones  22:01  
Who got to break that news?

Josh Makower  22:03  
That was probably me, actually was me and my co founder, Ted Lamson, and and we basically said, Yeah, we this is not, this is not ready for prime time. We need to do it over. And here's why, and here's what we learned now we understand these criteria better. And and we did. We actually restarted. We developed a whole new product. And how long did that take? It was two years, I mean, to get it back to with all the testing and everything, get it back. But that next product was the product that never changed all the way from nothing to our, you know, sale to Teleflex for over a billion dollars. But, but that was a tough decision to make, yeah, but it was the right one, obviously and literally. As we navigated many years of FDA and all that kind of stuff, making that tough decision then was the right thing to do, because otherwise we've been stuck with that early version, and we would have been kicking ourselves the whole time. Yeah? So anyway, yeah, it's, it's, it's important to be real with yourself and tell yourself the truth all along the way. And if you don't have the right thing, then go fix it, you know, because otherwise you're gonna just live with this thing, and it's really not gonna be fun. So make that difficult decision as early as, yeah, exactly. Do it when you see it. Yeah, that's

Gabe Jones  23:26  
good guidance for everybody in the room. Kim, you and I talked about, how the heck do you start a winery in the sort of corollaries with starting a company in terms of talent, where does one go to and how do you attract the right key people to start making wine, growing grapes and making wine?

Cameron Myhrvold  23:44  
Yeah. So I'd lived in Washington for a long time. Collected wine. The Washington wine industry is about the 10th the size of the California wine industry, so it is possible to sort of get your arms around that and to know folks. And so I started by recruiting the best vineyard manager. You know that I knew our whole philosophy is wine is made in the vineyard, so if the fruit is not unique and differentiated, then what comes out of the bottle probably isn't going to be either. So we put a big focus on farming. And so my partner and vineyard manager is, I think, the best vineyard manager in the state. And then together, we found guy who, I think is one of the more talented young winemakers in the state. He actually trained at Bryant family in Napa, which is very prestigious winery, and he's been up in Washington for probably 15 years now, no less 10 years. But making great, great wines. And you know, he made, he made all of these. And you know the experiment of La Tommy to say, Okay, why in the world would you co ferment five different. White varieties. That was him and our vineyard manager collaborating and saying, Hey, let's try it. And I was all for it and very pleased with the results.

Gabe Jones  25:10  
So those of you who don't know Bryant, the joke in the wine industry about Bryant is the juice is worth so much that they have interns holding buckets under each of the the vats and the casks to catch every single drop, because that's like a $400 drop, and then they, they find a way to get that in the bottle.

Cameron Myhrvold  25:28  
It is $700 on release. That's right, yes, a bottle. 

Gabe Jones  25:32  
It's like screaming angle. So I think that's super interesting. How does one attract that kind of talent? Like, there's the identification of a great vineyard minister.

Cameron Myhrvold  25:42  
So you know, the same reason, you know, they work in the wine industry, they're excited by this, and they come and they see the site. It's like, wow, nobody's ever grown grapes up here. We hired a guy from Paso Robles to consult with us, and he came up and he looks at the site. He goes, Why in the world, has no one ever planted grapes here before, you know, but it's the the attitude of the people you know, right next door to me was, you know, going higher in elevation, going to the North Slope. That was all nonsense. Nothing would come of that. But I think we're showing that, that there can be very good things that come about. Yeah.

Gabe Jones  26:25  
I mean, the juice is really good, so you're doing something right for sure. Thank you. Could you talk a little bit about prior to the reputation being established, right? Like now, you could go recruit talent, if you have an idea, and pull in any a so if you know about all those partnerships, you've done lots of things for and with those folks. How do you recruit top talent earlier in that sequence, right before that whole track record is established? Yeah,

Josh Makower  26:52  
I think you need to have an idea that is compelling enough that draws people forward, you know, sort of a mission, a vision for something that's so exciting that it actually, you know, brings your your team together. You know, we, when my very first projects, was an absolutely impossible project. It was called transva. And our vision was to do coronary bypass grafting completely percutaneously with catheters, so on an awake patient, you know, with catheters that you'd introduce through the femoral artery in and vein, do the whole thing. And it was an audaciously crazy idea, but people came out for it, like, there was, like, it was like, This is ridiculous, but I have to do it like, sort of one of those type of things. So I think, I think that's part of it is to have something that really is just so compelling that it's like, wow, this actually, if this, if this could work, this would be amazing. And honestly, as I look back at the folks that we pulled together, you know, they've all gone off, and many of them, I continue to work with, actually, in various other projects, but they've all gone off to do really cool things, you know. So it was a good group of folks that came together, even though we had to pivot, and we actually wound up not doing that. We we saved the company and pivoted to something a little bit more doable. But all those technologies that we were developing, you know, were super cool, and it was an amazing experience. And, and I even, you know, there's definitely things I would try to do better next time, but I don't regret trying to do something that was that exciting.

Gabe Jones  28:49  
What's the this is totally on the fly. Did not prep you for this, but yeah, what's the craziest, most creative, hopefully most effective recruiting effort? You know, you just went after somebody who was awesome and you got him, or did something creative or interesting to get great team together, or something like that. Well, like, maybe send them a huge bottle of champagne or something like that. No,

Josh Makower  29:12  
I mean, I think the whole, you know, look, there was a whole wave where, and I still, I guess, you know, I, I'm sure there's many stealth companies in the room, you know, this is, this works, you know, like it's a secret. Only you can know, you know. But I, you know. And this is back, you know, I think, inspired by, you know, some people have taken it to extremes, and not in a good way, you know. And I won't mention any names, but, but there was a thing like, you know, keeping it, you know, keeping the element of surprise is also sort of like, you know, like the screening process too. And I think the funniest one, which, now that you've reminded me I was when I was recruiting Bill facto to to McLaren and be. Because, you know, we, you know, so we were, we were like, three or four interviews in before we were telling, we're going to tell him what it is, you know. And he was in the cardiovascular business, but very relevant background. And, you know, we had all sorts. He met all the board members. We had various people. John Chang, my co founder, you know, interviewed him and says, Finally, you know, like we get to the moment of truth. You know, it's okay. You've passed all the screens. Now I'll share with you what what a client is, and this is the the business that's in balloon, Sinuplasty for chronic sinusitis. And, you know, start the presentation. It's a picture of a nose. And he goes, Wait, what a nose? What is this all about? You know? And he was so disappointed. I mean, it was like, like, Wait, have. I would not have done all this if this is for, like, the nose. Like, just bear with me, Bill. I'm going to tell you the story just like, and, and, of course, he wound up joining. And, you know, it was a success, but, but anyway, that's a, that's a we used to keep. We used to keep, we used to go way into the interview process and do all this other stuff before we'd actually tell people what it was about, just to keep it secret, because if we decided not to proceed, we didn't want people knowing. You know what we're doing. This

Gabe Jones  31:22  
is an entirely unplanned moment, but right now we're going to do the first nose. Did not do that intentionally, but it worked out. So what are we having? Kim, what's the third Okay, so

Cameron Myhrvold  31:32  
the last wine is our Bordeaux blend. It is a third Cabernet Sauvignon, a third Merlot and a third Cab Franc. And this wine is not released, it won't be released until October.

Gabe Jones  31:48  
So a third Cab Franc is a lot of Cab Franc when oftentimes you're at 10, 12% I

Cameron Myhrvold  31:54  
personally well, so first of all, I went back and I tasted pretty exhaustively all of the great wines that were made from Red Mountain in the past. And there's a lot of commonality. I loved wines with some Merlot and cab Franca sounds

Gabe Jones  32:09  
like a really just arduous product development, market research process, late nights,

Cameron Myhrvold  32:17  
you know? And also, of course, I love the Bordeaux wines of San Emilion, and so we want to try and do something like that. This is our first attempt. We've got another one that we're starting to blend for 2022 vintage. This is 2021 and that's down to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. I don't know that we'll ever completely eliminate Cabernet Sauvignon, because I don't want to be prescriptive about it. It's always about creating the best possible wine, but I think we can create a pretty interesting wine, long lived wine, in that style. I think

Gabe Jones  32:53  
it's really important to and you alluded to it earlier, with respect to Grenache, from a volume perspective, I'm sure you know the ballpark numbers, but Washington State heavily indexes on Cabernet Merlot, as does California. Now it's a little more diverse down here. Do you have any sense of how much Bordeaux blend those grapes by volume are for Washington State?

Cameron Myhrvold  33:15  
Gotta be well, Cabernet is probably number one. I think Syrah would be number two, and I think Merlot would be third, after that. People don't realize it, but if you look at actual plantings in Bordeaux, Bordeaux is 50% Merlot. It's 25% cab saw about 25% I didn't realize it was that high. Yeah, it's, it's, it's quite high.

Gabe Jones  33:39  
And this is definitely a leading question, but what would you say is the single grape that is the most expressive of the land, the terroir in Washington State? The correct answer is Syrah.

Cameron Myhrvold  33:52  
Well, I would probably say the Grenache and Syrah. There's also a second cousin to those wines called muvedra. We that's the wine that sells out the fastest. That's the wine that typically gets the highest score. For us. We don't make a lot of it, but that's a fantastic grape for Washington State. When we planted it, there were fewer than nine acres planted in the state. Wow. I'm sure there's more now, and there deserves, that deserves to be, you know, number three or four, definitely an

Gabe Jones  34:25  
underappreciated varietal in the US, for sure. Yeah, Josh is there. And again, I didn't prep you for this at all, but we're sufficiently in Vino Veritas, so we're telling true this year. What was the wine, or one or two wines that just told you I love this stuff. I've got to get closer to understanding wine and how it's made and what I like about it, right?

Josh Makower  34:49  
I It was absolutely Angelo gaia's, you know, wine in general, but I think it was a Barbara. Go and and I was, this is young, early in my career, before I could afford any of that wine. But I was fortunate to be working for Pfizer, and my boss, who loved food and wine, and we, you know, this is back in the day when the the travel and expense budget was quite rich,

Gabe Jones  35:24  
and one of your VCs took you out for the new season the room, that's the main way to take care of your family. I

Josh Makower  35:30  
mean, I, you know, I did not. My parents were both, you know, teachers, you know, we get to the end of the summer and they'd be like, shaken that we'd be like, what money do we have for, like, pizza, you know, and we did macaroni cheese pizza, you know, things that were that were that could be reheated. And so, you know, working for Pfizer, and it was a whole new experience. I mean, the the the best hotel I had stayed in at that point, you know, before that was like, Howard Johnson's, and so it was all the thing, but I got exposed to this wine over dinner, and I just was like, it was like, the angels sang, you know, oh, it's like, Oh my God. What? Oh my god, I loved it and and I actually was like, How do I Where do I buy it? I've never seen it before, so I, you know, called my local distributor. Actually, I think I wrote a letter to Angela, Gaia. No, that's what I did. I did. I wrote a letter to him, yeah, I did, uh huh. And I was like, Where do I buy your wine? 

Gabe Jones  36:41  
He was he probably felt sorry for me, and he pointed me to the local, a local responded to your letter. 

Josh Makower  36:49  
He did, wow. He did, actually, later on in life, obviously, with Corvin, he would, I went and we did our early testing with Angelo and also Roberto contino and a couple in the Piedmonte region is great to sort of reconnect, you know. But anyway, he pointed me to a local distributor and and I bought my first bottle of Gaia, you know, saved up for it, and at that point I was working for Pfizer, so I can afford to buy a bottle. But this is more than 1g, A, j, A, G, A, j, A, right, yeah. And I

Gabe Jones  37:23  
know that because I've been fortunate to stumble into two bottles and I'm afraid to open Yeah, for that same reason,

Josh Makower  37:28  
Corvin. Corvin is your solution. You can drink it now just a glass and then relieve the rest for later.

Gabe Jones  37:37  
Well, I'm happy that now Josh has offered to the entire audience a friend and family discount on corv. Is that what you just said, That's what I heard, 20% off. All right,

Josh Makower  37:46  
all right, only for this audience. I'm going to give you a V I'm going to give you the VIP code. Okay, this is just for the special people who have stuck around to the very last Okay, write this down. When you go on the core of insight, you'll get a 20% discount with the following code. Are you ready? VIP capitals, 2024, all one word. There's a 20% discount and all core event stuff for you. Thank you for sticking around. Believe

Gabe Jones  38:18  
it or not, we did not plan that I don't

Josh Makower  38:21  
know. Thank you. Brought to you by special promotional announcement by Corvin. Thank you very much.

Gabe Jones  38:27  
Cam, was there a transformative wine for you? Like, I mean, you got to top that story? Corvin.com

Cameron Myhrvold  38:33  
Yeah, I I had a girlfriend in college who liked wine, and I went to buy a wine for her birthday, and I got this big Spiel from the wine guy, and he said, like, this Cabernet, it tastes like nuts. I'm like nuts. It's being a grape juice dude. How could it possibly taste like nuts? So I bought it $7 drank it that night, and oh my god, it tasted like nuts. And I was like, What is this stuff? How can that be? And that started me down the path. What was that? I didn't catch it. It was a Preston vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley. The winery is no longer there, but it was best $7 cab I ever had.

Gabe Jones  39:22  
I'm going to reference a winemaker that you know, I'm sure, Christoph Barone from Washington State. Obviously, I'm showing my bias here. Christophe Barone, B, A, R, O N, who comes from a winemaking family from France, started making these just wild Syrah down by the border of Washington, Oregon. The only word I can think of is, you know, is vegetal or limestone and another,

Cameron Myhrvold  39:46  
or just, just funk, yeah, is the general term for it, no, and, and, sure, in you get, I got a friend who describes them as feral lines, yeah. And that's, that's pretty good. I. Tend to like that. I like the siraas from Cornas and hermitage that have that and and Christoph wines have that in spades, yes,

Gabe Jones  40:10  
such that maybe I would say it's kind of inspired a district called the rocks district in Washington State, where there are a number of different folks who have made wine with Christophe and gone out into this sort of diaspora, and Dalmas is one that comes to mind the Alexanders force majeure, which for a lot of us in venture means a different contractual language, but, but force of nature, right? And some of these wines are truly forces of nature, and they just unfold in the glass as you're experiencing them over the course of an hour or two. Yeah, change.

Cameron Myhrvold  40:45  
I actually think the rocks district, the rocks district of Milton freewater, it's actually in Oregon. The wall wall region is mainly in Washington, but it does dip down into Oregon. Is one of the best examples of terroir. It really is because you can, you can absolutely pick wines out from that region because of that, that funk. Could

Gabe Jones  41:07  
you that's actually a great segue. Could you explain how that area, inclusive of going up to Red Mountain and horse heaven hills in that area? Geologically, this is a fascinating story. Geologically formed,

Cameron Myhrvold  41:19  
yeah. Yeah. So that area was a puzzle for a long time, and geologists couldn't figure it out, and then they discovered it was formed by a series of huge floods during the last ice age. So as the glaciers retreated, there was actually a lake called Lake Missoula, and it covered most of Montana, Wyoming and parts of Idaho, and it was held up by an ice dam. And they believed that, as you know, the glaciers were treated and things got warmer, that ice dam would fail, and you would get this gigantic flood. And that flood, and it happened many times, actually carved out the Columbia River Basin. So our site is about 10 miles north of the Columbia River, and Red Mountain is just high enough to be above the level of the flood. So like a rock and a river, you get these back eddies on the on the downward side of it, and that is what's deposited the soils where people grow wine. The cool thing about our property is, you know, it starts in that very deep, silty soil, but it also extends up to the top. That is was never inundated in the flood, and it's all broken basalt. So from a geologic perspective, it's very interesting, and we were one of the first to grow grapes above the level of the flood on Red Mountain. And also the the north side, and it's a hop site, so being on the north side, you're out of the sun a little bit earlier each day. And that's a that's a real advantage, and not

Gabe Jones  42:56  
that it's a competition, but everything's a competition. So compared to our friends down here in California, does Eastern Washington have more the less or the same in terms of the length of a growing day during the growing season of great, no, the growing day is an hour and a half longer. Thank you for delivering on that message. So Washington State better than California. You heard it here first.

Cameron Myhrvold  43:15  
That's where we are. It's a desert. So you get, you know, you get things to cool off at night, which helps the diurnal change, allows you to preserve your acidity. One of the hallmarks of of our wines, and I think most Washington wines, is great acidity, which you really need if you want that freshness, and if you want it to go well with with food. But yes, we do have a very long day during the summer, delivering the hottest period of the hottest hour of the day in the vineyard is typically 6pm

Gabe Jones  43:51  
that's incredible, yeah. So you've painted a beautiful picture of winemaking. I think we've done the the we found the intersection of venture tech, med tech, we've told stories of Near Death Experiences. Thank you, Josh. Just in closing here, let's take a take a look at the future. So future of winemaking. Any thoughts, and then let's talk medtech. Just to close things out, where are things going? Sure, so

Cameron Myhrvold  44:14  
I would say that, you know, each year, wine, generally speaking, gets better and better. So it's that is a great thing for the consumer. A lot of people are very concerned about global warming, climate change in general. I don't really share that, because if you look at grapes today, and you look at grape syrup that has grown in you know, San Luis Obispo and great Syrah that has grown a stone stove from the Canadian border. That's a huge variation. And the difference, of course, is, you know, the clones that are planted might be different. The viticulture might be different. When you pick might be different. How exactly you make the wine might be different, but wine can handle. So a far larger range of climate and does today than people imagine. So I think that, you know, will they be making great Cabernet and Napa in 2050 Yeah, I think they will. Now, it may not be identical to how they make it, grow it and make it today, but they'll be able to do that because the grape is fundamentally a super adaptable plant,

Gabe Jones  45:27  
and the winemakers and the viticulturists are they will feature burial and adaptable you bet that's a cool message. Josh, what's the future look like in medtech and invention that

Josh Makower  45:36  
area? Well, the future is here. Thank you. Scott pantle, I really want to I think we should give him a run. I will say I've been impressed by this, by this meeting. I had the great opportunity to attend Barcelona as well, and I'm incredibly excited. I mean, you have catalyzed the community and created a venue for that communication. And I am amazed. I mean, it's really the strategics, the venture groups, the entrepreneurs, the innovators, well done. This is, this is what it's about, and it's about community and coming together. So when I come to a meeting like this, I am incredibly optimistic about our future, and you know, I really mean it. So thank you. Thank you, Scott, thanks LSI, and you know, Thanks for Thanks for having me.

Gabe Jones  46:39  
What a better way to close. Cheers, here's to you. Cheers, thank you. Thank you guys. Bye.

 

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