What do you want to be when you grow up?
By Renae Perry – Co-Owner of Papapietro Perry Winery
I never dreamed I would be running a winery one day, but I did dream of helping people.
Wine is such a great antidote for living. It is the perfect thing to help you ease the ills of a rough day as well as celebrate the joys of life.
Growing up in Upstate New York, I wanted to be a nurse. My mother always wanted to be a nurse, I’m sure this influenced my career choice. As a child I spent my time reading Cherry Ames the Nurse series of books. I’d don my little nurse costume, get out my toy stethoscope and do my best to save the day and nurse my family back to health. Nursing was my calling and started planning my career path.
I became a candy striper at a local hospital as soon as I was old enough, (16 years old). Cheering up the patients, bringing them magazines, juice and fluffing their pillows. I would imagine how it would be to actually be a nurse and knew this is what I would do. On one fateful afternoon I was asked by one of the nurses to assist her with changing a patient’s bandage. Candy Stripers were not actually allowed to perform this sort of work, but given my aptitude and eagerness to learn, I agreed to assist the nurse in her time of need. This was a particularly gruesome job and a bit more than my 16-year-old self could handle. I still remember it as if it were yesterday. To actually see a real wound was quite a shock to me. As the realization set in that as a nurse I was going to have to do a lot more than take people’s temperature, and hand out candy pills as I had done as a child, I realized I needed to consider another career.
One thing I did know for sure was that I really enjoyed helping people.
As college approached I researched other ways to do that. I thought about being a therapist (too much school!) and decided that Special Education would be the choice for me. I figured I would be helping children and psychology was a big part of the job. After getting my B.S. and Teaching Credential in Special Education, I taught for a year. I really loved it, but my parents left New York while I was in college in search of a warmer climate and ended up in San Diego. Living in Buffalo, NY, it seemed to get colder every year, so as you can imagine California seemed like a great idea. San Diego wasn’t my cup of tea, but San Francisco seemed like the perfect place. A friend and I along with my 2 dogs and her 3 cats, got in her car and headed west. We were young and a little crazy. It was quite a drive across the country as you can imagine!
Thus my career in the tech world began where I spent the next 20 years.
Once we arrived in San Francisco I was told there were 10,000 unemployed teachers so I better find an alternate way to make a living. I fell back on work I had done throughout college; waiting tables. Not exactly the career I envisioned but a lot of fun. The tech world was just starting in the bay area so I went back to school and learned computer programming. I was working in a restaurant that had installed one of those “new” computer systems for ordering and I found my new calling. I got my first job in tech, teaching people to use computers in restaurants. Couldn’t have found a job more suited to my skills!
It was while living in San Francisco that I met the love of my life.
Fortunately he felt the same way about me! Bruce Perry also had a passion for winemaking and I welcomed the chance to share that passion with him. We made wine as a hobby for many years while living in San Francisco before deciding to start a real winery. As the winery grew, we knew it was time to relocate and devote ourselves to making a new life for ourselves in Healdsburg.
And now, here we are loving life in wine country, running Papapietro Perry with our partners.
Even though life refashioned my calling, I couldn’t be happier to have ended up here.
It all started with handing out magazines and juice to people needing a lift. I feel like I am still doing that, but instead we toast with wine! It is different, but it is a transformation I relish!
Great story Renae. It really shows how life will get you to where you want to be if you just follow the pathways that become available. Nice job with the winery thing, too!