Dr. Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Chair of Wine Business Institute, Sonoma State University (USA)
Years in the Industry:
20 professional years, overlapping with 20 years as an academic. I grew up working in my parents’ convenience store in Darwin, NT, Australia, and in 1996 I moved to South Australia to study Wine Marketing at University of Adelaide.
I graduated from University of Adelaide with a degree in Agricultural Business and an Honors degree in Wine Marketing, then studied at University of South Australia for a Masters in Business and PhD in Wine Marketing. In 2006 I moved to France to teach Wine Business, first in the Loire, then Burgundy, before relocating with my family to California in 2015.
My Biggest Challenge To Wellness:
There are widespread demands across my teaching, mentoring and leadership roles in helping to direct the wine sector. Trying to balance those with the needs of a family with two teenage boys, alcohol can be used as much for medication, as relaxation and socialization so it’s something I work hard to stay on top of.
There are no real guidelines or good mentoring for people to practice responsible alcohol consumption habits, so I have learned that ultimately you have to be in control of your own health.
How I Keep It Together To Stay Well:
After hitting 40 I had a health crisis. My French cheese habit combined with my discovery of American barbecue culture led to a serious spike in my cholesterol. I had a choice – go on statins, or change my lifestyle. Focusing on my health also forced me to reassess my alcohol consumption, which has become far more moderate.
I've fasted periodically for 5 years, and I’ve adopted a more plant-based diet. I also cycle 40 - 80 miles a week, workout twice a week, and earlier this year I started taking weekly yoga classes. I see a chiropractor to help manage my scoliosis, and yoga has drastically reduced my need for more regular visits. This combination of dietary modification, cardiovascular exercise, weight training, breathing and stretching has led to me feeling fitter than ever.