When the first plane hit the Twin Towers, Scott Gould was still buried in paperwork. His boss had to force the team to dash out of their office, down 36 flights of stairs.
This was on September 11, 2001. Gould stood on solid ground 18 minutes later, as the second plane crashed into the South Tower. “It was in that moment, that moment only, that I realised we were under attack. That changed everything,” says Gould.
“You know, the things I saw, the smells. There are certain images that will stay with me forever.”
The Floridian quit his high-paying job as a trader nine months later.
He remembered how he used to love working in restaurants when he was younger. So, he called the manager at Del Frisco’s, a steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan he was a regular at, to ask for a job.
“That incident made me realise: If I’m going to run out of a building, I better love what I am doing,” says Gould.
“Time is our most precious commodity.”
It wasn’t easy waiting on tables he used to wine and dine clients at, but Gould relished this new experience. He recalls a night when the kitchen ventilation system stopped working, causing the room to overheat. The sprinklers went off, as did the fire alarm, as the restaurant started filling with smoke.
“If I’m going to run out of a building, I better love what I am doing.”
– Scott Gould, director of BOND estates
With 300 diners waiting, Gould made a snap decision. He waded through six inches of water, a Zagat guide in one hand and a cell phone in the other. One by one, he asked diners for their next choice and called up the restaurants they wanted.
“I never went to culinary school, but I spent many, many days running the kitchens and learning to work the floor,” says Gould.
“In situations like these, it’s how quickly you react that sets the stage, and I was willing to learn and understand everything.”
Now director of Napa Valley winery BOND Estates, Gould embraces this same thirst for knowledge. He might not be a winemaker or farmer, but he spent as much time as he could in the cellars to understand the process of running a boutique winery.
“When I was with Del Frisco’s, it was all about growing the company, going public, and driving top-line sales,” shares Gould. “Working for a family-owned winery is quite different, because when you run out (of wines), you run out. It’s truly about the quality.”
To be sure, the estate is small. Under 50 staff oversee the wine production and trade.
Gould is BOND’s seasoned story-teller. It’s a role he shrugs on like a second skin. His gaze is steady, as is his voice, when he talks about the five vineyards that produce BOND’s signature wines — Melbury, Quella, St. Eden, Vecina and Pluribus. The vineyards vary in size and elevation; the wines range from fruity and fresh, to powerful and muscular.
“Even though the market is saturated, you have to know the difference between your wine and your competitors’. We’re not just assuming the wine will continue to sell itself,” says Gould.
“You need to have great trade partners who can help you tell that story as well.”
This is where his experience from Del Frisco’s comes in handy. As Gould is familiar with inventory control, the valuation of a restaurant’s wine cellar, and working budgets, he is able to connect with partners.
“The education of trade is the most important thing I can do with my time,” says Gould. “Until you taste the wines, side by side, it’s hard for people to fully understand what you’re telling them,” he shares.
“But once they understand that, they become champions for you.”