Linus had the right idea

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There is no better gift than a nice warm security blanket. But unlike our favorite Peanuts character, we need more than a blanket to get that warm, fuzzy feeling of security.  Now is the time to take a look at your processes to see where you might tighten up your procedures, review roles, or change passwords.

We’re fortunate to have our own Certified Fraud Examiner (aka Inspector Gadget), …

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Reaching for the Stars

img_3157-400x600.jpgI had the opportunity to discover a local insurance agent’s passion for astronomy.  We had just wrapped-up our Junior Achievement board meeting when we were invited to enter into Gary’s other world.  He had built a specially designed observatory.  With its high-tech computer system it can track the planets and stars so you can quickly find them in the night sky.

Frankly, I have not been one to spend much time focusing on the night sky but I could hear the passion in Gary’s voice …

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A Southerner’s Perspective

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Napa Valley can be an intimidating place. If the idea of wine with its white tablecloths and sommeliers weren’t intimidating enough, there’s all of that terminology that you need to understand. There are “appellations” (not to be confused with the Appalachians) and “terroir” (which isn’t to be confused with terror unless you’re a southerner who doesn’t speak French very well.) I’ve barely managed to adapt to the new directional perspective required when the coasts changed sides from left to …

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What’s in that barrel?

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I recently spent some time with the tasting room team at a local Napa Valley winery learning what was in their 2008 barrels.  The winemaker described how the wine’s flavor is impacted by the soils, lighting, temperature and water drainage.  Hearing all the variables that impact the flavor of the wine was interesting.  However, it was amazing to taste the difference these items had on the wine.  The Pinots …

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Changing Seasons

img_3151b.jpgOn a recent exploration into the vineyards I had the opportunity to take some pictures of the changing season. If you have been reading my prior blog entries you might have noticed the photographs that I include. Taking pictures is my way of recording what I observe at any point in time.

With fall in full swing, I enjoy watching the changes that take place in the Napa Valley. Harvest has wrapped up and the vines are getting ready to shut down for a deserved …

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Tortuga

A week has quickly passed since I stood on a beach in Puerto Vallarta with 20 vacationers who got to help baby sea turtles begin their life journey. As we watched the little guys and gals make their way down the beach to the water I could only imagine the adventure that awaited them. If nature has its way only 1 of every 1,000 will survive to adulthood. Thanks to local hotel workers turtle eggs are gathered each season and kept in a controlled environment until they hatch. Once the young tortuga’s are strong enough they …

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Rise Above

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On my way to the office I stopped to take a few pictures of hot air balloons near Yountville. As I watched them peacefully land amongst the vines, I thought about the image they created. One balloon was red, white and blue. It was bulging at the seams with pride like a real patriot. It looked like it wanted to keep going higher. It wasn’t ready to call it a day.

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Filtering to preserve your assets

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I had the opportunity to tour a company that manufactures filtration systems for the wine industry. Their system removes impurities which can cause the destruction of the wine and make it worthless. I was fascinated by the complexity of the machinery and surprised at its portability. Their systems are a huge benefit to the wine industry and especially to small producers because it frees them from having to invest a significant amount of cash into limited-use equipment. Instead, a vintner …

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Five Ways a Blind Tasting is Like an Audit

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As I was visiting with a customer and watching a hospitality employee walk us through the steps of a blind wine tasting, it occurred to me that there are some similarities between the tasting process and how we work as auditors.

1. You apply the smell test

Wine Tasting – you sniff the wine in the glass, and inhale the aroma. The smell influences the taste of the wine.

Audit – you apply the “smell test” to transactions to see if the substance …

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Corks and People

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I recently had the opportunity to go inside a winery and listen to an assistant winemaker provide his insights into cork selection. It was fascinating to discover how that closure device can be a real pain. The argument is often made that the cork contributes to the romance and is an important part of the wine experience. On the flip side is how this small organic product can destroy the wine it is meant to protect.

As I …

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