On this chilled winter day, contemplative clouds of grey fill the woods and swoop up and over the vineyard as if in a dreamy dance, swirling, floating, drifting. I find myself reflecting on where we have come since planting the much maligned grape of Pinot Noir in Virginia. We did go out on a limb, following the family theme of life being more of a journey than a destination. We embarked on this wild adventure having no idea of its potential folly or its success. It seems the vines have spoken.
These vines have been my constant companions throughout. I look down at them every morning upon arising. I watch them as I drive by. As the sun sets behind the mountain to our west, I follow the moving line of sunlight that slowly slides east in the evenings and watch the vines fade into the darkness of night. I work amongst them, tending to their stages of dormancy or growth. Confession time... I occasionally talk to them and often hum. Sometimes I simply stroll between the rows, even when they need no tending in the depths of winter. I think my favorite time of all to "just be" with our vines is on a clear night when the Milky Way stretches across the open skies and the Big Dipper and the Pleiades and Orion are clearly positioned above and I imagine stardust sprinkling down onto this little place on earth.
These vines and the fruit they create, the earth and granite beneath my feet formed eons ago, all offer me the gift of connection... a link to something much greater than myself. I find this to be for me, a spiritual inspiration, a source on unending joy; yes, even in the heat of the summer or when we struggle to battle fungi and other pests, joy is still my fuel, albeit a bit diminished at those times. It is all a part of something so grand.
The morning before our first harvest in August of 2010, as the sun rose from behind the mountain crest, I went down to the vineyard and I walked through every row, my hands outstretched and said a wistful goodbye to the fruit that would create our very first vintage. The grapes that were plucked the next morning, leaving our succulent vines bare, went through their transformation over the days, weeks and months that followed.
We continue our fruit's gentle care from vineyard into the winery as Nathan carefully tends to their transformation from grapes into wine. The fragrance that fills the winery during fermentation is reminiscent of some glorious memory for me and I always feel a hint of sadness when the fermentation phase is complete. It is a magical time, these transformative days. When we leave in the evening and turn off the lights, I often feel I am tucking children in at bedtime. I like to leave Beethoven or Bach playing quietly overnight.
For now, our 2013 grapes are embryonic, buried inside the nodes of our cold, chilled canes, all fast asleep. Birth will come soon enough. Even now I imagine these tiny cells can sense the vibration of sound coming from a humming voice that patiently awaits their emergence in spring. Until then, dear grapes, rest well. You have a big year ahead of you. We will be with you for the whole of the journey. You will burst forth, flower, set fruit, enlarge, ripen, be plucked from your mother vine, tended to with care by many hands. You will ferment, be bottled and age into something beautiful, honest to yourself; be sipped, shared, enjoyed with a special meal amongst family and friends and eventually be gone, left only to be remembered.
|Birth of a cluster|