Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A meditation


Here's a sorting table during a vintage I worked a few years ago. Somehow the tension in the air during crushing does not come through in this video I shot. Will the must hopper overflow? Am I forgetting to make an enzyme addition? Is there too much botrytis on the berries?

No, none of these things are happening, except in my head. And yet I am crouching under the grape conveyor with my little camera. 

I've done the hardest part of my job--I was out on the crushpad at sunrise, fortified with Marmite and espresso, my hangover from last night's Chenin Blanc present but irrelevant.  I set up the sorting tables, the conveyors, the crusher, got the tank ready, and made sure we got the right amounts of the right grapes. 

Then I walked down the line, flicking the switches on, before waving my hand in my best Morpheus-impression "c'mere" to tell the kid to start dumping the Grenache boxes on the first vibrating table. 

And I trust him and all the sorters, the way I hope my boss trusts me. I'm still keeping my eyes--and the third eye of my lens--on everything, but this is a system whose fitness I believe in by now. I've been overseeing this crew for weeks, and everything is going great. There is nothing to worry about. 

Watching this now is very calming to me. The berries keep falling at the same intervals, a few get yanked out, the rest become wine. It's all part of somebody's well-conceived plan that, to nobody's surprise, worked. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Missing South Africa

I took this photo in Stellenbosch (almost in Paarl) in February 2011. The mountain is Klapmutskop. We made really good Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, and other wines that season.

I was so nervous about going to South Africa. It sounded like a scary, dangerous place based on the sensationalist, out-of-context news stories I sought out and obsessed over in the two months prior to leaving.

The reality didn't match my expectation. The reality is this picture, which I somehow forgot about and let sit on my iPhoto for almost three years. Tell me a more beautiful place exists anywhere on earth.

I'm going to blow this picture up and hang it on my wall as a constant reminder of the yawning gulf between my worries and reality.

Gelukkig wynoes broers.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Val de Mer Petit Chablis 2012

Dear Harry,

I know that this is probably going to arrive in your mailbox just after you arrive in Fond-du-Lac and then sit there for weeks, but if I don’t write it now then it’s just going to sit in my brain, which I think you’ll agree is not as sturdy as your mailbox. And no less likely to have a baseball bat swung at it, at least if I don’t come up with that money I told you about.

So I didn’t run off into the woods after you dropped me off at the meeting; I didn’t run off into the woods that stretch along I-35 and start drinking the dregs of the beer cans and forty bottles that are never going to get cleaned up. Thanks for trusting me not to run off into the woods.

No, I went inside and I sat in the back and listened to this ponytailed Guatemalan guy and this beautiful waify blonde with a man’s name tell these stories about heavy metal music and whiskey for breakfast and speed for lunch and asskickings and betrayals and vomiting--there was so much vomiting in these people’s stories. It was like they whenever they forgot what they were going to say they just said something about how then they vomited everywhere.

The last speaker was this older broad who said she turned it around after she got tackled to the ground in Tampa airport and there were thirty pounds of cocaine in her luggage. Like, she seriously just put thirty pounds of cocaine in a suitcase and walked it into the airport and put it on the conveyor and figured everything would be fine and she would get paid on the other side so she could buy more drugs.

That one was hilarious. And she said she had been going to meetings the whole time she was running cocaine all over the country. I wanted to raise my hand and ask why we should believe she didn’t have thirty pounds of cocaine in her car right now.

And I didn’t.

Anyway. I’m still fucked in at least five of the seven senses of the word, but I’m glad you helped me or else it would be six of seven. Carol isn't coming back, big surprise. That really good Petit Chablis you brought over is still almost 2/3 full in my refrigerator. What the hell should I do with it? It probably tastes awful now. Maybe I’ll just leave it there for ten years.

Thanks Harry. I'll try to write you again in FDL, FML.