I considered making this a little travel diary, a compendium of which special people I saw; which cellars I visited; and which wines I tasted from tanks, barrels and bottles. But I thought that would a) be a little cruel and b) wouldn’t capture the essence of what getting to do those things really distils down to. And what, pray tell, may that be? A reflection on ‘why’ – why wine, why these wines, why do we do this at all and why we are so impossibly in love with it.
Frankly, as practical and rational as I like to call myself, I can only attribute it to a certain kind of magic that weaves through vineyards, cellars and the people moving between the two.
Take that magic and multiply it every time you get to be in the cellar; with the winemaker, wine thief (a sort of pipette-y thing used to steal wine from barrels to taste) in hand; showing you snapshots of works in progress while sharing observations on the state of the wine, the world, and anything in between. And isn’t that so brave? The ability to share something that’s still in progress. There’s an honesty, an inherent openness, and a beautiful sense of trust that you won’t judge their work for where it is now, but for where it one day will be. That’s what I have been so fortunate to experience, not just on this trip, but at seminal points along the journey that brought me where I am today. It’s that multiplied magic that has me besotted, obsessive and at times (a.k.a always) a little bit geeky about wine.
Now, my very level-headed, practical mother enjoys wine as much as the next person but it’s never quite computed for her as to why I’d quit a secure, well-paid corporate wine job for a little pink neighbourhood retail store – it’s all wine at the end of the day, isn’t it? I hear her imply.
One of the things that made this last trip so meaningful was that I had the joy of having my mother traipse through vineyards, cellars, and wine bars with me. And I had the joy of seeing the magic take hold of her too. That irrational, irrevocable love for this bit of liquid agriculture, made by some of the kindest, most sincere, and generous people you could have the pleasure to meet.
I asked the winemakers too. Through ongoing, mounting and unprecedented challenges that face an industry so brow-beaten by the last few years; all of their answers as to “why wine?” seem to meld into a collective shrug of “because, what else would we possibly do?”. Not with a sense of defeat, but of acceptance – once you’ve felt the magic, there simply is no other choice.
We didn’t choose the wine life; the wine life chose us. (And I count myself so very privileged to use the term ‘we’.)