Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back to the Hills, Part 2

The main house; now only used
occassionally by winery owner
The first task at hand was to prepare the grounds and big house for a company picnic. I did my best to cop the lion’s share, but Sarah worked harder on the enormous kitchen than she should have.  I was too busy trying to spare her the rest of the house to stop her! Luckily my husband and I ran a hotel in Galveston in ages past, so I’m actually pretty fast at that stuff.

Happily, the vineyard staff took care of the weeding and set up the camp circle, so all we had to do was the house. The next day a huge bus carrying the office folk trundled precariously up the mountain track. The winery owner provided box lunches for everyone, thoughtfully including one for me. They began the outing with a walking tour. Sis and I didn’t join them until they settled in for lunch.
They were an interesting group. The world of wine is alien to me, but I found them happy to answer questions on their individual jobs. Being an old Hoosier farm girl, I was most interested in the soil specialist. What did he test for? What was the optimal dirt and conditions for grapes? “Low stress” was the only thing I understood!

The winemaker explained that this particular vineyard grew pinot grapes, as in “Pinot Noir.” Then he gestured at the lower 40 and said that section was for experimentation. The grapes are sorted into three grades, premium, medium, and what-can-we-do-with-these? They had vintage bottles from the premises for tasting, and although I’m no particular fan of Pinot Noir, I found it quite good. The difference may be that it was premium grade, as in fifty bucks a bottle! Yikes!
Speaking of yikes, the winery owner and his wife had given Sarah three bottles of their finest as a get-well gift. She’d already uncorked a Chardonnay before learning it was a no-no with her meds. I gratefully disposed of it for her over the course of my two-week stay. But what to do with the Pinot Noir and the 2008 Napa Valley Red? Dare I try to take it home? Nothing to it, the winemaker assured me. Just pack the bottles in bubble wrap and put it in checked luggage. Seeing several nods of assent around the circle, I determined to try it.  All I’m risking is making a few of those dratted TSA agents much happier than they should be!

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