Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Amused By Winemaking As Art & A Muse

We watched "Vickie, Christina, Barcelona" the other night and we're talking about Woody Allen. "He's a genius," she says. "You have to be a little bit okashii to be a genius."

"That's why I'm kawate-iru," I say and she can't stop laughing.

That broke the tension.  Ten minutes earlier I ask if I could move the creeping Passion Fruit vine gripping the door's screen to keep the plant from getting damaged.  Her blood starts boiling and her voice starts rising and she storms over to the vine she admires each day from the kitchen window and rips it from the door. "Isn't that what you wanted ! There!" And she yanks the rest of the vine from the wall and I say I just wanted to move it off the screen but she's not listening and says I'm killing her and if I don't find someplace else to live her brain will explode and that's going to be it and I better move. It's a minefield talking with her and I decide I shouldn't so I keep quiet to keep her calm and hopefully the blood pressure won't elevate over 150 because it's been over 220 at times this year with trips to the emergency room and I'd relax if it would decrease to 120 or lower and she'd feel better too. So I go back to bottling and just concentrate on that because bottling is the cross I bear during the Easter Season and there's nothing to do but face it and confront it head on because this 2011 Tempranillo wine is the first Tempranillo we've made from our 5-year old vines that's the whole package. The winemaker himself is pleased.  Fruit and nose and mouth-feel and tannins; beginning, middle and end -- a winemaker's trinity. Amen.

Not a word for 10 minutes as the Enolmatic bottling machine hums and bottles clank against the hand-power corker. Pull lever down to compress the cork then ram it into the bottle. Swish. Don't let glass hit the steel or that ping will set her off again. Pull. Swish.

"You have to be a little bit "crazy" to be a genius," she said in Japanese, referring to Woody Allen.

"That's why I'm kawate-iru" I say and the dog's ears prick up at the sound of her blood pressure dropping and she explodes into laughter and I've come out the other side of the minefield, this time. I lift up my cross and restart the bottling. She goes to the vineyard to talk with the vines. Bluey stays by my side under the table, waiting for drops of spilled wine.

Ten hours later after the bottling is finished and I'm blending the new wines I have a vision - winemaking is an art - a thought I've never had but I'm feeling it now and the expression of growing, crushing, pressing, blending this wine (and the little touches, tweaks, experience and skill required) is not unlike an artist.  Making wine is just painting without paint. Sculpting without clay. Poetry without rhymes. Then the image of Penelope Cruz painting a canvas with broad, fluent strokes in "Vickie Christina Barcelona"  comes into my head and since I'm creating a work of art from Tempranillo, the famous grape of Spain, why should I not dream of making it for the Spanish actress and the thought of making this wine for her lightens the burden and I smile. I will bear this cross joyfully. Don Quixote and his Dulcinea.

You're not jealous at the thought of Penelope Cruz as my winemaking inspiration are you?  It was just a fleeting daydream during a long day and evening of repetitive, manual labor. Now that the bottling is done and I survived and the wine is safely in the bottles and tastes good it's back to reality and as I'm out thinning, watering, weeding the vines and preparing to rack the blush wine, the simple fact is that I'm writing this for you, making this wine for you. Yes you. No, you're not being vain. This is for you and it's giving new purpose and pleasure to the toil of winemaking. I aspire to make wine that will change your life as you have changed mine. Although the art you inspire will not last as long as a painting or a classic novel, at least you can smell, taste and drink it. Thank you for amusing me, you Muse.

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