As the Barrel Turns...
I have always been a dreamer. I often daydream about starting one venture or another. However, If I overanalyze an idea enough, the urge will pass. Most of my ideas are labor intensive and I ultimately decide that they are probably not profitable. Sometimes, I try something just for fun; just to see if I can do it. Then I am satisfied and move on to the next big adventure. Evaluating these ideas has become a hobby. Clinton told me once that I was the only person he knew who took pleasure by thinking of new “work” projects. Most people dreamed of relaxing on a tropical island with nothing to do but eat lobster and drink rum drinks day after day. Yeah, right. Who wants that?
I think it was the fall of 2003 when the idea came to me. I was considering Christmas ideas. An ad for a beer kit caught my eye. Hummm, how would Anne take it if I gave her a kit to make homemade beer for Christmas? Yeah, even I know the answer to that question. But, I looked into it anyway. My research led me to wine making kits. I found that I could make a wine similar to one that we liked. After some brief justification, I decided that Anne would appreciate the end product. Merry Christmas, Anne.
Her curiosity was almost untamable when she saw all of the boxes and packages wrapped in disguise. When she finally got to open them, well you guessed it. She looked at me and said, “You expect me to start making wine?” She was disappointed. It reminded me of the time I gave her a Marlin 30-30 rifle for an anniversary present. She missed the point. I was giving her the wine, not the kit! After all these years, she still remembers it her way.
I made the wine and it was good. It was very good. I made more. I made wine regularly and made new friends by doing so. People were fascinated about my new hobby. They asked about it and thought I was smart or creative or something. We all like some attention every now and then if it is positive attention. Sharing my hobby was fulfilling and rewarding. Our friends liked my wines (or at least they acted like it) which helped to perpetuate the venture. Sharing my hobby with family and friends made me feel special. It made me feel like I was sharing something a bit unique or out of the ordinary.
Over the years we included wine more and more with our evening meals. As the children came of age, they tried a bit here and there. We came to realize that by pouring a glass of Merlot with our lasagna, or a Cabernet with our steak made the meal more special. It turned something ordinary into something special.
I picked grapes, bought juice, and tried making wine from apple juice which flopped. I Poured out bad wine more often that I like to admit. Each year, Bob would share grapes from his Merlot harvest. I brought my must home to East Texas and we consulted over phone calls. We compared acidity, SO2, yeasts, fermentation time, color extraction and other things that sounded good. More than once we thought we knew what we were doing until we tasted it. I consider those early attempts as the “learning curve”. As I poured out yet another batch of bad wine, the foxes and other wildlife that roam our neighborhood got drunk once again. They looked forward to the event. Sometimes, I see them at dusk looking longingly at the back door just hoping.
For better or worse, wine became a part of my identity. We enjoyed visiting wineries and tasting rooms. We tasted wine from the West Coast to the East Coast, from Canada to Mexico, and in Europe. Many discussions with friends or new acquaintances included the topic in some fashion.
Anne often reminded me in her gentle way of how much time and money I was putting into my hobby. I made the wine at home in our laundry room. She did not appreciate losing her countertop space for sorting and folding clothes. Once again she saw it all wrong. I was not making wine in her laundry room. Instead, she was doing the laundry in my winery!
Whenever Anne was ready to complain about the inconvenience or the expense, I would just pour her another glass. I knew how she really felt because she never let a new visitor to our home leave without a tour of the wine stash and current vinting effort.