If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve heard it before. My apologies for the redundancy, but when you get a few minutes to join the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge with a topic already partially prewritten, you jump on it.
How do I love wine?
Let me count the ways.
How did I begin loving wine?
Let me count the ways.
Was it a college boyfriend? His Cornell Oenology class opened his eyes, he opened mine.
Was it my first trip to Italy? The obligatory jugs at every meal gave way to long chats in a narrow enoteca in Assisi, comparing bottles.
Those were preludes to a visit to Sonoma. The first time my eyes were truly opened was in Kenwood, the barnwood walls and doors seemed to draw closer, the only people in the room were me and my tasting attendant. “Yes, I smell blueberry. Wow, that completely changes the wine. How is it so different? It is the same grape?” I was hooked.
That visit turned into many more, the comparing and pairing continued. I began to pay a lot more attention. The variables in grape, price point, characteristics I liked and didn’t like. And then came the announcement.
I hadn’t written anything creatively in years. Not since the tumultuous relationship of my 20s with the distant artist type. But I found the right catalyst.
My 2 yr old daughter was watching Elmo, my 3 month old son was sleeping. Browsing Facebook (a SAHMs only social outlet some days) I came upon a poetry contest that was being held by Gundlach Bundschu, one of our favorite wineries in Sonoma. The history of this estate vineyard is amazing. Some of my best memories in Sonoma are at Rhinefarm so it was easy to find inspiration.
I reflected on our visits there. Newlyweds, no responsibilities, fine wine, blue teeth. Now, we were lucky to get to open a bottle of their wine and remember… I figured I had about 15 minutes so I knocked out a few stanzas (the 152 word limit) and would revisit it when the fog cleared from another sleepless night. A few tweaks later, I sent it off. What could it hurt?
It didn’t hurt anything. Instead, it healed. It reminded me that there was a me before diapers, nightfeeds, dishes, and dustpans. A me that was an okay writer once upon a time. A me that could capture a sentiment in words, even if only for myself. I received third place in the contest, but really I received much more than that.
Another year, another poetry contest.
Now, every year, the fine folks at GB take some of their lucky members on a “revel.” They take a city by storm and explore, eat, drink, and generally make merry. This year, they were going to be in Austin. Yee haw!!!! Even though we weren’t members at the time, we were invited to attend. While corresponding about the luncheon, the super wonderful marketing director dropped the-“we look forward to your entry this year” bomb. Yikes! What would I write about this time? I had already written my emotional response to GB wines…now what? Maybe I couldn’t write anything worth reading again, but, I had to at least send in something. So, I got to work.
I began by reading the history of the family and the winery. It is an amazing story, inspiring, for sure, but I was still not sure of the angle. Then I read about the vine cycle and couldn’t help but make the connection between the phases of growth and hardships, changes, and legacies at Rhinefarm (the Gundlach Bundschu estate). That would be my approach. With only 153 words to work with, I wasn’t able to talk about every generation or every event in the vine cycle, but in the end, it told the story I was hoping it would. I was hoping they’d like it. They did indeed.
From there, the writing continued, and with it, my desire to continue learning on the topic. I attended Blind tastings, comparative variety tastings, local wineries, read blogs, articles. Which led me here. An awakening from the stay-at-home-mom slumber, a path to new friendships, opportunities I could only dream of.
Now, five years after I began writing, I have gotten a Level Two certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Some letters to give me some credibility with my readers, but more importantly, myself.