Note from Home: Rooted in Connections
December 1, 2020 11:08
The other day I was helping out with the curbside pick-up of our November Wine Club Selections. Club members pulled up to the cellar door and drove away with their orders. It was one of those truly beautiful fall days here in Dry Creek Valley. Blue skies, warm sun and the autumn color in the Mother Clone vineyard just across the way made the afternoon so perfect. It made me think back to how many friends have stopped by to pick up wine over the decades from my grandfather then my father. I was struck by the thought that we all share a love of wine and, like the vines in front of me, are in turn connected to each other, even generationally.
I have written about grapevines and their physiology before. Lance, my brother-in-law and the vineyard manager, has compared vines to people when he talks about how they respond to heat-they wilt like we do, they seek to protect the crop by slightly moving to shade the fruit like an umbrella. I have heard how some vines have roots that measure 40 feet because they are looking for water to survive. They like to branch out too-sometimes almost too much as the canopy above becomes jungle-like before the vineyard crew works at managing the growth. The vines even need a drink of water after they are done with harvest. Sounds to me like there are some similarities!
Last weekend it was nice to see old friends and new. The experience reminded me of those Mother Clone vines-how their roots go deep to establish a well-connected network. That system supports and sustains the vines throughout the growing season and over the years. A natural benefit of making wine for 90 years and sharing with everyone, from neighbors to across the nation and globally, creates the bond between us and you. Our wine club is another way we stay in touch and is how we remain connected. At the tasting room there is the exchange of conversation, the fun of finding something you like, and sharing with friends and family. Once home we are connected whether by phone or through these emails or virtual events.
While the vineyards are immune to COVID they do progress through the fall and into the winter by being connected to the seasons, to the climate and the soil in which they are planted. These are vital to the life of the vineyard. Connection is what we look for as the nights get longer and winter looms. Something about the chill in the air makes us seek out those warm places-usually a pub, a restaurant or coffee house. Right now we are finding out how cozy our kitchen table, living room or dining room is as we find those places are right in our own homes.
Of course, there are many ways we can stay connected. The usual suspects include the phone calls, emails, letters, virtual visits. As the days continue to get shorter and the holidays approach we look to these relationships-those branches reaching out to connect with our past, present and future. Music, wine, politics, food, outdoor activities, quilting, play groups for kids or dogs. As long as we keep our eyes open and see those around us-distanced or not-we are rooted, like the vines, and connected.
Note from Home: Taking the Long View
December 1, 2020 10:58
I was talking to some folks this week about my grandparents and what they would think about the pandemic. I imagined them saying ‘we made it through some great challenges in the early days, we think you can outlast the current crisis.’ They took the long view knowing they staked everything to make the move and created a legacy.
I often wonder what went through their minds when they bought the property in 1927. First, and most importantly, it became a home to raise the family and to support them. Prohibition had already gone on for 8 years, surely it will end soon (not for another six years). The economy would hold up wouldn’t it? Nope the Great Depression began 2 years later. Many obstacles met this young family and they adapted to their conditions: expanded the farm to provide food (my grandmother made her own cheese for instance and preserved foods to get through the winter); my grandfather developed a network of buyers (head of households who could apply for a permit) for the grapes in order to keep the vineyard going, they worked as a family in the vineyard and later the cellar, and they tightened their belts to get by once the hard times hit.
Feel a little familiar? Taking the long view is something we do naturally here at Pedroncelli. Taking the long view from the beginning helped my grandparents get through the tough times including the challenges along with the ups and downs of the economy with a recession thrown into the mix every few years (there have been 12 since 1945).
And now we have a pandemic. I guess one needs to come around once a century to keep us on our toes. So how do we take the long view of something predicted to go on for another six months or so?
I read a great quote in the paper the other day, “My kind of mantra going into the holiday season is that when it comes to COVID, it’s not what you do, but how you do it,” says Iahn Gonsenhauser, an internist and the chief quality and patient safety officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. This is good advice for the holidays and beyond.
It’s not what you do but how you do it. Keep this in mind as the state and nation urge us to keep within our bubbles, to wear our masks, to keep our distance physically. The other side of this is finding ways to celebrate the big and small occasions, how to connect if we are far from someone we love, how to make each day count instead of counting how many days the pandemic has gone on or how long we have to go.
Living this life of wine, blessed with two generations behind me and 2 generations ahead of me, frames my outlook on life. While what my grandparents did to get through the difficult times wasn’t glamorous or fun they made it through. It is how they did it-with hope for the future and looking to better days ahead. For me those better days include family meals, going to a favorite restaurant, travel, wine club gatherings, tasting events, hugging, hanging out and seeing all of you-with a glass of wine in my hand of course!
Note from Home: Reflecting Thanks
November 26, 2020 10:16
Reflection on the year, as it winds down to less than six weeks before we celebrate a new one, seems to begin with the Thanksgiving holiday. I think we can all agree it has been an unusual year with the pandemic, the challenges met and answered in homeschooling, the workplace, the harvest and beyond.
I like the word reflection. It is a rich and deep word with 9 meanings according to Google and Merriam Webster. Reflections in a mirror show us who we are, as is. Inner reflection guides us and requires us to take time to think things through. Reflection of light, maybe through the autumn leaves or straight on sunlight, means there is a source and a receiver. Reflecting on this year has me thankful for so much.
I am thankful for our safety, both family and staff, from the virus as well as from the fires.
I am thankful for the heroic first responders including those working in the medical field, fire and police departments. All are brave and deserve our thanks for doing their utmost to protect us.
I am thankful to have welcomed a new grandson this year and to watch him grow by leaps and bounds as well as spend time with our other two virtually and in person.
I am thankful for my husband’s sense of humor because frankly I need it most of the time. Most of the time.
I am thankful for the ability to connect electronically with people I’d have missed seeing this year due to travel restrictions.
I am thankful for all of you who have responded to the many notes from home I have sent over the last few months. I am determined to see this pandemic out with a note to you each week.
How do you make giving thanks tangible or visible? How do we reflect thanks? Lizzy, from our tasting room, had a great idea for a Gratitude Vine where guests could fill out a tag and add it to the branches. We have hundreds of them over time.
Even though you can’t come and fill out your own tag here you can create your own ‘vine’ at home. Branch out and send a simple ‘thank you for being a friend’ note (both Ed and I have been the recipient of notes from our friend Barb-over the last 25 years!). Give thanks around the table or virtually. Donate your time or money and the ripple effect benefits both you and the recipient. There are so many ways to show thankfulness. The best part is it keeps on giving, uplifting others by reaching out and in turn you are uplifted too. In times like these it is thankfulness that helps us through each day.
Thank you for reading and I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
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