From Vine to Wine
My husband's hobby stems from the hills of Moravia where his uncle has a wine cellar filled with his wine. The climate in Czech, much less humid, produces a nicely flavored wine. The hills of Eger, Hungary further south have some of the sweetest whites making their famous Tokaj in three levels of fine dessert wine. My husband enjoys reds. He grows the whites for me.
Virginia brings the sun, heat, growing season - everything a grape needs to arrive at the right level of sugar for harvest. Virginia brings mildew, Japanese beetles, black rot in a heightened fashion. Virginia creates a challenge.
Self-taught, my husband grooms and coaxes the land. He watches and protects as his crop of a hundred vines begin to swell, the skins showing fullness. This year the whites, like Traminette, struggled and had to be taken early. Only five gallons produced. The reds, his Chambourcin did much better. Ten gallons pressed using the vintage wine press he restored. My friend had the press holding plants and dirt as a decoration. We traded a saddle for the press and my husband's surprise at his birthday told me I did good.
Growing grapes for wine takes time. The real challenge begins once the harvest has been pulled. Last year, a bad year for reds, the five gallons stayed in the carboy till our son's graduation from college in May 2020: the worst possible year to celebrate any monumental achievement or rite of passage. We sat outside, al fresco with his best friend's family and enjoyed lasagna and my husband's wine. Moravia has flavorful wine, but this batch, the batch that stayed in the same carboy thinking about life for months staying at just the right temperature, was a fine, fine tasting wine. The color rich and deep and the flavor rival of any I have had in France or from California. When the remaining wine was bottled separately after the dinner, however, and stored in individual bottles the flavor changed.
Richness comes from staying together, blending together taking time together. Depth of character develops through time spent soaking up the essence of each other's pressed goodness. The same is true of us as a people.
Father Robert Capon wrote, "God makes wine. Only the ungrateful or the purblind can fail to see that sugar in the grape and yeast on the skins is a divine idea, not a human one." We will grow in goodness and grace, when we recognize through thankfulness the divine in coming together, working together, sweetening the hardships together, and ultimately being pressed together, so we have something more than ourselves of value to offer the world. May our lives be like a fine wine from vine to the table for all to enjoy.