I know, I know… you are wondering how that phrase relates to wine…. But it does, really.
See, back in 2003, Kevin and I, along with our friends Richard and Charles and Maggie made a trip to Napa to celebrate Richard’s 40th Birthday. We hired a driver, Grant, who made wine in his garage and he drove us around to the lesser known vineyards that he enjoyed. Around lunchtime, we stopped at a local market picked up some food and then headed up Howell Mountain.
When we got to our destination, we were at the Summit Lake Winery. There we were met by Sue Brakesman one of the owners of this vineyard. Sue sat us down at her dining room table and while we ate she talked to us about her wine, her winery and her family… because really all three were tied together.
See, the deed to the vineyard was given to Sue in her birthday card… from her husband Bob. So the next available weekend they went up look at their new vineyard. The plan was that it would be a romantic getaway and Sue dressed for it… The problem was that it snowed, and the house had no heat and Sue’s heels were deep in the mud. That was the beginning of the great adventure that only ended with Sue’s sudden death a couple of years ago.
Over the years, Bob and Sue cleared the weeds and poison oak from the abandoned (during prohibition) zinfandel vines and started producing wine… and a family. One day while trying to get her grand daughters bathed, one questioned why they needed to take a bath… Sue tried to explain that cleanliness was next to godliness… to which her grand daughter exclaimed, “We’re getting naked for Jesus!” According to Sue, this was a phrase that inspired her to liven up the talks that she increasingly gave to potential buyers of her wine. While off-putting, it was a way to shake up the way to think about wine.
Family was important to Sue and she loved being a grandmother. In fact their best vintages were named for her grand daughters… Emily Kestrel… a very tasty wine and then every one’s favorite. Clair Riley… Maybe it is just the story. But then that was the thing with Sue, she saw the humour in everything… When asking Sue whether she would have a wine named after her, Clair Riley, misinterpreted the answer… instead of being Clair Riley Private Reserve, she squealed in delight and shrieked in that toddler screech, “PIRATE RESERVE?!”
Well, what is a grandma to do? Naturally, the label was changed to Pirate Reserve. That wine is several years old now… and we are still waiting for an event exciting enough to enjoy it.
But that is the thing with wine. It makes us remember the time and place where we first enjoyed it. Making us wish to return to the past but still enjoying the future.