Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunrise, Sunset ~ Life and Death on the Wine Trail

How wonderful this world of wine can be, if only in our mind’s eye. Earlier this month I was leaving wine country in California, heading back to the airport. It was early morning, the dew on the vines twinkled like Christmas lights. There was a dense but beautiful fog that isolated figures in the landscape. One of the old majestic eucalyptus trees, a farm house, a fruit stand, a tractor. It was was so deliciously lovely that I almost stopped my car to take some pictures. There was this unforgettable fog caressing the foothills, leaving Yountville and heading south on Hwy 29. I don’t know why I didn’t take the time to stop.

A few minutes later I saw red lights on the other side of the highway. As I slowed down I saw ambulances and police cars and two cars which had been in an accident. One car had been completely destroyed. Surely someone in that car didn’t survive.

As it turns out, earlier that morning, a drunk driver was driving in the same direction as I was, crossed over the barrier and ended the life of some poor soul in the other car. He didn’t live to see the sun rise. The driver will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

I say this because we have these kinds of events in our lives all the time. In the wine world, in many of the vineyards, there were horrendous battles. Blood poured onto the vineyards in Tuscany, Piedmont, Alto Adige and elsewhere in France, Germany, Span and Portugal.

Now we take pictures of our trophies and post them on Facebook or Instagram or Delectable. We snap a selfie in front of that most unobtainable of red Burgundies. A mere 70 years earlier, people were starving in those vineyards, eating bugs and rocks just to stay alive.

As we gather in the next few days with our friends and families and we eat and drink special things, take a moment to remember how it was we got here and how infinitesimally fortunate we are to have the time and the freedom to enjoy wine and food and presents with our loved ones. There are plenty of places on earth where this isn’t the normal course of events. There are still wars being waged in many parts of the world. Just take a moment and give thanks. Happy Holidays.

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