Yesterday Geoff H. picked me up at Trips for Kids under the freeway, loaded my road ‘ham on his lockable roof-rack, and whisked out to Fairfield, the town everyone confuses with Fairfax. It’s 50 miles away, usually an arduous drive in any sort of fine weekend weather.
We pulled into a small metal barn flanking a little vineyard with six year old vines (my guess), some of which were sagging with stunning, densely packed purple berries. I know, they’re not berries, they are drupes.
We were 40 minutes early, and got to watch Abe Schoener, the dreamer-upper of the Scholium Project, fork-lifting barrels onto pallets.
A huge ceramic good-luck kitty tipped over and shattered (not for the first time, according to Abe)…”goodby, Kitty” I said to no one in particular.
There were two old grape presses, the bladder-filled rotating type, where the juice drips into trays underneath, and groggy bees do the backstroke when they discover the aroma…
It wasn’t a long 40 minutes, and we got some details about the ‘rush’ from a couple of young interns who were at that thrilling point in life when they try a few different directions…
The small (dozen or so) crowd assembled and Abe let us sample first some “Ruthlessness of Brutus” or something…sorry, LSB Le Severita di Brutto (a real back-stabber?), cloudy pale urine color, heavenly in flavor.
Then out popped the corks. We were tasting wine that had been in the bottle a week or less. Mr. Schoener is fond of trying different timings, ingredients (leave stems on! Skins on! Skins off! Drop and give me fifty!) and absolutely no wine blending… ok, except for the Tower of Babylon, which has five types of grape in it.
I will let the experts fill you in on more…
We left full of cheer and extremely high quality vino. I tried a few times to spit a little out (to mimic the others, and pretend restraint) but by the end I was trying to switch glasses with GH because he was routinely getting a more generous pour (probably because us ladies metabolize wine differently), and I WANTED more.
When it was over, I was impressed with how well the vintner knew his small gaggle of acolytes and aco-heavies. As a brand-newbie, I’d tried a few times to find a question so stupid that he wouldn’t be obliged to chirp, “That is a really good question” (this HAS to be a holdover from his St. John’swort College teaching days).
Even “do you have kids?” wasn’t pointless enough.
I mentioned that the banana smell that is often found in certain stages of fermentation is from amyl acetate which made him think I might be a microbiologist…”No” I said sorrowfully (still ashamed of never grasping Organic Chemistry or Physics). “A bike racer”.
At which he launched into how much he loves to ride, and that he knows Fairfax well, and likes Tamarancho…I realized that this guy has the dilettante bug even more than I….and I don’t have 144 bottles of wine to show for my life on earth…