Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Country Road, Take me Home

This past weekend found me bidding adieu to yet another place I had grown very comfortable with, maybe I had even loved. My time at the winery has come to a close not but 5 months after I stepped into the vineyards.

The beginning of the end was last week when all of us from the winery headed up to the Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima valley of Washington state for an end of the year harvest send off. You can see some of Owen Roe's vineyards here. Red Willow is home not only to the oldest vines in Washington state but also to the most photographed site in all of Washington vineyards, their beautiful chapel. Keeping with the traditions of the old world, Red Willow has a chapel at the highest point in their vineyard. Many, if not most vineyards in Europe have a chapel or a Crucifix or a cross at the highest point in the vineyard. To remind them who the true keeper of the vineyard is. We enjoyed burgers made from a cow they had been feeding only organic grass and kept free range and then got an extensive tasting of all the wines we made from Red Willow through the years. We tasted the life of the vineyard, the ups and downs of each vintage through the past decade. The vineyard owners gave us an extensive tour of the vineyard so we could see how the morning and afternoon sun hits the grapes and how that influences sugar levels and pH.

Friday was my final day. I spent it much like I spent many other days, washing barrels and cleaning up the winery. One by one, many of my co-workers came up to me to say goodbye and that they would miss me. I fear I've gone and done it again, gotten very close to people in a state very far away. And then gone and left. When people ask me why I was leaving I told them that "I was born a ramblin' man. Trying to make a living and doing the best I can. When it comes time for leaving I hope you'll understand. That I was born a rambling man."

After work we all headed out to HUB brewery in Portland for a goodbye round of drinks. Almost everyone I met in Oregon showed up. Even the mighty Berlin showed up, in all of his glory. He told the best stories, as usual. Berlin used to be in a popular band that toured the country. One tour, his manager was holding out on all of them with their tour money allowances. So, this angered the band members to the point where they were going to track down their manager and get the money they were owed. The band was going to the bathroom when all the sudden they smelled hot dogs. So, they busted down the stall door to find the band manager eating hot dogs on the toilet. That's when they got their money. It was quite a sad goodbye for me, leaving Berlin, who I had worked the night shift with during the peak of harvest. You get to know someone pretty well when you press 500 gallons of wine with them at 3 in the morning.

Owen Roe was a unique working experience. I probably will never meet families as truly generous and genuine as the Owens and the O'Reillys. I will probably never work with people as funny as Berlin, Jeff, and Matt again, nor a group as talented as the cellar crew at Owen Roe. But, as I told all of them before I left, I wouldn't be upset at all if I was meant to end up as a wine maker in Oregon, but I don't think it is where the Lord intends for me to end up. But, I've been wrong before. Once.

Stephen, my housemate, and Lucy took me to the airport and we said our goodbyes. I told them that we Catholics don't really say goodbye. I told them, as I tell all of my departed Catholic brethren, "I'll see you when I see you." Sooner rather than later, I hope.


Well the work's gotten slow
So where's a boat man to go?
I think I'll float
on down
to Richmond

They don't need us any more
hauling freight from shore to shore
that big iron does much more
than we ever could before

So I'll be steppin out tonight
On the cool flow
Floatin' down
down below
The bridge to the waters edge
From the ridge to the ledge
From the hills to the sea
I'll become a memory.



John said...

I dare to ask what you've been wrong about before.

I bet I know. I bet it was when you thought you could take me. Instead, you received the worst atomic wedgie of your life. Am I right?

John said...

P.S. Call me back, you bum. I know you're not working anymore. What could possibly be the problem?!?

Anonymous said...

One thing we can all agree on...the 70's produced the best music ever.

Thank you Allman Brothers for cruisin' down Highway 41!!