winemaking with children



Back home in California...we were invited out to the foothills for the kids to make some dizzy juice.  This is probably our equivalent of being towed on the ice behind someone's car; a distinct regional opportunity that not everyone partakes in, but it's thrilling & special & feels grown-up.  When I was a kid we'd go to a small farm owned by one of my Pop's fellow firefighters, Bob, his lovely wife & son.  We were inner-city kids.  His place was a totally handmade fantasy-land, filled with awesome & unlikely things like  goats, sunflowers, hammocks & a jacuzzi tower.  The grown-ups would spend the day picking grapes & fussing over the potluck spread, while us kids ran all-over the barn, climbed the loft & ogled at the treehouse where someone was actually living. (!!)  At night there'd be a band & we would get to siphon wine from the barrels into bottles through a tube that required one big nasty/naughty suck to get started.   It was sweet. 
























One thing I love about intergenerational communities is the opportunities for diverse experiences like this.  The bittersweet part it how it's always a unique experience, never to be recreated.  Bob now has Alzheimer's, his son is of course, grown, & his now ex-wife is caring for him from her property across the way.  In my mind, the band still plays, & a part of me is still running through the fields, hands full of grapes & crackers.


This family has been making wine for several years & was committed to having the kids experience every part of the process.  The learning in this kind of setting is so mind-boggling to me: Quite separate from the science of measuring the grape sugars, learning the fermenting & disinfecting processes, exploring the gears & machinery & the art of taking turns, is the chance to play with learning mentors.  To engage with elders playing full-out at something they're really into, & have been into for a while is a rare opportunity in our country.  We were watching the couple who invited us & their dear friend dialogue over whether or not to press the last bit of "cake," if there would be too many tannins at that point to make good wine.  


I asked the husband, "Was she a hot homesteader when you met her?"  He replied with the biggest smile ever, "Yes."


And there you have it.  Another lesson of what it looks like to be in love.  Sheesh.  I could just go on & on about that.  To be in love with a hobby & in love with the land & in love with your family & in love with your partner.  It doesn't look like an easy life.  It looks like a good life.  I'm paying lots of attention.