Sunday, June 01, 2008


We won our first awards - three silver medals, and two Best in Categories from the HVWGA dinner. The event was held at the CIA in Hyde Park, NY. The site of an old monastery, the CIA is the Hogwartz of the food world - both by reputation and by the looks of the neo-classical/medieval architecture. The student dinning room is the old formal chapel - it looks like something out of Harry Potter.

The awards were held in the St. Andrews Room, and the wine (as expected) and the food were fantastic. The room was packed with winemakers. And I felt weird for two reasons. Firstly, I was without my wife and partner, Dominique. She is the vineyard manger, and she babies and pushes our fruit growing plants to death. She works like a dog. But because of many cancelled little league games this year, three make up games were scheduled in our home town of Freehold. Dominique decided she would stay, and I was elected to go to the dinner, make the farmer's market the next morning, and then run the winery on Saturday and Sunday. I was in fact sad she was not there to share to moment, especially with such a great honor in the valley.

The second reason that I felt uncomfortable was that I had attended meetings before, mostly with a writer's interest, since I write about wine. However, this time I was attending first as a winemaker. We still feel a little like outsiders, though the winemakers in the valley could not have been more helpful, especially with people like Mike Migliore and John Huddleson, Steve Osborn, Doug Glorie, and Steve Casccels. Still, we're beginners, and we don't even think of ourselves being in the same class as Millbrook, Brotherhood, Whitecliff, and others. We think we make good wine, but those wineries produce ten times more than us. And our doors haven't even been open a full year. All the more why we were humbled by the awards.
The evening was a wonderful success. I went up, accepted our three medals, and told the crowd I wished my wife was there, got a quick chuckle at the expense of my children's baseball acumen, and quickly resumed my seat. I had a fabulous time talking to the other winemakers, hearing stories from the veterans, and drinking great Hudson Valley wines. The partying with friends ended late in the evening, drinking one of Steve Casccels 1993 Baco Noirs from his personal cellar with his wife Lilly, late at night.
The next morning, I got up, packed the car, and worked the Hudson Farmer's Market until 1pm, despite some lack-luster weather. Then I came back to the winery, and ran the tasting bar until 5:30pm. After that, I unpacked the station wagon of the farm market contents, labeled more wine, because we were light on some stock, closed up and drove out to check in on our new vineyard out in Old Kinderhook. I grabbed some gas and some McDonalds, and was home by 9pm.

The next day, Sunday morning was beautiful, and the farm looked gorgeous. But I couldn't face spending yet another day away fro my family - especially one so pretty. With someone else coming to open the winery on Sunday, I chucked it, and decided I would surprise my family by going home early.

I drove the NY State Thruway and the Garden State Parkway as fast as was possible, thinking about how great it would be to come home to my loving family. I would be like "A Man and a Woman" meets "Little House on the Prairie." Not!
I pulled into my driveway. The boys and my wife were stunned. I got surprised hellos and a nice greeting. My wife kissed me. But it was short lived. My family was in full gear, Dominique being in spring cleaning mode. The were cleaning out closets and toy chests. There were hrrrumphs. And my wife saying, "Let's go!" And I had to hit the ground running. After chores, we had a brief baseball catch. Now the boys are off to a birthday party, and I'm home in New Jersey, with my computer, alone with the dogs asleep at my feet (the tranquility of which temporarily ruined by my gaseous animals). Not quite the soft focus reunion I envisioned....but still, I am happy to be home (which is where ever my wife and kids, and two troublesome dogs are).


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