Monday, July 21, 2008


Getting up Sunday morning hurt - I mean really hurt. After lifting heavy boxes for two days in a row, my old, weathered body was feeling the blows. My head ached from the constant heat, and my back and knees were stiff. Who's idea was this? I asked myself.

We showered and packed quickly and bid a fond farewell to the Quality Inn on Route 414. It was just two creaky old beds and a serviceable bathroom with air conditioning - but I'll always think of it as home.

I found my trusty festival winery staff badge and clipped it to my shirt, and we were off to buy milk and doughnuts - ahh, the Breakfast of Chmpions! (John Belushi-style, anyway)

Sunday morning it was rainy. It was coming down hard, and the Festival grounds at Watkins Glenn International Speedway looked anything but festive due to the inclement weather.

This is my favorite place. This is the bridge underneath which you need to pass through. But RVs have to go down the middle of it, becasue it's so small and rounded. It can be a real pain in the neck. Especially when you're tired and grumpy in the morning.

The tents did not look jovial nor were they fun. But the crowds came anyway. Bless them! Around 10 a.m. people started drifting in. business was brisk the first few hours, as all the tasters who took notes the day before did their early morning shopping before Sunday's revelers arrived. By noon the place was hopping. And the weather seemed to lighten up. It was cooler and not as hot inside the tents.

Friends of ours stopped by the booth. Peter Becraft (from Anthony Road) and Cary M. Becraft (chocolatier, owner of CaryMo Chocolate - She makes great chocolates. This is their new baby. Congrats to the Becrafts. Cary is going to make a special selection chocolate - from our own maple syrup - for the winery.

Some Freehold, New Jersey friends also stopped by - Jean Holtz and her husband Jack. They have a place up in the Finger Lakes. They saw our friend Matt Weismantel who was helping me. We all talked for a little, but it was crazy. Thanks for stopping by, guys!

Matt was a mad man, selling everything from our wines and ports, to maple syrup. Matt is a long time friend, and he came cheap - I fed him and got him a room, and he worked like a dog for nothing. That's a good friend. I just hope he doesn't report me to the New York State Department of Labor for workplace abuses. Thanks a lot for everything, Matt!

After a while, there was an announcement. The loud speakers blared around 4:15 that the sheriff's department and NY State Troopers were issuing a 15 minute emergency exit command, due to an on-comming violent thunderstorm, with excessive wind gusts. I ran to the parking lot in the rain, as it was now starting to hit, and drove our SUV to the back of the tent amidst the refugee-styled throngs that were exiting the tent areas. It was like a scene from The Year of Living Dangerously. I got to the tent and we packed the truck in the rain in fifteen-minutes, and we were out of there.

It was 4 1/2 hours back to the farm, and to my wife Dominique, my two sons, Dylan and Dawson, and our two dogs. I was never so happy to be home and we all went to bed ealry.

One festival down - five to go.

Who's idea was this?


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