It’s been a light cooking week; which I appreciate from time to time, because the best meal is always the one that you don’t have to make.
I’ve recently been tinkering away at a personal essay called, “Impoverished and wine;” which depicts the wine country lifestyles and hardships of many (myself included). I’m going to use pieces of it as a vehicle to tell a story about this last week.
This is how we do: pick a destination and bring a bottle of wine.
A good friend of mine had his family in town for the week and they rented a house just south of town, on the northern tip of Russian River Valley. They offered up a little bit of mid-western hospitality, something I’m becoming more and more familiar with, with a roommate from Michigan and a friend from Illinois. Our troop of friends was invited to the house for dinner, and all we had to do was bring wine – which is never a problem.
Food and wine act as a binding agent, all-encompassing ingredients that can bring friends, family and strangers together. Stories are swapped and shared as bottles are emptied. My buddy Tej discussed football with a man he just met, Mark’s mom talked about trips to China when Mark was a kid, and wines were swirled and sniffed and explored.
It was just another night in wine country…
It’s true, we live in a beautiful place, in God’s country; a magical place with rolling hills dotted with vineyards; in a small town full of three and four star restaurants, where wine flows like water. But it’s not all luxurious wine country living. Working in the wine industry doesn’t afford us a life of luxury. Many of us live on a beer budget, living beyond our means, struggling to pay our bills. Our modest jobs should translate into modest lives, and while nearly every aspect of our life is rigorously meek, our palates are regularly wet with world-class wines.
And therein lies the comical paradox – living in this beautiful place with amazing wines, living the life that so many desire, and yet we can hardly afford to put gas in our tanks. The free wine is just a perk of the industry. And while gulping down glassfuls of wine from some of the best wineries in the world is common, we do so modestly. I’m often asked if I take this place for granted because I grew up here. I feel quite the opposite however. I’m reminded every day of the many reasons why I love my life here.
For one week these kind mid-western folk lived the wine country lifestyle; everything from tasting wine to crushing grapes, and staying in a picturesque house nestled in the vineyards. They opened up their house to us and we offered up wine, so for if only a night, we could both share in a more lavish life than we are accustomed to.
The camaraderie among my group of friends is extraordinary. We regularly gather and temporarily forget about our student loans and credit card debt over a few bottles of wine. We forget about working paycheck to paycheck while we pursue our careers in writing, in graphic design, in winemaking. All we can do is get by. We get by with what we have. We have wine; but more importantly, we have each other.