Only the Stones

There is a song of the Cheyenne people that I came across in a library book my son and I were sharing for our nightly story time.  The song was a mantra during times of sickness, or before going into battle.  It was a song to bring strength and remind us of both our mortality and our potential for greatness in our lives.

cheyenne

My friends,

Only the stones

Stay on earth forever.

Use your best ability.

I’m pausing.  I almost want to just leave it here for each reader to ruminate and cultivate their own thoughts.  But as is often the case, so many of my “life” moments overflow into my “wine” moments and this one is no exception.  Pour yourself a healthy size sip here and please be obliged to continue.

The sauce and I have spent the last couple of weeks doing some promotional work for Falling Bright through guest spots on a few local (and national…and international) radio programs.  On most occasions when we are interviewed about our professional backgrounds and our thoughts on wine and other trivia we receive a lot of questions such as…how do you choose wines for your collection?  Those wines that are so expensive, are they really worth that much?  Can you taste the difference?  Do scores matter?  And you get the point.  My interpretation of this line of questioning from the wine consumer’s standpoint is fairly simple:  People want to know what they are getting and they want a stamp of approval that it’s top notch and they want to know that other people would envy what they got and want to get some too.  And you know what?  I love this piece of the human nature that seeps into the world of wine appreciation.  If there were not a drive to seek out the best of the best and the hidden gems and the over-deliverers then the wine world would be set to become a pretty boring destination.  But with human nature being what it is, the simple soon becomes so much more complex.

Here is where my roads diverge.  Critical ratings of wines seem to be focused toward the consumer.  The purpose of the score is to provide tasting insights, a short preview of the wine, and a summary of it’s merits in a quantitative format.  However, if it is so well-known that wine appreciators are out there benchmarking and precious gem mining then why is there such a move to ignore the score?  It seems there a tendency to reject what is said by the critics only so that we could all return to the mines with our pick axes and no headlamps.  Now let me be clear, while I certainly appreciate what a wine critic has to say, I most definitely do not live and die by the numbers when I am considering the wines that are best for me or best for a consulting client.  This being said, I would never wish for a world of wine where there were no benchmarks and no scores to follow.  For me, scores are a road map for a leisurely journey rather than GPS navigation in heavy traffic to an appointment you’re late for.  There are options along your route and the options are laid out to enhance your pleasure rather than to bring you to your destination with the least delay.

So where did that other road lead?  If critical ratings and reviews of wines are focused ahead to wine consumers, it seems that they leave winemakers and wine producers in the rear-view mirror.  The picture this paints for most wine appreciators is that winemakers will always be chasing after the critics for the next big number.  But I have to say, of all the winemakers I’ve ever spoken with, very few if any of them speak of scores.  There are plenty of numbers on their minds – lab sheets, calendar dates, degrees Celsius, degrees Fahrenheit, degrees Brix, the price of barrels, etc… but usually not critics’ scores.  They give a wave to the rear-view mirror just before getting back to the work that’s cut out for them, the vintage that is on their hands.

So what about the poem from my introduction?  I’m trying to keep a reminder around for myself to constantly be aware of the work I am doing – to give my best effort.  This includes the work that we are doing to build quality into the wines we are bringing to our shop.  We recognize that our work is under constant review and that it is a reflection of the work that has been done all the way back to the vineyards – and the work of the winemaker.  When the time comes for review and recognition, there is one thing a good winemaker will be able to stand on – the stones on the earth.  The stones will remain right in place on the earth and a good winemaker will know that he/she has used their best ability.  We should all be so sure in our every endeavor that we have used our best abilities.

At Bucher Vineyards

Going by most of the charts and timelines that attempt an illustration of the lines dividing one generation from the next, I’m technically a millennial [GASP!] and Sauce is a GenX-er [eye roll].   This would explain why his taste for music far exceeds my taste for noise but it is still a mystery why he is so much better at social media than I am.  Somehow, someway we have managed to come together on most topics concerning world politics, we don’t argue over religion, and we have a deep respect for each others’ work ethic.  So it seems that the dividing lines between generations are not as straight or narrow as one would initially assume.

Naturally, I am in favor of blurry generational lines because they allow me to extricate myself from membership in the “worst” generation.  But wait, weren’t GenX-ers well-hated by the Boomers?  And Boomers just being “kids these days” as their parents and grandparents wagged a finger in their direction?  It is a perpetual cycle that we search for disdain – we cannot approve of the next because it makes ourselves the last.  It is so hard to face the imminent arrival of our own irrelevance.  And this is where I have to drag myself away from the pull of negativity, force myself to stop categorizing, and adjust my focus to see the good [deep breath] – the good in the millennials.

Lucky for me, a breath of fresh air and a change in the view are just the thing for accentuating the positive and encouraging a new perspective.  And what do you know?  Sauce and I found ourselves rolling through the bucolic hills and dales of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County.  Bucher.Cows-and-vineyard-looking-east-panoVineyards as far as the eye can see…wine tasting…Pinot Noir!…and…Dairy Cattle?  [Grrr].  Sauce, this better not be one of your crazy cheese things.  As we turn up the long drive bordered with white rail fencing and fringed with electric green grass my reality snaps into focus; this is not the midsummer Pinot Forum jaunt of my pre-children years.  It’s January.  It’s pouring rain.  The seats around me are occupied by Nona, Sauce, and our toddler happily munching his second packet of fruit snacks and it’s only 10am.  I just realized I’m the mom.

Stepping out into the persistent drizzle, we were greeted by Diane Bucher at Bucher Farms / Bucher Vineyards & Winery.  Her wide smile was welcoming as she invited us to explore the family farm

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Mr. Hollywood visits the Bucher Farm.     

operation and familiarize ourselves with the lay of their land.  After a few layers of rain gear, a pair of rubber boots, and my brief but earnest explanation of why not to jump in the puddles next to the cows, we were off on our adventure.  Simply stated, farm life is every three-year-old little boy’s dream.  There are large vehicles, tall haystacks, cows that moo, and doggies that bark.  I don’t think that Sauce and the mini Sauce could have been happier with the sights, sounds, and even the smells of a working Dairy.  They were in their element together and only the offer of a warm & dry seat in front of a glass of Pinot could pull the Sauce from his frolic with the milk maidens of Bucher.

 

Back up the hill we climbed and ducked under the flying Swiss flag to find ourselves around the table with Diane & John Bucher and daughter, Hannah.  John’s firm but friendly handshake was a familiar reminder of his likewise personality  – we had met a number of times over tastings down the road at the Williams Selyem winery featuring the single vineyard line-up of Pinots that includes a bottling from the Bucher Vineyards that stretch out before us just beyond the panoramic window across the room.  John pours us his Rosé of Pinot Noir to start with and as we taste through his line that includes an unoaked Chardonnay, the barrel fermented Rio Oro Chardonnay, and three smashing Pinot Noirs, the conversation drifts between cows, grapes, land, cheese, business, and Family.

My happy, warmed up, cow-whispering toddler is busily crayoning his next masterpiece on the broad antique living room table that Hannah Bucher has so graciously spread with layers of newspaper.  My mother-in-law has a contented I just sipped amazingly creamy Chardonnay grin across her lips.  There’s not a cell phone in sight (save for the dormant device in front of Sauce – discreetly set to silent mode).  My pencil is down and my glass is up.  There is a millennial amongst us and my aggravation meter isn’t zipping off the charts.  It’s actually not even registering – my inner grouch is flatlining here folks.  There is a pair of vibrant, attentive, curious eyes across the table from me and they are attached to a twenty-something that is fully engaged in a conversation about agriculture, family-owned businesses, and social media [of course].

I understand that there is a major gripe about the work ethic of millennials and I am certainly guilty of proliferating this complaint; but I’m turning a long slow corner.  The further I navigate into my own journey of parenthood the more obvious it becomes that the state of the next generation [whichever generation that may be at present] is a  direct product of those who came before [read: those who are griping].   The deeper I dove into the conversation at The Bucher Farm, the more inspired I was to take ownership of my parenting possibilities and to proliferate forward thinking with this next generation.  Accepting responsibility for the future generation seems to be a daunting task but there is no other way unless we plan to stop time in it’s tracks.  How will I make it through this?  My advice to myself is this:  when this task seems overwhelming I will make pit stops along the way to take in the view and adjust my focus.  These diversions will include places like the vineyards of the Russian River Valley and The Bucher Farm.  These backroads jaunts will lead to conversations with people like Hannah and Diane and John.  And these talks will continue to bring new perspectives that drive us to seek out the good – the good people, the good wines, and the good in ourselves.

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The Bucher Family

 

 


More Reads & Sites:

Get Inspired by Hannah Bucher – here’s her Bio.

Virtually Visit Bucher Vineyards

What’s that Williams Selyem wine we mentioned?

Get yourself a bottle at Falling Bright.