One of my friends from medical school married a chemist who dreamed of becoming a vintner. Calling themselves the visioneer and the winemaker, they partnered with an artist to launch their label: Orpheus Wines.
In October, I visited Sonoma Valley for the first time, and attended their harvest party. In the morning, we picked grapes, then stomped them, then drank the previous year’s wine to celebrate.
The wine tasted different.
I could taste the grapes, and the stalks poking my feet with the crushing. I now knew firsthand the cobwebs and dust and occasional leaf that were part of what the French delicately called the “merd” (literal translation: shit) in the wine.
Orpheus Wine’s “Red Over Heels” was delicious. It was earthy and heady and tasted of transfigured soil water and sun.
Afterwards, each vineyard I visited linked taste to people to place.
I could visit the fields where the grapes were picked, then immediately taste the wine, and link the drink with the land, food tied to locale, a sip reenacting a memory of a sunny hillside with crooked vines overlooking a panoramic view of old growth forest and other family vineyards.
I can understand why the local food movement is so popular in Northern California.