Wine Spirits

Written by Braiden on January 10, 2011

Wine makers are passionate people. It’s one of the main reasons I wrote my seventh book, “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.”

One of the wineries profiled therein was Camaraderie Cellars, located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in Port Angeles. Winemaker Don Corson (who runs the winery with his wife, Vicki) is a wise and wonderful man. He shared his poem, “Autumnal Birth,” with Five More Minutes With in November and is part of a group called WineSpirit.

WineSpirit started when its founders realized, “wine’s extensive role in celebrating life and relationships.” According to the group’s Web site, WineSpirit  connects wine and spirituality in the details of each day by: Celebrating wine as catalyst for opening what/who is inside, taking time to nurture and build relationships, cherishing balance in all facets of life, honoring wine’s partnership connecting di-vine and people, and bringing people of all walks of life together to share stories and explore life’s meaning over a glass of wine.

Here’s a “Thanksgiving Offering,” followed by some questions for reflection, that Don wrote for WineSpirit, and was kind enough to share with the Five More Minutes With audience.

Free Run. . .a Thanksgiving Offering

By Don Corson

We are a small winery, but at last count we had 21 fermentations on the tasting-room blackboard; now we were down to the last three for pressing. A couple of months of travel, squashing grapes, pumping-over tanks, pressing, and barreling new wine had all come down to these last couple of days, especially now.

“Free run” is the wine in a tank of fermenting grapes that comes out like Noah’s flood as you open the valve near the bottom of the tank. Off it goes into another tank via a hose and in another day or so I will get it into oak barrels for aging.

But this was special. End of the harvest! The last three fermentations and I was going to get them all flowing at the same time. I got all the tanks in place and double-checked the seals and clamps. I got a bottle of an older vintage, a sibling of the same varieties I was going to press.

It’s a proprietary blend called “Triomphe” (seemed appropriate). I called my wife for her to come too. I opened the wine and poured us a couple of glasses.

Then, one… two… three… we opened the valves as closely together as we could. The rush of hundreds of gallons of wine surging at the same time and splashing into tanks was thunderous. Splosh, whoosh, stallions stampeding, name the metaphor… it was all there.

After a few minutes things quieted a bit. The wine was over the valve in the new tank and wine was swirling and fizzing in the tank. I climbed a ladder, peered in at the spectacle, and soaked in the scene of new wine released and transformed from its grape-y origins just days ago. Heady aromas of new wine, alcohol, sparkly CO2, and fresh stone-fruit preserves captured me.

I smiled. All was well.

This is my 30th vintage. Moments like these are never old. I can’t imagine delegating this much fun and wonder. This is my job.

In the comparative quiet of still filling tanks I offered a whispered “thank you.”

An answer came back. Not in words but in understanding.

“You’re welcome.”

I think Elijah had the same experience in a way. It was not in the storm and the wind that God came to him but in the “still small voice.”

As Thanksgiving comes and fills the commercial void between Halloween and end-of-the-year festivities I am going to enjoy the memory of rushing newly released wine and celebrate the harvest now complete.

But, I am also alert again to the need for even a whispered genuine “thank you” and the answer that had been there even before I said anything. “You’re welcome.”

Questions to reflect upon:

1. What is your noisy place and how do you find silence and the small voices of Spirit?

2. “I soaked in the scene of new wine released and transformed from its grape-y origins just days ago. Heady aromas of new wine, alcohol, sparkly CO2 and fresh stone-fruit preserves captured me.”

What seasonal or culminating activity engages and enlivens your passion and your appreciation for life’s ways and miracles?

3. What energy do you connect with in a heartfelt exchange of Thank You/You’re Welcome?

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