Juicy Grapes

Published by Ian Stirling on 18/11/2015

Before making the decision to forge a career in the wine industry, part of my rationale was that it would probably be full of nice and interesting people.

I still have mixed feelings about the winemaker in Mexico who led me into an isolated, pitch black warehouse, locked the door and went to ‘look for the light switch’. Alone, confused and torn between the fear that I was about to be shot in the back of the head and the even greater fear that it would be impolite to do anything about it, I stood there for an eternity. Suddenly, the room was filled with tiny red dots, like the laser sights of a hundred sniper’s rifles, moving frantically across the walls. My mind leapt to my wife, my daughter, and my bowels. “Imagine” requested the winemaker, who had apparently crept through the darkness, like a ninja, to stand just a metre in front of me, “you are a molecule, in a juicy grape.”

This experience was, on balance, easier on my sanity than another more recent encounter with a renowned winemaker in deepest darkest France. Whatever question I asked, whatever proposal I pitched, whatever desperate attempt at any form of human interaction I made, the response would come only as a ‘Oui’, a ‘Non’ or an evasive shrug. Having laboured through the hour-long visit, comforted only by the incredible quality of his wines, I contemplated my departure with gentle relief. I went to shake his hand. He looked up, bewildered. “But you’re staying for lunch, of course?” My heart sank, like a molecule, in a juicy grape.

Nice people, if you can get over the first impressions. Very interesting too, if you can get them to speak.


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