Monday, May 30, 2011

Cynthia's Vision

Cynthia is one of the members of the FBV and has a beautiful place and an interesting vision directing her grape growing and wine making.  On the surface, she likes Vouvray wine and has selected grapes that, though they are not classic Vouvray  Chenin blanc grapes, are close enough and will grow well and ripen nicely in our cooler climate.  She is growing Baco noir (a red grape, the exception), La Crescent (one of the University of Minnisota hybrids), Esprit (a variety developed by Elmer Swenson), and Frontanac Gris (another hybrid from the University of Minnesota).  Cynthia was nice enough to write a brief article for the blog explaining why she is growing grapes and what she hopes to develope on her land. 

A vision of grapegrowing and winemaking in Eastern Madison County.
In 2008, my best friend and fiancé, Steve Snow and I set out to clear a mountain pasture, with
the intention of putting in the grape of my favorite wine. We were thinking of being more self
sufficient up on our mountain top. We cleared the steep pasture by hand, burned all the brush
there on site, and researched this grape of my all time favorite wine, a Loire Valley white from
the village Vouvray.

Steve, a counselor specializing in childhood trauma, and I purchased a log cabin that year at
the One Special Christmas auction in Charlotte (long story best told another time). Two days
after Christmas, in 2008, while working to clear a spot of mountain wood for this cabin, Steve
apparently had a heart attack and died the same day.
Not knowing what in the world to do or how to continue on this path alone, toward cabin
building, and grapegrowing, but nonetheIess intent on pursuing our vision, I attended a few
conferences seeking help. Thus in the spring of 2009, I met Chuck Blethen. He and Jeannie
came and told me which “cold hardy” grapes I should, in fact, put into a test plot on the little
mountain pasture Steve and I had cleared.

 Chenin blanc, the grape of my beloved Vouvray
would not grow up on our cold mountain, but the pasture we had cleared just happened to be
southeasterly facing and in a fairly perfect location by our old barn. Chuck early on envisioned
the little log barn becoming a winery eventually up on this hill.

Meanwhile Steve’s dear old buddies from Charlotte have logged a lot of hours coming back and
forth between surgeries, and the distance from their homes in Charlotte, to help construct our
cabin by hand.

 We have managed to place the cabin a lot farther up the mountain than was
convenient, but keeping true to the location Steve and I had picked just before he died. They
have also helped me with a vision of using the cabin for a counselor’s retreat center where
counselors could come to study and prepare to help traumatized women pull themselves up out
of their abusive living circumstances.

 I have been in discussion with a local nonprofit called Our
Voice about having these sessions and board meetings in the cabin as soon as it is completed.
The vision has grown to encompass more of our mountain top being turned into vineyard that
perhaps some women, who are needing a safe place to stay and recover, could come and heal
through the planting of vines, the tending of grapes, the making and drinking of the delicious,
rich wine. Steve’s daughter, Mary Snow, with her exquisite palate, is to be head winemaker.

I have imagined nights up on our hill, lit with little solar lights up the mountain outlining the rows
of vines, music coming from the cabin and the winery, the mountain bustling with clean, safe
human activity centered around the grapevines and the magical concoctions springing from
its fruit. Now all that’s left is to move toward retirement from a busy public health practice of
medicine to start actually accomplishing that dream.

No comments:

Post a Comment