We have found an excellent little vineyard. Next Chapter Vineyard in New Prague, MN ran a LivingSocial a few months back. We choose a weekend for the Vine Pruning Experience. This vineyard was a super small family operation out in the middle of nowhere. We took a road trip and fell in love with every aspect. The tool shed turned wine-tasting space. The wall of mismatched odds and ends that Tim, the owner, uses for his wine creating. The beautiful German Shepard puppy that followed us around everywhere, and of course, the delicious wine!
We spent a few hours in the early morning all bundled up with our pruning sheers. Tim showed us how to properly prune the vines for optimal growth. It was an almost therapeutic movement, row by row, moving so much that our freezing bodies were soon warm and comfortable. We drank mulled wine as we worked and enjoyed the winter silence around us.
After we pruned for what seemed like hours, we had a lunch in the large tool shed. There were about 6 large barrels, some of which used to be filled with Jack Daniels, filled with fermenting wine. We drank red wine and white, straight from the barrel as well as from wine bottles. Tim was charismatic and happily shared his thoughts on the wine industry and how Next Chapter Vineyard came to be. He explained how vines don’t really show for the first four years. There are four or five years of nothing but picking weeds – hearing that almost made my small dream of one day having my own vineyard, sour. Instant gratification doesn’t work too well in this industry, eh? The best comes to those who wait.
It was refreshing to hear Tim talk about the crazy world of wine and how there is such a snobbery, pretentious air around it. He spoke about the wine spectator and the judging of different wines, where sometimes a glass of two buck chuck wins over a glass of $200 wine. I agree with him that it’s very much so a scam. It was such a fun experience to bullshit with him in this giant shed where the wine he has created over the years sits fermenting. We’re all drinking wine. He’s opening new bottles. He’s explaining the process, the bottling process, his thoughts on wine in general. He’s wearing a one-piece winter getup as his baby German Shepard is curled up as his feet.
Many glasses of wine later, after length conversation and laughter, a lot of the other LivingSocial voucher-holders parted. They had other things they wanted to get done. The four of us stayed back and soaked (literally) the experience in. At one point, Timothy thanked us for coming and that was the end of our LivingSocial adventure. He went back out to the vines to keep pruning. We decided to clean up the lunch mess the dozen or so left behind and then we filled up our cups with some more of that delicious wine and headed out to the vineyard to find him. He helped us trim some vine pieces to bring home and plant on our own land. What a great experience – and we all got to take 2 bottles home with us!
In September they have what’s called a harvest, where the grapes are picked and the great stomp happens. We hope to be a part of it and to stomp grapes classier than this lady does.
Wine does the heart good,