Jan
19
2009

Romance in Winter

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

The Red Wheelbarrow

William Carlos Williams


Several years ago on a July 4th week-end, a couple came into the winery and told me how they wanted to retire to a winery and wanted to know what the downsides were. I looked at them and without skipping a beat pointed out to them that this holiday week-end, on this bright, warm and sunny Independence Day, I was working and they were not. Romance was now staggering and bloodied and wobbling on the mat. People, listen and listen good, you don’t retire to a winery. You retire to a golf course. You retire to a fishing pole. If you want to retire to a winery and have a fishing pole, I have the perfect lake for you to lose it in. You may as well let some archeologist get some pleasure out of it a thousand years from now because God knows you won’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I love wine and I love making wine but it is a business, a very competitive business and a much regulated business. Nothing takes the shine off romance like regulation (unless of course you’re a republican).

Get out of the Way!

Get out of the way!

Heavt metal

Heavy metal

If you’re smart you a run your business as lean as you can which brings us to these lovely photographs. A winery and vineyard and Prejean winery is no exception, is first and foremost a farm. People often overlook this reality. We farm for flavor, we farm for quality over quantity, but a vineyard still is a farm. When you drive heavy equipment over rough rocky ground things break and usually have to be fixed quickly. There generally isn’t a piece of equipment that you don’t want or need or can afford. Art Hunt, owner of Hunt Country Vineyards, commented at a meeting that I attended(with a democrat running for governor of NY whose ideas of romance actually required much more regulation….as an independent I’m certainly even-handed) that certain wine regions farm with money, we, in the Finger Lakes farm for money.

If you farm for money you’re going to have to save money by buying used equipment or fabricating your own. This snow plow is a perfect example. We’re blessed at Prejean winery with gifted mechanics. Todd Saltsman, our vineyard manager, fabricated the tractor mount for this used plow which we bought from Bully Hill Vineyards where Todd’s father works. Even with the labor and other parts it could easily pay for itself this year. The plow isn’t pretty but will save money, functions and from a business perspective that makes it beautiful.

As mundane as all this sounds it is all part of running a winery. People, both employees and customers, have to be able to drive up our driveway.

It is easy to overlook the ordinary. We do it every day, all day long. But if you look close at something as commonplace as this plow it reveals a complexity that belies this idea of ordinariness. There is an interlocking web of connections, experience and craft sitting on that concrete floor and a vitality too easily dismissed; an ordinary thing on which so much depends.

Written by Tom Prejean in: Running a winery |

No Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL


Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Aeros Theme | TheBuckmaker.com