In the Land of Grapes
I married in to a family whose history of growing grapes in the Cognac region goes back over a hundred years.
I don’t talk about them very often because they didn’t sign up for this blog, but it isn’t because I am not extremely proud of them.
This past week the entire group of siblings were together at the family home, for what could be the last time. My brother in law’s cancer has returned and the prognosis is not positive.
While I wanted to honor my brother in law, I also wanted to give the siblings time to spend alone with each other.
This is an area of France where grapes outnumber people.
It was easy to slip away and get lost.
I spent mornings wandering through the vineyards and late afternoons through the house and the gardens.
From noon to early afternoon our time was spent at the dinner table.
Bottles of wine always took center stage.
While the courses changed each day, the routine never varied.
The wine was poured and then each nose would dip in to the glass, instinctively, as if without thought.
In this family smelling, examining and discussing the wine is as much a part of the process as drinking it.
Wine is a course unto itself.
After lunch we would take short walks.
My brother in law showed us the progress that has come to the business.
Six large storage tanks now house wine on the property.
A newly installed state of the art system allows the wine to be distilled on site and then transferred to the Cognac manufacturers to store and age for distribution.
I asked questions, happy that my French had progressed to the point that I could be understood and in turn, understand.
One afternoon we wandered through the area housing the family’s private reserves.
My head was soon spinning from the fumes contained within the stone walls of the cave.
My brother in law’s eye twinkled with mischief as this new comer to the family’s eyes began to water.
Naturally, bottles of Cognac were opened during the process.
One dated 1919 was passed around and finally came to rest in front of me…..
I opted for a pour of the family’s Cassis liqueur instead.
We each swirled our respective liquid history in its’ glass and my brother in law began to tell stories of their parents and life in Charente.
Gone were the signs of chemotherapy and worry.
He was happy.
His family of grapes and siblings were together again.
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