Initiation: Part Two - Now we Drink for Pleasure!

So here we are… dinking for pleasure. What exactly were we drinking for before? Oh right, for business, my apologies, I get the two mixed up from time to time. This part of the story is a bit shorter, partly because the introductions and setting are all finished being explained and set, and the other part because well, I can’t exactly reveal EVERYTHING about this evening, but enough indeed.

So, as my burly French winemaking friend ventures down to the cave to retrieve our “pleasure drinks” my company and I stay waiting, and they express to me that we have to watch our time, for we have a dinner booked at a famous restaurant in a few hours and we surely can’t be late. I knew there was no way in hell we were making it to that dinner, I just didn’t want to tell them yet that we were in for a very long night. Once the bottles of bubbly started to pop, we were already deep in conversation about unconventional vineyard practices like following the moon calendar, planting vines on days without an R… yes that is actually a topic we covered, and all sorts of other legitimately interesting things. At one point my brother-in-law looked over at me and gave me the classic French puff of the cheeks expression that usually hints at something being excessive, in this instance, he was surely talking about our rate of consumption, but we must soldier on! 

It is now about 8pm, we were supposed to have traveled about 40 minutes up the road to another wine region and do a little exploring – missed that – our dinner reso was for 8 o’clock… yup, blew that too, we also had a very important meeting at 9am the next morning to which we certainly did not want to be hung over for. Yah, check that box too. No need to worry however, for our trusty winemaker literally knows everybody, and called the restaurant to push back our reservation, something I was told was quite “impossible” (if you ever travel to France you should know that their definition of impossible is very different to ours) but alas, we had another hour before we had to be at dinner, few!

This is right about the time that I realized I had found my perfect job. It wasn’t the drinking, it wasn’t the craziness of it all. It was how deep of a connection people can have when they are doing what they absolutely love and run in to someone that is doing the same thing and loving it just as much. This is the most beautiful thing about the wine industry. When you find someone succeeding within it and they started their career because they were downright passionate and could think of nothing else, there is no stopping the conversation, no slowing down the “tasting” there is just a legitimate connection that overwrites all other obligations. 

This connection overwrote our dinner reservation another 3 times, and because my new best friend is so persuasive he actually got the restaurant to take us for an 11pm seating. That diner was a total write off by the way. I had pre-ordered a bottle of 1995 Cos d’Estournel which was completely wasted on our table even though I thoroughly enjoyed every sip, I probably would have downgraded a bit considering my extended “a-hem” tasting at my new favourite winery. 

The other thing that was overlooked just a little was the 9am meeting we had the next morning at yet another winery to talk about starting a business relationship and therefore certainly taste a whole lot more wine. I was prepared, I drank about 10 litres of water the night before and woke up feeling rather okay considering our alcoholic escapades the night before. Now for the rest of my group, that is another story, and that story will be saved for next time when I get into what it’s like being an outsider trying to make it out of a wine industry tasting day alive, no matter how experienced in wine drinking you think you are.



TJ Harstine