Grape Debate '04 - Why Winemakers are Gods.

June 10, 2004

James' speech notes.

"Ladies & Gentlemen, winemakers are the gods of the industry. You know it makes sense.

I was very nervous about speaking today. I couldn't sleep last night. When I finally drifted off, I began to dream.

At the door was a messenger with a beautiful engraved invitation to a wine tasting hosted by God himself…

My company were major sponsors and I was invited.

God had deck out Chapel Hill as if it were the Sea & Vines festival to end all Sea & Vines festivals.

Tables, candles, crystal all in a giant tent.

I walked into the tent and was stunned and the music that was echoing was very familiar. Sure enough, on a giant white piano there was John Lennon playing Imagine -- just with slightly different words.

I found my way to a seat and looked around. I was sitting next to on my right Drew Noon, on my right was Steve Piombo.

Justin Lane, Phil and the garage winery crew, had a Red Heads Studio table and Micheal Fragos was half way through showing them some killer ‘04 barrel samples.

Chester was there sitting up the front chatting to Jesus about the chances of getting in some Marsanne through quarantine a bit quicker.

So there I was with Steve smiling on my left, Drew on my right, and I let my eyes wander over the other guests. There was the John Glatzer, Simon Parker, Steve Pannel, The team from Wirra.

I can only  thank my lucky stars I was invited, Thanks Bryan, but I didn't care as it was just so cool to be here and -- God's wine had to be pretty good

All of a sudden everyone scurried for their seats, and a group the apostles entered the room followed by God himself.

God stood up the front and went into a detailed very nice multimedia PowerPoint presentation of the techniques.

Half way through explaining the distinct soil and microclimate of each vineyard that went made the grade, the presentation went dead… Blank screen, nothing.

Luckly Lucy Hyde was sitting near the front & she sorted it.

After God gave an introduction we all poured the first wine, which was a mighty red, and we all begin to swirl with reverence. I put the wine up to my nose and . . . nothing.


It took me both hands to lift each glass, but I went through tasting each wine with maximum concentration -- although it was hard to ignore the oohhs and aahhs of the assembled angelic palates. My taste buds were in total confusion. Every wine looked and tasted the same. Dark purple, sweet oak, high alcohol, soft well-integrated tannins and . . . well, that was it. I could only think what the heck were you supposed to eat with wines like this?

Then God looked right at me and said, "What are your comments on these wines." Jesus Christ (I really have to stop that) -- Why me? I thought.

"Well," I stuttered, "this intensity is amazing."

 "Exactly!" stormed God. "We cut yields to only one grape per vine!"

“Oh my god... God really is a winemaker.”


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