Tuesday, November 17, 2015


On the seventh day of creation the Lord God rested and looked upon all he had created and it was good. As the Lord rested he became bored because he was too young to retire and when you retire you die and it was too early for man to declare God is dead. So the Lord thought of creating a new creature in his own image, neither man nor beast, a creature to reflect the radiance of God and to be God’s companion. And God thought about this for a few minutes, which became hours, then thought on it some more.

Now in those days a minute for the Lord in heaven was a century on earth and as the Lord pondered this new creation the grapevines enslaved Adam and Eve and all their descendants and the people groaned under their bondage and cried out for help and their cries rose up to the Kingdom of Heaven. And God heard their groaning and took pity and remembered the good times he had had with the man and the woman before all that monkey business with the apple and the serpent and the Vine. The Lord pitied the man as he spent all his time in the vineyard and none with his wife. Man needed companionship, so the Lord took the bone from the leg of lamb the priests had sacrificed at the alter because the aroma of grilled lamb was most pleasing to the Lord.  So he took the bone of the lamb and molded it into a new creature and breathed upon it saying “I give you the Holy Spirit.” And the Lord breathed life into the creature which had four legs, fur and a damp nose and said, “Since you are made by God and contain the spirit of God, you are the mirror image of God and I shall call you Dog. Go forth and be a faithful companion to man.” And God released the dog into the field where shepherds kept watch over their flocks by night. The dog rounded up the sheep and brought them to the man and the man was amazed and when the man went to sleep that night the dog lay next to him and warmed him and guarded both the man and the sheep from wolves.  And the man and the dog formed a bond that would never be broken and man’s companionship with Dog liberated man from his enslavement to the Vine.  And to his wife.

Copyright (C) 2015, All Rights Reserved.  Craig Justice "About That Wine I Gave You"

Saturday, November 14, 2015

There Will Always Be Paris

In my lifetime in 1980 there was an explosion on Rue Copernic not far from the Place Victor Hugo which features a vigorous fountain of pulsating water a short walk from our apartment. The synagogue had been bombed and Parisians knew that an attack on some of us is an attack on all of us and there was outrage and stepped up vigilance. Two years later there was an attack in Le Marais - the heart and guts of the old city - at Chez Jo Goldenberg's restaurant where I used to go whenever I had a cold to get a penicillin dose of matzah ball soup. It was a horrific, bloody assault - the terrorists tossed in a grenade then entered with automatic rifles and shot at survivors. The site was chosen because it was associated with a certain tribe from the Middle East - but an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us and once again there was much outrage and vigilance. In the fullness of time those troubling times passed and things settled down.

Today we say je suis Parisian and I'm really not French, but anyone who has been to Paris feels the soul and enchantment of the city and the city is in us and we all dream of going back. At least most of the people I have met in my life.

Neither am I a New Yorker so I can't say what it feels like to be a New Yorker but more than a dozen years after the attack on our great national city I can't drive by on the New Jersey Turnpike or cross the George Washington Bridge or step foot in Manhattan without thinking about  the missing towers and what happened on September 11th and the last desperate act of hopelessness for the jumpers and the people buried alive then crushed by the falling towers. In the same way I can't walk by the fountain at Victor Hugo without thinking about the bomb at the synagogue nor walk through Le Marais without thinking about the spot I sat where a grenade went off. There is only a plaque there now and a retail store but I remember and so do the people.

I was in New York a couple of weeks ago and it was a perfect day and life doesn't get better than that and I was thinking how good it would be for us to meet again in Paris and the education technology exposition I was dreaming to attend is next week.

New York is resilient and so is Paris. In my youth, there were terror attacks. And to think that just 15 years before my birth Paris was occupied by a terrorist, warring state run by Nazis. She survived and good times returned. This too shall pass. And as sure as the sun will rise there will occasionally be stormy days.

France is the oldest ally of the United States and we'd still be part of Great Britain's commonwealth  if it weren't for the French and the aid they provided to General Washington at Yorktown, Virginia. Like all old couples there have been our share of lover's quarrels and conjugal spats. I see President Chirac's warnings to President Bush 43 about the dangers of invading Iraq as one of those disagreements between friends. The French - who had had colonies in the Arab world - knew what a hornets' nest the place could be for armies from the West and urged caution before invading. We could agree to disagree - but we will not be divided from our notres chers amis francais.

We will always remember.  And there will always be Paris.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Serena Loses

Dear Jon, 
I'm  glad to hear you witnessed first hand the U.S. Open yesterday.  So, let me tell you the rest of the story.

Back in the day, you went to Choate and I went to the tennis court. The house my parents bought had a tennis court and I played and I played and I played and I dreamed of playing professional tennis. I dreamed of beating Nastase. I remember that dream. Even now.  I went to the U.S. Open at the West Side Tennis Club when it was played on grass and I saw Ken Rosewall play and my backhand was often like his. The next year they switched to "har-true" courts - a slower surface similar to clay and I saw the final between Chris Everett and Evonne Goolagong (Chrissie won) and I saw what was probably the longest semi-final in history, every stroke, back and forth, five sets, an amazing come from behind victory when Monolo Orontes beat my hero Guillermo Villas - the match probably ended at midnight - oh, before that, we saw Jimmy Conners whip Bjorn Borg and Conners easily won.. And after the match dad and I grabbed a snack at the local deli and there was Mike and Flo Blanchard the famous umpires who had called the match and we had club house passes and the whole shibang and I remember talking with Bud Collins (the TV commentator) about Villas - boy was he good that year.  The finals the next day were Conners against Orontes - and Conners was favored. He had finished 2nd at  Wimbledon that year, losing to Arthur Ashe - who had ropy doped him with wide angle serves. Conners was at the top of his game but not invincible - because Ashe, a black man who now has his statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia along with Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson - had beat Conners and earned that spot among Richmond's famous. Dad and I went to Art's delicatessen in Westport the next morning and bought the famous Art's Italian combo (OMG, why am I not a heart patient now? - it must be the wine - that one sandwich had more meat than a Texas longhorn ) and a roast beast sandwich and we brought them to the matches and we sat right behind the players and watched them hit and return and drive and return and slam and return and Orantes would just manage to get the ball back and he managed to get everything back and then Conners would miss. And he missed again. And he missed again. Then Orantes hit a winner. And another winner. And Conners another miss. And he lost the match. Since then, I've been to the tennis at Roland Garros in Paris several times and I've walked on grass tennis courts in Australia (where I bumped into Rod Laver in a hot tub) and I've driven by the tennis complex in Melbourne and I've been on the tube in London and seen the stop for Wimbledon and it's on my bucket list and would you like to go for our 60th birthday or sooner since life is short? And when the USLTA dropped the L and the lawn from its name and changed the venue from the West Side Tennis Club where we used to get club house passes and built a new stadium near the Flushing Meadow Park I went there for the the inaugural match. Yes, I was there. And since those days, there has been marriage and kids and who has time for tennis and then there's the vineyard and the grapes and the wine. What was once the center of my life means nothing. But to know that on Sept 11th you were in New York and you went to the tennis - I'm glad to hear it. We picked the grapes today and there's a drought and the harvest was small and as Henry the Fifth said at Agincourt the fewer grapes the greater glory there shall be and our friends came and helped us pick them and then we stomped them and there's a heat wave and it's really hot and we had no sleep and the beer is cold and it's great to hear from you. On the anniversary of September 11th old friends should reconnect because who knows what's around the corner. Amen.

P.S. - About that wine I gave you.... You should drink it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Karma Sutra of Punching Down the Cap

Lifting the veil of nets is equivalent to “you may kiss the bride” and after the celebration, after the guests have left the marriage will be consummated inside, behind closed doors.  It’s a sultry end of August evening and the vintner returns home from work. He slips into something more comfortable, walks into the wedding chamber and unbuttons, then removes his shirt not wanting to stain it. As a magician pulls a cloth off a dining table without moving a plate or spilling a drop of wine, the experienced winemaker yanks with authority the bedsheet covering the bride to reveal her full nakedness and vulnerability lying underneath.  The time has come. The vintner guides his tool with his hand pushing it against the membrane then shoves, presses, pushes again with a bit more force. The result is as inevitable as young girls growing up and marrying and the vintner’s staff breaks through the layer of grapeskins to the ever so warm lava and he penetrates deeper and hits her backwall and when he pulls it out the skin is broken and the next thrust practically glides in and he holds it deep and retracts then starts a steady rhythm of pushes, thrusts with nectar from the world’s sweetest fruit surrounding his staff. And now the man, shirtless on this balmy summer night, has his rhythm going punching, thrusting, pushing and he hears waves from the ocean and the crash of splashing liquid and a fountain of bubbling, foaming juices and he gently slides his finger into the hole and feels the yeasty warmth of the bubbling fermentation and he pulls it out and licks the sweetest of juices and he is pleased. Fruit of the vine.  Ambrosia of the gods. A gift from God to mankind for all eternity, amen.  And, he’s back making steady thrusts for he knows he has a few more minutes and he works at the sides of the trough making sure to touch every spot and his muscles are working, drops of sweat appear on his brow, biceps bulge, the dog is barking, triceps ripple and he takes his tool and plunges it as deep as he can into the middle of the vat, slips and falls into a purple bath covered in grape juice and he’s laughing.  All his adult life he has attempted to re-enter a womb – and he has succeeded. As he climbs up from his frothy grape juice bath his dog licks his face. All he can do is laugh again at his silly self and command the dog not to jump in.

After cleaning himself and laying down to sleep he achieves a higher level of consciousness that winemakers for generations, for centuries, since the beginning of time have known – there is nothing more erotic than punching down the cap of skins of fermenting wine. The next morning when punching down again he films himself, shirtless, mano a vino, and emailed the footage to the three muses, who were mildly aroused as each watched her suitor thrust his tool through the skin and with the skill of a sensuous man make love with a batch of wine with such finesse that their under garments grew damp.  Afterwards, Bootlegger hung the darkly stained sheet out to dry as proof that the marriage had been consummated. Every morning and every evening for the next seven days he made love in this way to the wine, without falling into the vat. He vowed that he next time he found himself in the middle of a hot tub of fermenting grape juice he would be kissing, caressing, holding, squeezing the love of his life and not licked by a dog.
Nothing is more erotic than punching down a cap of grapes. Except for, perhaps, watching a woman do it and he was inspired to walk over to Cougar Karrianne’s to see if he could assist her with her punch downs and texted her he was on the way. She looked tired. “How are you?” he asked.
“I’ve got a terrible yeast infection,” she smiled. He knew enough not to inquire further.
By the fourth evening of this ritual honeymoon Bootlegger was starting to feel a little tired and by the end of the week this labor of physical love for the grape was becoming more like work. And yet, with the beginning of each winemaking season, it was exciting as sharing secrets of the karma sutra with a partner for the first time, breathing each other’s life force, embraced and intertwined – as tightly wound together as a grape vine clinging to a strong pole.

Of course there was bottling when you plunged the cork into the hole of the bottle with the corking machine which was about as obscene as winemaking became and then there was pressing the wine, kachink, kachink, kachink, back and forth, back and forth with the ratchet press atop a wooden basket and watching the Cougar with her little grunts press with her tiny yet almighty torque was also a treat. But the best was fermentation and breaking the skin of the cap for the first time and the gushing sweet lava. Punching it down was calming and the cares of the world disappeared, at least for the moment.  What was that on the radio about Bear Stearns? Who cares.  What was that about Lehman Brothers? Something about credit default swaps.  All that could wait as he was absorbed, hypnotized, entranced by the wine.
On the other side of Blue-Merle Country Joe the Wino called an extraordinary weekend meeting of his board of directors at the first sign of economic turn down.  It was as clear to the board as a satellite photograph of a category 5 hurricane that an economic storm of historic proportions would soon wreak financial chaos. Their course of action was decisive. They made plans to cut their workforce before the downturn hit. By trimming now, they would survive.  And they would follow Machiavelli’s advice that if cuts were necessary, they would cut deeply and huddle, wrap their philanthropic arms around the remaining staff. At the same time at other board rooms in San Diego County, Garry Ridge, the CEO of WD-40, Ken Blanchard, head of the Blanchard Companies and other businessmen who practiced “Servant Leadership” saw the same warning signs, the same storm, the same approaching disaster and asked themselves how the hell can we get through this downturn with all staff intact?
When Bootlegger turned 16 years old his parents told him to get a job and he found work as a busboy at a French restaurant and developed a taste for fine food and fine wines and salty humor as he worked with men and woman twice his age. One night, Brendan the head waiter asked the staff, “What’s the difference between panic and terror?”
“I don’t know,” replied the 16-year old virgin.

“Panic is the first time you can’t come twice,” answered the Irishman, “And terror is the second time you can’t come once.” As Bootlegger reached the age of his former colleagues and beyond, he often thought about them . And that joke of Brendan’s came back to him the morning he removed the sheet from the nuptial bed of the fermentation to find his bride frigid. The fermentation had stopped. Early. She wasn’t done. He had a ton of grapes that tasted somewhere between hard cider and Manischewitz that had unexpectedly stopped fermenting. Terror.

(C) Copyright 2015 Craig Justice All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Harvest at Joe The Wino's In the Time of Drought

The best harvest party in all of San Diego County was at Joe the Wino’s estate of course where as many as two hundred volunteers assembled shortly after dawn for a champagne toast and a quick lesson in grape picking 101.
“This is a clipper,” said Joe, “And this is your finger. May the two never meet in our vineyard.”
“Amen,” rejoined the crowd.
“If you see a raisin, think of it as a sugar pill that will enhance the fermentation – put it in the bucket,” Joe said. “Try to keep the leaves out and just pick everything you see. We have a team of quality control experts who will inspect every grape before it goes in.” Joe raised his glass of Dom Perignon champagne and the assembled raised their cups of Costco sparkling wine. “May you have fun, be safe, and let the harvest begin. Cheers!”
“Cheers!” And the herd downed their glasses picked up buckets and clippers and headed out into the vines.
This event – a social high point for the year for many attendees as Joe the Wino opened his wine cellar to any and all of legal age (to the consternation of Janet who used her best efforts to cut costs and even suggested substituting fish bait for the salmon roe that decorated the canap├ęs) was the pinnacle of country living and quite possibly one of the last bastions of free love for adults of a certain age in San Diego.   Marriages resulted from couples who had met at the harvest party. A gal might walk up to a guy and ask “May I pick with you?” while a guy might ask a gal with a heavy bucket of grapes at her feet, “May I carry that for you?” And then they would chat while picking or carrying and find out they had something in common and a bottle of wine later new friendships were sealed under the olive grove adjacent to the vineyard and promises were made. And lest anyone forget the venue’s mantra a sign at the top of the vineyard proclaimed “Zero to Naked in 1.2 Bottles of Wine.”  For a day at least Bacchus and Venus ruled and Fidel was left with the task of picking up panties and thongs from the vineyard floor the next work day.
Fidel – wearing a freshly ironed black eye patch over the eye he lost - was commander of the Gator during Harvest – that is, Joe the Wino’s Gator – driving it as his own. He slammed on the breaks and skidded to a halt two feet behind Bootlegger’s knee. “Que pasa amigo?!” he called.
“Amigo my ass. How are you?”
“Fine. Did you get a new dog?”
“No, but I got a coyote. He’s eating my grapes. At first, I thought it was you stealing my grapes, but I found out it was a coyote.”
“They don’t eat grapes.”
“They don’t eat your grapes because yours are no good. They love our grapes because they’re delicious.”
“You should put water out for him, he’s thirsty.” Fidel always left buckets of fresh water out for the coyotes, so they wouldn’t chew through the irrigation drip lines of his clients.
“He ignores the water and eats the grapes.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Shoot it.”
“Can I shoot it for you?”
Fidel was disappointed and he shot Bootlegger a zinger. “Have you seen Bill lately? He’s selling a lot of wine.”
“So I heard.”
“How’s your wine selling?” Another insult.
“I have no time to sell it. I have to work for a living" - he didn’t need to add unlike some people. Fidel took the jab and countered.
“You should get a tasting room.”
“You should sell our throw-away wine to your friends.”
“Let me build a tasting room for you. You have a lot of money.”
“I had a lot of money and spent it all on wine, women and you, bastard. I gave you all of my money and now my vineyard wiring is falling apart.”
“You should let me come over and fix it.”
“So I can give you more money? Gracias non.”
“Do you want me to come over and shoot the coyote for you?”
“A coyote shooting a coyote? Gracias non.” A vineyardista picking grapes accidently butted her butt against his in the pathway. “Good morning,” he said to her with a broad smile. “Let’s do that dance again - the vineyard bump.”  Anything could happen in the vineyard that day with women and wine and men and the grapes. She giggled, returned the smile and walked by as Bootlegger admired her shapely form and vineyard sway. He closed his eyes and inhaled the natural aromas from her wake and wondered what scent his winemaking muse 3,000 miles away was wearing at that moment.
“Hey amigo, you want to go to Tijuana?” asked Fidel. “I’ll show you around. They have a lot of pretty senoritas there.”
“When Donald Trump is elected president he’ll send you back to Mexico.”
 “Puta madre,” he spat at Trump’s name.
“How’s your knee?” Bootlegger asked.
“It’s pretty good. I can walk up and down hills again.  I’m going to get the other one fixed after the harvest season. Then I can come over and work for you.”
“That must cost a lot of money?”
“No, it’s almost free.”
“I give you all my money and now I have to pay for your health care with my taxes?”
Fidel switched gears. “You should get another dog.”
“You should pay taxes and pay your people fairly – el Pirata.
A helicopter circled the vineyard. One of volunteers who lived in an apartment downtown asked, “What’s that?”
“It’s the water police,” Bootlegger answered. “They’re looking for water hogs.” He called over to Fidel, “Hey amigo, these vines are green and the clusters are pretty big – how much water did you cut back?”
“Fifteen percent.”
“Fifteen percent this month?” he asked surprised but not surprised. The mandate was 35%. “We cut our water by 50%.”
“Your vines look like shit – you should let me take care of your vines. I’ll make them green.”
“Keep your hands off of our vines. Our grapes taste good. That helicopter is after you, man.”
“It’s not my fault,” said Fidel, “It’s Janet. She won’t cut the water.”
“If the water police don’t get you, it will be immigration. You should pay your people more so they don’t rat on you.”
“You should mind your own business” and with that Fidel pressed the accelerator of the Gator and called out heh heh hehhh with a pirate’s laugh shouting “out of my way” and as he pulled out he admonished one of his crew taking a sip of water as temperatures rose, “Hey, stop looking at the senoritas and get back to work.”

Si patron,” replied Rodrigo cursing under his breath as Fidel sped down the hill “hijo de puta” and went back to work. “That fucking son of bitch riding around like a big shot in that fucking gator ….” 

At the bottom of the hill, one of his crew lifted hundred pound lugs of Brunello-clone grapes into the Gator and Fidel drove the cargo to the shaded crush pad at the top of the hill where another day laborer lifted the lugs and set them on a scale as Janet, Joe the Wino’s spouse, counted every pound. Fidel walked over to an ice cooler used by the gringos, grabbed a beer and took a long drink as the swarm of locust volunteers worked their way up the hill picking ten tons of grapes one bunch at a time while a covey of Guatemalan women he assembled - paying them half the minimum wage and pocketing the rest – diligently inspected each and every berry under Janet’s watchful eyes before sending the perfect ones to the crusher and damaged ones to the compost.....

To be continued. (C) Copyright 2015 All Rights Reserved. Craig Justice. "About That Wine I Gave You"

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Genesis in the Vineyard of Eden

On the Third Day of Creation after finishing the world’s greatest reclamation project the Lord said, “Let there be organic vegetables and plants and fruit trees” and so it was that The Grapevine appeared on the earth.  And God said let Durian be the stinkiest of fruits and the grape the sweetest and the Lord loved the grape because it was good. Now the vines that produced the grapes, the fruit the Lord loved, required a lot of work but since God was almighty he could handle it.[1]  God knew the process of fermentation and he drank the fermented fruit of the vine which he called ambrosia. [2]

In the order of creation, the Grapevine was here first and believed she was superior to what came afterwards – especially man - and the Grapevine was jealous of man because God paid more attention to the man and to the man’s wife than to the vines. God loved the man and the man’s wife and gave them everything except ambrosia, for he knew if he gave ambrosia to man it would ruin him and God didn’t want man showing up drunk to church.[3] 

Now the Grapevine was even more subtle than the serpent and said to the reptile, “Why don’t you tell the man’s wife to eat the apple with grapes for a healthier diet?” and the serpent followed the Vine’s suggestion.

The next day the Lord was walking in the Vineyard in the cool of the day – checking for gophers, thinning leaves, spraying against mildew and mowing down weeds (all with the swipe of a finger across his nose) and when he was finished he wanted someone to talk with and looked for the man and his wife but couldn’t find them. “Have you seen the man and his wife?” he asked the Grapevine.
 “Am I my brother’s keeper?” she replied. But the Grapevine knew the man and his wife had hid themselves and covered their nakedness with large grape leaves.
“Adam, where are you?” called the Lord.
“We’re hiding,” replied the man. “We heard you coming and hid behind the grape vines. We have no clothes and are naked.”
“Who told you you were naked?” demanded the Lord. “God damn it! Did you eat the apple I commanded you not to eat after I gave you all these grapes?!” The Lord was pissed and in his furry decreed a perpetual punishment on man – henceforth, he had to toil the soil and be responsible for tending the vines, for the Lord knew there was no worse punishment.

The man was pissed because now on he had to work and with vengeance in his heart took a shovel to hack down the Grapevine.  As the man approached, the Grapevine pleaded, “Please grant me a last drink.”  The man agreed and she took some of her grapes, crushed them into juice, added yeast, shook it, then waited a minute and poured the libation into a cup. The Vine inhaled aromas from the libation with great ceremony then took a sip and oooohhed and aaahhhd.
 “What are you drinking?” asked the man.
“God’s ambrosia,” said the Vine, “which your ancestors will call wine. This is the drink most pleasing to the Lord.”
“Why have I not heard of this?”
“The Good Lord says you are too immature to drink it,” and she added subtly, “He wanted to keep it all for himself.”
The man raised his shovel and demanded, “Let me taste this ambrosia or die!” and the Vine passed the cup to the man who sipped and it was the most amazing thing he had ever tasted – even more luscious than the juice of his wife.
“The recipe is a secret known only by me and God.  He didn’t want you to have it, because he doesn’t believe you are worthy.  It is I who offer you this gift.  If you cut me down, this is the last cup of wine you shall ever taste.  Wine is the cup of salvation,” she said. “Drink this and enjoy everlasting life.”
“How may I get more of this drink?” asked the man whose thirst grew with each sip.
“You can start by not hacking me down.”  The man lowered his shovel.  “If you cut down the vine of life, you cut off life. If you separate yourself from the vine, you will die.  Let’s work together,” the Vine proposed. “You care for me and I’ll produce grapes for you. I’ll teach you how to turn the grapes into wine. And, in the fullness of time, you’ll get rich and your New York descendants will have a monopoly on wine distribution.”
“Deal,” said the man, who was seduced by the allure of the Vine and the promise of more wine.
“Whenever you drink the fruit of the vine do so in remembrance of me.”
“Cheers!” said the man and they drank to the bottom of the glass. The Vine poured him another glass then another. Later that afternoon the Lord, walking through the vineyard, found the man and his wife passed out and mourned the loss of his creation. So man and woman became caretakers of the Vine and the true fall of man began when man worshiped wine more than God.

Man and his wife believed they were masters of the Vine, but the Vine – the subtlest of all creation - had a long-term game plan.

With instructions from the Vine, man took cuttings from the Vine and planted them into the ground to propagate new varietals.  Cabernet Franc and Sauvingnon Blanc begat Cabernet Sauvignon.  Pinot Noir and Cinsault begat Pinotage.  Dr. Durriff and Syrah begat Petite Sirah. And so and so begat so and so. The first year the man and his sons pulled fledgling grapes off of the young vines to strengthen their roots.  The second year the vines grew taller than the man and he pulled the fruit to make the vine even stronger. The third year the man, his wife and their sons harvested the grapes and made a blush wine and it was pretty good, especially on a hot summer day.  The fourth year the man and his sons harvested the grapes and made red wine and it washed down the pasta pretty well. As the years passed the vines waxed stronger and stronger and the wine improved and the Lord took fewer walks through the vineyard and as the Lord was seen less often by the man he drifted further and further away from his Creator and grew fonder and fonder of the wine.

Each year the vines grew stronger while the man grew older, and while the wine made by the grapes improved with age the man did not,  imperceptible at first, but with each year, an ache in the hand here, a pain in the foot there, and over the years the ailments compounded. In his youth, man was master of the Vine and harvested the grapes and perfected the art of winemaking, but the Vine seduced man with wine, central to her plan.  The Vine provided wine to the man for lunch and suggested to him to enjoy the lifestyle of his Mediterranean cousins and he started taking siestas and worked less and put on weight and while he slept the Vine grew taller and stronger.  She whispered to the man, “Plant more,” and the man listened, believing more vines and more wine would make him happier and the vines sang hypnotic songs in the vineyard – which German poets would call “Lorelei” about a siren above the river Rhine who caused ships to crash on the rocks.  Lorelei was a grapevine and she and other vines seduced men and women with their music.  One afternoon after drinking his fill of the fermented fruit of the vine the man awoke and his beard was long and white and the vine was long and green, and the vine wrapped its tendrils around the man’s ankles, and although the man was tired he brushed her back, but the vine persevered and the next year wrapped herself around his ankles and thighs and the man could only train her back to his ankles and it was the beginning of the end, for in the fullness of time the man would succumb and the vine would rule, and when she ruled, she would nourish the birds of the vineyard who nested between her breasts with her grapes for that was the way Mother Nature intended.  The man would die, be cremated and his ashes spread in the vineyard, which nourished the vines even more and was their ultimate victory.

You dream of owning a vineyard?  A vineyard will consume all your time, drain you, kill you, then devour you.

[1] In those days this paradise was called the Vineyard of Eden before Hebrew historians renamed it the Garden of Eden and The Grapevine was Queen of the Fruits.
[2] Christian historians state Jesus was right up there at the right hand of God at this time and joined the Lord for happy-hours and patented a method for turning water into wine but about this I’m not so sure because I missed Sunday school the week that was taught because my parents had a hangover.
[3] When followers of the Son of God started serving wine in church that was the start of church schisms because at the beginning God did everything in his power to keep wine away from man.

(C) Copyright 2015, Craig Justice, All Rights Reserved. Permission granted to quote with credit.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Winemaker's Breakfast: Simple Soup, Simple Shrimp & Shrooms

Simple Soup, Simple Shrimp & Shrooooms

A man's got to eat a good breakfast to rack the new wine into the new barrels that arrived this week. Especially if he intends to do it without spilling a drop. The leftovers available were one day old shrimp, the bottom of the pan of 3 day old crab soup, cherry tomatoes going from red to green, several days old hard rice left as an offering to the spirit of the dog and some fur-growing mushrooms.

The method:

* Boil the left over soup. Throw in some broccoli. Throw in two fresh eggs and stir. Add the handful of hard dried-out rice. Simmer.
* Cut the mushrooms. Saute with olive oil and a dash of butter. Pour onto plate. (Note to chef, next time try adding a bit of leftover can't call it "Port" wine while cooking and a pinch of Hawaii Kai red clay sea-salt when serving.)
* Into the saute pan add more olive oil, sliced garlic, and from the herb garden grab what's available, which in our case was basil dried on the plant and some rosemary. Throw in the shrimp. A touch of butter. This cooks up fast - then drain off the delicious "shrimp sauce" into the simmering soup, stir, and serve. Alas, there is no suggested wine pairing today - it's 6 o'clock in the bloody morning.

I can hear dad asking: "Where are the grits?"  OK, next time.

Voila!  I'm so full - and so ready to tackle those barrels of wine - especially after the pot of pressed coffee and a piece of Belgian chocolate. For the record, this is the first time I can remember cooking with butter in ages. This is the first time I remember cooking in ages. Will get cholesterol checked on Monday at Lab Corp.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Is It Halloween?

Now that all the grapes are harvested and fermented and there's a heat wave I'm working inside on the bookkeeping and there's no excuse but to exercise a little personal hygiene and cut my overgrown hair. There should be a law against balding men appearing in public with hair as bad as this. At least I won't need a Halloween mask after cutting it myself.  I step carefully outside with the electric shears half expecting to see a Rattler looking for shade. Leaves rustle and a lizard - the relative of a Komodo dragon - scampers up the stucco wall frightened out of his wits. The mirror I need to avoid being arrested for a really bad haircut is hanging from the wall and I half expect to see the lizard's mate behind it - during Spring cleaning I found a lizard self-taxidermied stuck to the wall. I lifted the mirror and there was no scurrying but I half expected a Black Widow to crawl from behind the mirror onto my hand so I put the mirror down and found no spider then looked up on the wall to see what was left of the previous year's lizard corpse and I noticed Dracula sleeping. Before I could take a photo the bat had flown. Do you know if bat shat is poisonous? There seems to be some left behind.