This is our very first post on our new blog page. We will be posting many things, including our “Journey to Harvest”, videos, stories from our family, and excerpts from George’s new book, The Land Remembers. For our first blog I would like to share the preface from that book written by my sister, Noel Beitler. I hope this story encourages you to learn more about us at MacLeod Family Vineyard, and interest you in purchasing your own copy of The Land Remembers.
Ah, to be alive!
I want to be alive as my father is alive, almost 95, and lost in wonder about the world around him. He wakes amazed at his good fortune to be here, and by here I mean here, on this particular rocky Sonoma hillside, on the topmost layer of time.
To read this book is to dive headfirst with Dad into the dirt of his beloved vineyard. Below the groomed rows of eager vines there are stories and secrets, horseshoes and arrowheads, minerals, clay, the fever of hard work and big dreams.
Dad plows up all this and more as we travel with him into the mysterious world of terrior–a term which implies that the wine we choose to drink is more than crushed and fermented grapes. It refers to the particular region, microclimate, farmer, and ambience of place as significant factors in the value and character of the finished wine. It refers to the stones and gravel and mud below, exactly what the a vine’s roots grab onto in order to grow.
And up through those thrusting threads come the flavors of that very specific spot where the vine is planted. Every single event that has ever happened to that deep bowl of soil affects the taste, enlivens it, deepens it. On Dad’s land, before his first harvest, this came first: Sprays of boulders from nearby volcanoes, endless years of lupines and clover, fish bones from the middens of First Peoples, the weight of oaks and pine, the grinding noisy tractors, the slice of a shovel, the nestling of a baby grapevine by gentle muddy hands. All this, before the first bud broke upon a woody spur.
Do you know what you’re drinking?
My dad will tell you in way that only a 95-year-old ‘Old Patron’ can do. To be alive as he is alive, astonishment and joy pulsing through every day. He explains terroir with this same astonishment and joy, bringing us to a profound understanding of how the whole earth is in a single glass of wine.
This is my father’s love letter to his hillside of land in Sonoma Valley, the land that is always changing, and the land that remembers all.
Noel MacLeod Beitler