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Richard A. Moran

Rich Moran

We are lucky that wine can start a conversation off on the right foot. If the word “wine” is in the first few sentences of an introduction, it is a real icebreaker in a good way.

When meeting new people the conversation eventually gets around to “what do you do?” It is always the killer question that determines whether or not anyone is going to chat with you. Anyone who has ever been unemployed knows what a dagger in the heart the question can be.

Not long ago we were lucky to be invited to a fancy dinner party. In attendance were brain surgeons, astronauts, politicians and financiers. Or at least that’s what I heard in the blur of introductions. But when I announced that my family owns a vineyard and winery no one else mattered. All the conversation turned to wine, and me. If I were a clown in the circus I don’t know if I could have attracted more attention. The group agreed I am lucky.

Wine is always of interest and can define a place and draw people. Again not long ago we were on an adventure in Austria. While on a tour the knowledgeable guide described the choices to those gathered. The options included visiting Roman ruins from 100 BC that were recently discovered; touring a castle from the 14th century that is rarely open to the public; or, stopping by a local winery that specializes in dry Rieslings. Out of the 25 people on the tour, 20 opted for the wine tour, all with enthusiasm. The tour guide yelled, “I get that response every time!” The group choosing to go to the winery was well-traveled, erudite and very happy and agreed I was lucky.

Wine country includes other interesting non-alcoholic attractions. Again not long ago I drove the old Chevy into town. Our pickup truck is un-restored and proudly bears hundreds of nick, dents, scratches and other character markings that only add to the dull turquoise paint patina. Driving it requires strength to make it go straight. It is a winery truck and on a day that brought Ferraris, Porsches, Aston Martins and other expensive cars into town, the old truck attracted all the attention while parked outside of Steves Hardware. When I saw the people gathered around the truck I thought at first that it might be on fire or that a mouse was running around on the dashboard. The gathered crowd agreed I was lucky to own such a truck.

Lots of people think the dogs of wine country are worthy of being portrayed in books. Although I have not done any research, I suspect there are no books about the dogs of soybean country. Our dogs track mud through the house and howl at the coyotes. We are lucky to have such dogs. Actually, it’s the dogs that are lucky.

We are lucky because the English Muffins from the Model Bakery are right here and readily available. Even though Oprah Winfrey says the muffins are her favorite food, even she has to drive a long way for them.

Photogenic dogs, fancy dinners, old trucks, and interesting occupations describe the glass half-full side of the lucky in wine country argument. In recent days I was a part of the glass half full story. The glass half empty folks might complain about the traffic, the high cost of living, the crazy tourists, the proliferation of gophers, too many wineries or the invasion of new people from other parts of the world. No matter.

Admit it, we are lucky and let’s hope our luck doesn’t run out any time soon.

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Rich Moran travels wine country reminding others that we are lucky.

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