NORMAN — Are you an oenophile?
Even if you happen to be part of the strictly beer aficionado group, be open minded and give wine a taste test. Who knows if you find that you like it, someday Hollywood could make you famous by dedicating a corker of a movie to you: “Dr. Beerlove or How I Learned to Love the Fruit of the Vine.”
If you do not know whether you are a wine lover or not, there is no better place to find out than at a local wine festival, and this is the time to do so. The grapes have been harvested. They have been crushed, squeezed and bottled. Now it is time to enjoy the fruits of the vintners’ labor by attending a wine festival near you. The taste testing is in full swing.
According to Wikipedia, this country has been producing wine for more than 300 years. Today, there are wineries in all 50 states, “with California producing 89 percent of all US wine. The United States is the fourth largest wine producing country in the world after France, Italy and Spain.”
So, what was once a local novelty, has multiplied into countless thriving family businesses. The back stories are different for each vintner. For example, the owner of a Texas winery Hubby and I discovered on our travels to the Hill Country used to be a pharmacist. He went from mixing potions to make people well to mixing potions to please their taste buds and make them feel good. The owner/vintner of another winery closer to home can trace his wine making roots back to 15th century Spain.
As the owner of the Canadian River Winery in Oklahoma explained, there is something indescribably satisfying about the whole process. “You are there from the moment you plant that first stick in the ground to the end when we cork the bottle.”
This particular winery is near the University of Oklahoma, so it was no surprise to see many college students at the wine festival. It was a crisp first day of fall. The sun was shining, there were booths offering tantalizing ways to part with your money. The band was terrific and the grape stomping was squishy.
For those who have watched replays of the old “I Love Lucy” television shows, you may have seen the famous wine stomping scene. Well, folks, Lucy was nowhere in sight when they dumped bucket after bucket of red and white grapes into the plastic vat.
Children of all ages and sizes, as well as a few ladies, climbed in and stomped on those lovely grapes. As people climbed out, there were eager little and not so little bare feet ready to climb in and take their turn at the squish those grapes dance. Eventually, the mountain of grapes succumbed to all that bare footing and dark liquid was visible.
One of the college guys who bought some wine looked worried. His delicate sensibilities were clearly disturbed by the thought that he might be buying a bottle of wine whose contents may have endured a meeting of the feet and the grapes. He asked whether there is a disclaimer given on bottles of wine that come from such grape stomps. The lady behind the counter smiled and said “Yes.”
Most people know that after the fermentation process is complete, the bit of toe jam mixed in with the grapes is thoroughly sterilized. However, if you happen to be a bit squeamish, it is best not to dwell on such things. But for the most part, a machine usually performs “stomping” duties in the normal grapes-to-wine process.
As a parting giggle to those who paid attention, there was a sign in the winery’s shop which was similar to a frequently aired commercial about Las Vegas.
“What happens in the winery, stays in the winery.”
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Her novels “The Dionysus Connection” and “The Marathon Man” are available on amazon.com. Visit her website, www.elizabethcowan.com.