Sunset & Growers
by Bob Dempel, August 31, 2016
On Wednesday evenings during daylight savings time a local winery offers a late evening opportunity to visit their tasting room and see the sunset. They have a beautiful facility with a covered porch facing the west. Tablecloths cover large round tables for ten people. Shirley and I got there early so we took two chairs facing due west, knowing that some other guests would fill the table. We try to visit this winery at least once during the summer months for the sunset viewing. A modest fee of $10 is charged per person which probably covers the cost of the linens and the music. Food is extra which we purchased at a pop-up vendor. This week it was pizza and a salad. We purchased a glass of sauvignon blanc to share between ourselves.
A nice older couple joined us to our left and then two couples to our right filled out the table of ten. The two couples obviously were great friends and the conversation between them flowed freely. Unfortunately when they sat down no introductions were attempted.
Shirley and I enjoyed the setting of the sun and the gentle breeze. A fog layer could be seen over the town of Sebastopol to the west. I put on my often worn Clo du Bois jacket. Shirley had a nice generic sweater. Constellation, which owns “Clo,” as we in the industry refer to it, are very generous with gifts at their annual grower luncheons. This specific jacket has Clo du Bois printed on it and also the word “Grower.”
As Shirley and I were leaving, one of the men from the four-person party asked me, “Are you are a grower or did you just find that jacket?” Since we had had no conversation with them throughout the dinner, I was somewhat taken back. “No,” I said, “this is my 47th harvest.” With that, the man excitingly stated that 25 years ago he knew someone who worked at Clo. I politely stated that I was not familiar with the name.
However, it raises an important industry question. Just what does the general wine drinking public perceive a grower should look like?
Should I have had on overalls and a straw hat like Augie Sebastiani? Maybe a corncob pipe? Or should I have had on a suit as the late Jay Benoist always wore? Or just jeans and a cotton shirt?
The answer is that grape growers are just like average, ordinary people. Shirley and I live in a subdivision here in Santa Rosa. Growers Henry and Barbara Bisordi live just around the corner. I doubt that any of our neighbors know that we grow grapes.
The problem is that the public has little or no knowledge about growing grapes and the people who grow them. With 2000 grape growers in Sonoma County, the wine drinking public would probably be hard pressed to name one grower. However, they will discuss the merits of a bottle of wine ad nauseam. I think it would be nice if the public knew more about the grower who produced the grape that went into that bottle of wine.