The experience at #SeattleWineAwards was on the horizon and I asked the LORD, Maker of the grapes, to lead me to the grapes that fall — to the wise words of experts that help or encourage me in my “classroom” of three 80 foot rows on Weaver’s Hill. The day had finally arrived, my chores were done and we had a sitter for our Dad who turned 90 this year. The Seattle Center’s #FisherPavilion and its beautiful fountain provided the perfect setting for this event.
My eyes were scanning white blanketed tables displayed with Point-of-Sale materials and and my mind was processing a lot all at once. In between sips of wine and bites of shrimp with herb butter and fly fish roe infused with spicy wasabi, wine and winemakers were getting accolades.
One gentleman stood apart from the festivities. His name is Dick Boushey. “Go talk to him,” prompted my husband. “He’s too far away,” I thought. Then I prayed, Father in Heaven, if you want me to talk to this man, please bring him to me.
It wasn’t long before Steve was getting my attention and directing my gaze to this same man who was now just steps in front of me.
Mr. Boushey was focused. He had come with his own agenda as he tasted wine, mingled with attendees, and talked with winemakers. I was shy about interrupting his thoughts but my husband, Steve, wasn’t. He jumped right in to mention how many wines featured here and nominated for awards had some connection to Boushey Vineyards.
Getting bolder I piped in, “Every time we come to these wine events there seems to be a theme: a varietal, an AVA, or a vineyard. This time it is you.” He just smiled.
I wasn’t quite sure what to say next but out came, “When you seek out a buyer for your grapes what do you look for?” I asked.
“No. When you meet a potential buyer you have never met, what do you think of, what is your mental checklist, your criteria?”
“They have to be able to make good wine consistently over several years. “It goes like this,” he says, as his arm makes a wavy motion like a dolphin swimming in and out of water. “Sometimes you get good years and sometimes you get bad years but that’s not what the consumer wants. The consumer wants good wine every year. The people I want to sell my grapes to need to be able to do that. The bad years don’t bother them.”
“How do you know?”
“You taste their wine.”
Ahhh. This answer, too, is not just that simple. If you want to taste what they do in a bad year, you have to know the good years from the bad and where they get their grapes and what happened to the grapes growing in those places at those times. After all that information permeates your conscience the same way aging wine deeply colors barrel staves, you also need to be able to decipher their wine-making styles and methods. Often this is too much information for the common person.
I have a lot of respect for Dick Boushey. He is an expert. He is a hard working farmer who retains and uses information for the good of his farm. He is a farmer first and he has remained a farmer first over the three random visits we’ve shared at wine events spanning several years.
The first time I met Mr. Boushey was at a Washington wine event. The grape that fell from the bounty of his wisdom was this, “ People forget that we are farmers first.” The comment stood out because it was like a grape of gold in a setting of silver – the highly acclaimed farmer was in the middle of a sea of elementally different approaches to the main product. He was immersed in salespeople, not farmers. I’ve never forgotten it. The seed took root and became a dicot.
The next time I met Mr. Boushey he was exiting another Seattle Wine Award venue. Something inside propelled me forward to grab his attention and let him know that I had actively heard what he said. After a pause long enough to let my eyes glaze over and my tired body get very close to falling asleep on my feet, he responded. He grabbed my shoulder with the force of one who rescues another from certain drowning and pulls them to safety. My entire network of senses woke up. “Thank you for remembering that” he said quietly and then he was gone.
At this last encounter, we were able to have a conversation. In addition to how often Boushey Vineyards was represented here, and the strategies of grape sales, we were able to talk about farming.
JG: We’ve had problems with fungus out here.
DB: It’s more about prevention than solutions.
JG: Given the chance, I would plant to brown roots instead of white ones.
DB: It’s different here than on the other side. Powdery Mildew is something we struggle with. (He paused.) Fungus has been a big problem this year.
JG: I corrected with eggshells, Borax, and Epsom salts.
DB: Sometimes you have to do that. We use Kaligreen. He went into another one of his long pauses then added, “Ahhh, another farmer.” He smiled and laid his work weathered hand gently on my shoulder.
He promptly walked away to taste the wine of yet another winery, likely to decipher one more potential buyer. I stood there quite out of my element. The words that came out of my mouth in conversation with this human being actually sprinkled in some flavor — that was something I wasn’t prepared for.
Yet, I felt as though something important beyond voicing lessons well learned had just happened. His hand conferred upon me, a non-consequential persona, a blessing of sorts.
While important people handed out framed certificates, a tangible memento of my own award and the encouragement of my Maker to continue tending vines, waited for me at home; two lengths of ten foot steel scrap pipe.
Our Douglas fir end posts are beginning to fail. Two had rotted at the base and fallen rendering them useless. Our vines desperately needed replacements because they depend on the trellis and its essential anchoring of wires. I wanted posts that were organic friendly and would last forever but our extra resources were betrothed to other projects.
Unable to provide an adequate solution on my own, this was a matter I brought to the throne room of my Heavenly Father, keeper of our vines. Essentially, by calling on His name in prayer, I sumitted an entry. Then, in the heavenly realm, quite unknown to me, the entry was considered and nominated.
When we tried to pay for our newly arrived posts, our supplier refused payment. This was a blessing beyond words for our shoestring vineyard budget. God worked something special for Weaver’s Hill, my request had been granted.
This year during the Seattle Wine Awards, I was awarded. There was a treasure set aside for me quietly in heaven while at the same time in the middle of a sea of sales people other awards found their way to important people within the wine industry. The Maker of grapes, The Blessed Creator Himself, gave not-so-important-me an award.
In the middle of industry positioning, buyers and sellers both enjoying good music in a quasi-party atmosphere; there of all places, through the kind expressions of a well known, albeit humble grape farmer, a grape had fallen and I was blessed in a way that I would never forget.