Well, with the end of The Oughts now only hours away, I thought I’d take us all on a last look at the decade we’re about to leave behind, as it played out here on the mountain.
First off, January. A time of change, of beginnings. The world was alive with the spirit; Slovakia adopted the euro, Barack Obama’s election was certified by congress, Microsoft released Windows 7 in beta form, Hawaii became the first US state to convert to digital television, and Japan launched the world’s first greenhouse-gas-monitoring satellite. Yes, it was indeed the dawn of the year, and a time to bask in the new. So how’s about a new full moon over Monte Bello, and the first After-Hours Member Event of 2009!
Which takes us to February, when, after but a brief respite, the vineyards once again began to clamor for attention, and accordingly, the hard-working tenders of these most mojo-laden beauties recommenced their holy labors.
March is always very exciting at Monte Bello, because that’s when we traditionally host our first Monte Bello Collector Assemblage Tasting; this year, it was the 2008 vintage of Monte Bello on offer, and the March tasting was the “Component Tasting,” meaning guests were able to separately sample juice from all four of the Bordeaux varietals that we grow here on Monte Bello: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. And they were able to do so in the company of our esteemed winemakers Paul Draper and Eric Baugher!
April. Another time of beginnings, of new life and lives. Iowa’s Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage. Captain Richard Phillips is rescued from Somali pirates. The Pitcairn Islands abolish Prohibition. It was indeed the springtime of our lives. There, everywhere, and here. Yes, in April, a new sense of the new pervaded our mountain as we welcomed Spring to Monte Bello; in this case, it came in the form of our first King Snake sighting of the season, and the onset of new planting in the vineyards!
May can oft be a bittersweet month on the mountain, for Spring already is beginning its transformation into Summer; and while the vines welcome the heat, and the flowers are as lovely as ever, once can’t help but sometimes wonder where the time goes … It seemed like only yesterday that Carol Ann Duffy became the UKs first female Poet Laureate, that Kris Allen won American Idol, that Robin Soderling upset Rafael Nadal in the French Open … indeed, where does the time go?
And then just like that, the mountain throws the pitch you weren’t expecting, and you’re left standing at the plate with your bat in the wrong place, an elbow out of joint, and a comical expression on your face. Because you expected the heat, and instead, you got a change-up outside:
While July was certainly an exciting month for the world-at-large (three different dinosaur species discovered in Australia, the resignation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Al Franken sworn in as a US senator, the longest solar eclipse of the 21st century taking place) July was really more sort of a personal milestone for me; a tasting experience I’ll never forget. Two wines, side-by-side, tasted blind. When the proverbial veils were lifted, I was stunned to find out I’d just tried, for the very first time, the 1977 Monte Bello! Ah, July ’09, together through the years we’ll always walk …
Which brings us to August, a month of exciting discovery on Monte Bello, as it was across the globe; rare Buddhist treasures in the Gobi Desert, new Mozart works in Vienna, 350 new species of plants and amphibians in the Himalayas, and here on the mountain, one of the coolest spiderwebs I’ve ever seen, and one of the oldest corkscrews I’ve ever seen! The spiderweb hung in the window of our barn, and the corkscrew was unearthed during some site construction on one of the old buildings on our property. Ghost of Days In The Vineyard past? Long-time Ridgers, you know what I’m talkin’ ’bout!
September was a tremendously exciting time on the mountain, as final assembly construction on our new, ten-years-in-the-making grape sorting system began! (Albeit a little close for comfort, with harvest only weeks away!!!)
And then along came harvest! (Sung to the tune of “Along Comes Mary” by The Association, 1966!)
In November, in advance of the Retail Department’s big move to new offices at our Warehouse, The Gang gathered amidst the remnants of Harvest Party decorations for a commemorative photograph, to celebrate our shared past together, and to toast a new era:
And finally, December. The closing of the decade. Momentous to the nth. Controversies abounding. 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan. The Tiger Woods scandal. The Thierry Henry handball incident. The Amanda Knox guilty verdict. Barack Obama accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. The discovery of GJ 1214b. The rise of Rage Against The Machine’s 1992 track “Killing In The Name” to the top of the UK Christmas charts. The attack on Pope Benedict XVI. You’d be forgiven for not knowing which way was up anymore. But here on the mountain, in the secluded environs of Monte Bello, all was peaceful, as our eyes were serenaded by the sweet harmonies of snowfall:
Yes indeed, it’s been quite a year, for us, and for the world. On behalf of all of us here at Ridge, we sincerely hope each of you can look back on the preceding twelve months with a peaceful heart, a rested mind, and a tranquil soul. And we most definitely hope you can look forward as well, with hope in your hands, dreams in your days, and passion in your progress. The Oughts were an adventure we experienced both apart and together, and the new decade awaiting will bring us more of the same; the private journeys of our inner lives, and the public expressions of our shared challenges and grandeurs. And while wine, and all that its world encompasses, is but a tiny component in the vast architecture of your complex existences, we hope that the offerings Ridge makes to your world vintage after vintage after vintage in some way serve to lighten your burdens, invigorate your spirits, and perhaps most of all, to operate as an awareness ritual of sorts, causing you to slow for a moment, to pause, to reflect, to remember pleasure, and peace, and unity of spirit and soul. If by our labors we can, but for a moment, bring a smile to your faces, a warmth to your bellies, a quiet to the caverns of your mind’s busy orchestras, then we too can look back on a decade and feel satisfied.
To you all, we say “Alla Famiglia!” Farewell to The Oughts, and hello to The Tens!