Monday, January 10, 2011

Cold and the Winemaker - Vol. 1

Before I was involved with the wine industry, colds were little more than a major annoyance with the occasional concern that they might become more severe.  The only good thing about colds, if such a thing can be said, were the times they also served as an escape from school - although even this was small consolation given the malaise they cast over a week or more.  All this on top of the boredom of having no one who dared get close enough to speak with.

Nevertheless, colds always seemed like an inconvenience that could only rarely interfere with the necessary work or school of the day.  That is, until last Sunday when I came down with my first head/sinus cold in quite some time.  The common drained feeling and resignation to my fate accompanied my football viewing that Sunday, but then I started to think ahead to work on Monday.  There was no doubt that (at that point) I felt well enough to go into work, but the complications of working in the winery while even feeling moderately ill started to dawn on me.

As my sinuses clogged up and I found myself unable to smell or taste very well, my utility in the winery rapidly dropped off.  Despite the best of intentions, there was no getting around the fact that sensory analysis of wines and tank samples would be fruitless.  With no aromas and therefore no taste to guide me, if a wine so much as tasted notably acidic or sweet to me I was thrilled at the sensation.  Had there been a wine loaded with chili peppers I am sure I would have happily drank it down in the desperate hope of blasting open my nasal passages.  Rare moments of clarity (nasal, if not from the medicine-head feeling) held much in common with the breaks of sun we get through the lake effect snow, clouds, and gray of winter: a weak affirmation of life's possibilities due to a heavy dose of remembrance for what was.

My major concern, however, was that I might spread the cold to others - especially Peter and Tricia who were still healthy and in possession of functioning olfactory systems.  With that in mind, I resolved to keep myself away from them and focus on making the best of the situation.  If I was unable to smell and taste very well, the least I could do was redouble my efforts in cellar work.  With the exception of setting up a filtration, most work in the cellar this time of year requires no direct tasting or even handling of the wine.  Behind a pair of rubber gloves and with nothing to distract me, cellar work became a much needed distraction from how I was feeling and a reason to stay moving and active.

I had never realized how large a problem a cold could be to someone's work, but now that I'm over it that won't be the case again.

By: Kelby Russell, Winemaking Team

Music of the Day:
  • Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges; "Judges": (scroll down the page to listen to individual songs, rather than the entire program, it is the third song).
  • I heard this two days ago for the first time, off of the upcoming album to be released in mid-February.  Frankly, this artist is redefining what the saxophone can sound like as well as what genre it belongs to (rock? jazz? classical?).  Keep in mind that all the sounds are coming from the saxophone, even the percussive ones, and this was done in one live take without dubs or looping.
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