Drink Up, Me Hearties!

Life of a pirate, winemaker far from a fine romance

By Hilary Berg

There’s something romantic about pirates, sailing the high seas on a grand adventure in search of lost treasure.

Wearing sparkling jewels, bohemian garb and cool boots, they sing songs, drink rum, make merry and have parrots as pets.

Yet, we all know real pirates were far from the fantasy Hollywood would have us believe. Jack Sparrow and Captain Hook would have been seriously scary guys.

Pirates were crass criminals, who rarely bathed and contracted diseases from rats running amok. Even if they had parrots, Polly would have most likely contributed to the poop neck — I mean poop deck.

Aye, life aboard the ship was anything but a dream.

A sense of romanticism also exists for winegrowers and winemakers.

Surrounded by a lush, perfectly pruned canopy, they watch the plants grow and fruit mature with the sun at their backs and dogs by their sides.

Inside the winery, dressed in casual Carhartts — and cool boots — winemakers sniff, swirl and sip their way to the perfect blend, discussing their latest stellar scores and the winemaker’s dinner from the night before. Back in the office, checks from distributors pile high and media requests crowd their in-boxes — Ellen just called; she wants an interview.

Time for a reality check. Carhartts? Yes. Dogs? Yes. Sunny all the time? C’mon, this is Oregon. High scores? Don’t get me started. Unsolicited checks from distributors? Now, that’s a fantasy.

You guessed it, the work of winemakers and winegrowers is not “A Walk in the Clouds.” While it has its marvelous moments, overall, it’s back-breaking work in the vineyard and cellar. And then, there’s selling it — oh, blimey. 

What IS romantic is the wine, itself. Enchantment in a glass, the perfect Pinot Noir or (insert favorite variety here) is the treasure all of us winelovers seek — no pillaging required.

To that, I say, “Drink up, me hearties, yo-ho!”

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