Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day Meditations

Wine is the consummation of human nature-love. People care so passionately about the quality of the fruit produced to make the wine that the care we take of the vines is unsurpassed in its attentiveness and devotion. In wine, the whole concept of terroir communicates how winegrowing encourages humans to be attuned to the Earth, the systems at work and the interconnectedness of it all. How often do you think about how the climactic conditions your banana withstood affected its flavor(s)? We care more now as a collective society than we did in the recent past about where things come from and how they came to be, but we’re probably not quite there yet in terms of thinking holistically about all of our choices. Anyway, terroir is more than just the soil, the microclimate and the location. It is the mark made by all the aspects of the Earth around that vine. Think: the ‘nurture’ influence on humans in the nature/nurture duality. No two wines will ever be the same and what's more fun than discovering the subtle differences with your palate?

In Rutherford our soil is full of sandy loam. Blocks farther from the Napa River at the back edge of our property produce the most concentrated fruit, as they have to burrow deeper to find a water source.  The little section of vine which grows under the shadow of the Eucalyptus tree behind the winery takes a bit more time to ripen than the rest. The south facing vines ripen more quickly than the north facing vines. There are an infinite variety of observations to make. And again, one discovers these facts through one’s senses. Tasting the grapes and paying attention. Wine is an ode to the human capacity to smell, to taste, to feel, to see, to discover and to enjoy.

I grew up in a society that spends more of childhood in a classroom learning about nature from a book than discovering it at the source itself.  Maybe that’s why being in nature is so precious to me. I experienced its majesty for the first time in early adulthood. It’s been captivating, wondrous and new every time ever since.

I write to you now with my belly in the dirt, splayed out in the middle of the vines, listening to the birds chirp, watching the grasses and the just-sprouted leaves on the vines move in tandem as the wind whispers through them. A spider scurries across my notebook; ants scuttle over tiny clumps of dirt and teeny rocks and miniature sticks along an unknowable but evidently determined path to fulfill their purpose. Contemplating our own ‘purpose’ can feel like an inscrutable burden of our elite human consciousness, but for me, being in nature makes me feel closer to it- whatever it is. The ‘purpose’ of being alive. And it feels almost simple. When the birds sing and perch on the vines and flutter around each other in instinctual patterns, and the wind blows warm, dry air through my hair and across my face, and when as far as the eye can see, plants move like jazz music in the infinite patterns created by the wind. I feel still and at peace. The American conception of what is happiness is a confusing one at times, but nature is always there to remind us of what is real. Perhaps the fact is simply that we exist.

In gratitude, I pledge to be better about using my travel coffee mug (did you know these are called ‘tumblers’?) rather than turning a blind eye to the number of to-go cups I rack up in one week. And I plan to fight against the New Year’s Resolution Syndrome and actually still be in the habit of using said tumbler a few months down the road. Check in with me.

Peju farms certified organically in Rutherford and sustainably elsewhere with CCOF certification on the horizon, has 10,000 square feet of solar panels contributing 36% of our annual energy, composts, recycles, offers incentives to employees to buy hybrid cars, and is generally committed to continually converting our daily practices to always improve on our sustainability. We started using biodegradable flatware when silverware is not a viable option this year. Every little bit really does count. What will you do differently? Starting TODAY!

I'm back at the computer now, but it was nice to take a moment with the Earth to honor her on her  special day. It’s a pretty rich sense of belonging to feel once you tap in to the fact that you are very much a part of this Earth and a part of the whole system and that we are all in this together.

Watched a beautiful movie recently which communicated this visually. ‘Life in a Day.’ Directed by Kevin Macdonald. Produced by Ridley Scott. Distributed by National Geographic Films. Made from 4,500 hours of footage submitted in 80,000 submissions from 192 nations. Watch it.

Thank you, Earth and Nature.
Thank you, Life!

Now go outside and enjoy being alive!

Bud-break in Rutherford