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Still in Touch With the Land

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Oct 16, 2006 11:04am ET

This weekend was our annual apple-picking weekend. My oldest daughter can now scamper up the steep orchard hills easily—too easily, as she leaves me in the dust. My youngest daughter still needs to be carried sometimes, but she still managed to eat three whole apples by herself while we picked. She has her dad's appetite.

The weather was marvelous—sunny, crisp and cool. And it's been a great apple season in upstate New York. My personal favorite is the Jonagold—a big pale-green apple with sweet flavor backed by just a tinge of acidity. My daughters seem to like whatever they can reach.

As we walked through the orchard rows, we passed a few other families. Many of them had three generations represented and several of them were speaking Italian. I also heard Polish and one or two other languages. In every case, the oldest generation in the family was beaming as they showed their grandchildren the ropes.

I'm always pleasantly surprised when I see Old World culture and its connection to the land still going strong—especially here in the States. The farm seems under such attack these days—economically and socially. But it's something I've always envied, being a city-born and -bred kid. Maybe that's part of the reason I fell in love with wine—the agricultural aspect is just as important as sitting around the dinner table with the finished product.

What about you? Were you turned on to wine just by drinking it? Or did something else fuel your interest along the way?

Charles J Stanton
Eugene, OR —  October 16, 2006 10:23pm ET
I tried my hand at making cherry wine when I was 14 (we had relatives that grew cherries). Couldn't figure out why it ended up tasting like vinegar. Years later Dad told me he spiked it with white vinegar for the obvious reasons. He was in the wine importing business when I was in high school and college, so we ususally had it around the dinner table, and in spite of the vinegar episode I developed a taste for wine.

I suspect that most wine drinkers (particularly those of us with Mediterranean heritage) were around it growing up, and we just accepted it as a part of life
Alan Vinci
springfield, n.j. —  October 17, 2006 2:52pm ET
James, I agree with Charles in that I also grew up in a mediterranean heritage (Italian) and have been around homemade wine for a good part of my life. My true passion developed later in life when a couple that I had been good friends were collectors and shared many wonderful wines with me. I asked many questions about each varietal I tasted and they were more than happy to answer them. When they spoke of all the wineries that they had been to, I could feel all the passion and all the respect they had from their visits.They spoke with true conviction. At those times my interest developed into a passion.When I have a glass of wine now I always look back and ponder at those wonderful times spent with dear friends..I now know that a glass of wine is a celebration of life.....
Peter Czyryca
October 17, 2006 5:15pm ET
James - Jonagolds are THE bomb. I had never heard of them before picking some at a suburban Boston farm. Holy schnikeys was it tasty. Almost as good as dessert. I've almost choked twice though from the juice when I bite in!
Dan Jaworek
Chicago —  October 18, 2006 10:32am ET
James,I got into wine through my love of food and cooking. It was an extension of that. As such I'm always interested in my ingredients, where they come from, and their quality. I've always viewed wine, spirits, and beer as a product of a harvest. Sometimes with the over-oaked wines you question if they are the product of a VINEyard or a lumberyard but the connection remains. But nothing drags me right back into the mind set as when I smell a glass of calvados. It smells like autumn, apples, and the duck I'm thinking about making with it. Wine for me has never been something to collect and be in awe of. Its always been something to be poured, consumed, and shared......just like food. And its quality depends on this years weather...just like food. Dan J

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