Thursday, July 7, 2016

They Taste like WHAT?

One harvest dinner, only a couple years into owning the winery, I had my oldest brother Steve come out from Wisconsin.  I was getting more and more familiar with the California Wine Country way of life, or so I thought.  Definitions of dinner and stuff you can eat is different out here, obviously.  This was made very apparent one year when one of the courses was barbecued quail.  My brother gave me a look.  He didn't know what to think.  Nor did I, especially after seeing one of our growers eat not just the quail, but the bones.  “The bones!” I thought.  My brother was, well, I don’t know which would be the better word— ‘disgusted’?  ‘Disturbed’?  It may sound like I’m being judgmental, but I’m not.  I was a little bit taken by the demonstration of the old school wine country farmer mentality.  Nothing goes to waste.  This same grower also told me that he used to eat robins and their bones growing up.  Now this was a bit hard to hear, but it’s the way out here.  That wine country farmer mentality, especially families that are 4th or 5th, or 6th generation, this is just what they do.

Once we started talking about it, the whole table knew what was going on.  And everyone was reacting.  This grower kept on eating quail, and the bones… crunch, crunch, CRUNCH.  Everyone was looking, but he just kept going.  Looking at my brother, he couldn’t wait to leave the table.  Again, I’m not judging, I’m just sharing how casually and freely he ate these bones.  When he was asked about how they tasted, he compared them to eating robin bones as a kid.  In my head, I was like, “HUH?” I still am, but this reminded me that this is where I’m supposed to be, here in wine country for experiences like this.  I still have dinner with this grower from time to time, but not when he’s fixing gamey meats, or any birds.

My brother hasn’t been out here for a harvest dinner since.  But I’m here, living the wine country way of life and this is just what you find at the table sometimes.  People eating quail, and their bones.  THEIR BONES.  I still have a hard time saying it, but it happens.  I can’t look at a quail now the same way, I’ll tell you.  I’ll get over it eventually.  That same grower now brings over abalone, meats from his hunting outings, among other things.  This was part of building the relationship.  In wine country, relationships are what sustain the community, what builds businesses and make life out here so enjoyable.

I’ve owned Dutcher Crossing for almost ten years now, and these instances keep coming up.  They’ll only happen here in Sonoma County, I’m convinced.  I can’t wait to post the other stories I have.  This is actually pretty mild in comparison.  I mean, eating robin bones isn’t something that happens every day, or really ever in the lives of most people.  But, just wait and see what other stories I have.  Just wait….

Oh, and Steve still won’t come out for harvest dinners.

All my best,


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