Coda: Allegro Vivace

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October 2009


by Jeff Cox, Beer and Wine Merchandiser

Ah, October. Sigh ... Over here on the dark side of the hill, we’re hard-pressed to regard the coming of autumn as anything less than a passing — of light, warmth and a generally more sunny way of being in the world.

Here, where time is measured by clocks, calendars and the metronome of the day-to-day, the change in season means little more than a different set of clothes, turning on the heat, the wipers and a few more trips to the video store. In our souls, as the late-summer, high-lonesome twilight fades to a shuffling twelve-bar blues, we’re gearing up to hunker down. It’s time to bide our time.

In the real world, it’s a different story. Over the Cascades, along the Yakima, the Columbia, and in vine-laced, terrestrial temples to Dionysos throughout the hemisphere, it’s harvest.

In places where time is measured in the rhythms of sun, rain, wind, heat, cold, pruning, bud break, flowering, fruit set, veraison and ripening fruit, the volume crescendos first to forte, then fortissimo as the tempo quickens from mid-summer’s languid moderato to allegro vivace. It’s showtime, baby.

In the symphony of a year in the vineyard, summer is an adagio in a major key, lush and legato, a reverie before early autumn’s exuberant coda, a climax of solar and human energy.

We reap what we sow. Some of us hear the rhythms of different drums — and that makes all the difference (as it were).

Here, we have things to do. We whine when it’s too cold, too hot, too windy, too rainy, too dry. Anything outside 70 degrees, fair and calm makes us actually notice that there’s weather, distracts us from our projects. Seasons are things that happen to us, making us turn on the metaphoric windshield wipers on our hell-bent trip to get the next thing — whatever that is.

Meanwhile, we fuel our bodies and souls with low-hanging fruit, spoon-fed by the titans of industry. It’s straight 4/4 time, formulaic pabulum for people on the move, easily digested without the distraction of having to truly taste, discern or discover. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are as many crazy, enchanting, amazing rhythms — and flavors — as there are stars in the sky.

One Piedmontese viticoltore summed it up perfectly: “If you start in your twenties, you maybe only get 50 chances to make the best wine, to learn how to let vineyard and vintage truly sing in your wine ...” Likewise, we have just so many chances to savor all the rhythms and flavors the universe has to offer — but we can open as many bottles or turn the dial as often as we like.

Jeff Cox

About the author

Jeff Cox is the wine and beer merchandiser at PCC. Over the years, he's built close relationships with vineyards worldwide and in our neck of the woods. He's even worked with select local vineyards to create some of the spectacular wines we carry.

In addition to this monthly column, check out his featured wines list.

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