Friday, November 13, 2009

Our friend Melody....

Our hearts are heavy since yesterday. In the middle of bottling Nouveau, I received a call from Lonnie sharing the news with me that his wife--our dear friend--Melody had passed away a few hours earlier.

Those of you who are our customers may not have known her by name, but she had been a fixture at Allegro since the early 1980s. She first started coming here when John and Tim were starting out. I've seen pictures of her labeling, picking, working festivals. She did absolutely everything she could for us from the very beginning.  Most recently, you could find her working at the winery, at Tollgate, or sometimes even in Enola or Mechanicsburg.

The amazing thing about Melody--or, "Mel" as we called her--was that she was always thinking about us and rarely thought about herself. When my wife Kris and I came to Allegro, Mel was always the person we could count on. Without her, we would have never succeeded in having a stand at Central Market in York. She made that work. Whenever I would ask her to cover or pitch in somewhere, she would do it in a heartbeat...sometimes leaving groceries on the kitchen floor in order to rush off to Harrisburg to help out.

Always, whenever I asked for conflicts when it was scheduling time, she wouldn't share hers with me, only saying that I could schedule her anywhere, anytime. I tried not to ask too much of her, but she seemed to thrive on it. I remember once trying to send her home when she wasn't feeling well, and she thought I was crazy.

The memory that will most likely stick with me longest, though, is that she treated me like I was her little boy most of the time. Called me names like my mother called me. I think she felt like a mom to Allegro, and in a lot of ways she was. She took care of us, and in turn Allegro, I hope, brought her joy.

We'll miss you, Mel. Take care.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's Here.....

Well, it finally happened. I woke up this morning and noticed a heavy layer of frost outside. The thermometer is reading about 27F, which means all the leaves I worked so long this summer to protect from disease to ensure ripening are toast.

It was bound to happen, and we're fortunate that it happened so late this year. Back in 2001, we were frosted on October 8th. That would have spelled disaster for 2009. We weren't even starting to pick our early reds until after then. And the late ones? They would have ended up as rose wines.

The timing is great, though. My plan was to pick our Cabernet this weekend--Sunday, in fact. The frost hitting the leaves will cause them all to fall off by the end of the day. Tomorrow, when we go to pick the grapes, the work will be a bit easier for us, as we won't have to search for the clusters. With bare canes, the grapes will be the only thing left hanging on the vines.

Next week, we'll get all the nets put away, and leave the bare and clean vineyard for a couple months. I've already been thinking about pruning. I'm strange that way, usually thinking 4-6 months ahead about vineyard operations. The empty vineyard will be a great place to walk through on a snowy day and dream about the future wine we will grow there. And how we will grow it will start with the first pruning cut sometime in January......