The Winery Down the Road…

Opportunities aren’t just handed out on a silver platter.

My mother was a great one for reminding me of that…

She and my father went after what they wanted slowly rising through the ranks, carefully weighing each upward move as they rubbed shoulders with the educated elite populating the ruling classes at the end of the second world war and taking advantage of the new world order that was opening up to them.

Networking became the ladder on which my father climbed to the top of his career, my mother behind him bearing cocktails and appetizers…on a silver platter.

As for me, once I married I gave up any thoughts of upward mobility and contentedly spent thirty years building a life that revolved around family, church, homeschooling, theatre and friends.

When we sold our first and only home and bought Footlights I realized I didn’t have the luxury of another three decades to slowly build a new community.  I had to accelerate my involvement at church, and quickly make friends in my neighborhood…without being pushy.

Hubs and I were invited, the day after we moved in, to Pizza Night on Windy Lane, an offshoot of Rigsby.  We accepted gratefully and met most of our neighbors in one fell swoop.

Beer and wine were included and all we had to do was show up and get to know our fellow Weston-ites.

I used all my interview skills, learned from the five years I’d hosted a show about Homeschooling, and felt that I had a pretty good grasp on the culture of the lane by the time we set off for Florida to fulfill a house-sitting commitment made in January.

When we returned, two months later, we were greeted like long lost friends!

One particular couple were pivotal in our rapid assimilation into the almost retired crowd.  They not only were from England, they were from Kent,

and not only from Kent but from Broadstairs where my parents retired and we holidayed with the children all through their childhoods.

“Whether we like it or not, this is too much of a coincidence,” I said to them, “we must be friends!”

And friends we are!

Sue invited me to everything she was a part of.

A local book club, a garden club, an International group,

She also invited us to help them unload 2 tons of grapes later in the year at Caudalie Crest, their winery half a mile down the road.

I started receiving emails asking for help with the wine-making and soon Hubs and I were showing up for crushes, hefting and lugging thousands of pounds of grapes in exchange for food and sticky fun.


We obtained our TABC licenses and helped pour wine at events.

We helped with large buses that rolled down the drive on Saturdays bearing 40 Winos on a wine-tasting tour, loud and belligerent, friendly and funny.

We helped with small luncheons, bustling in the kitchen, serving tables, fraternizing with customers, and cleaning up in return for lunch and a bottle or two of wine to take home with us.

I enjoyed becoming involved in a small family business, watching it grow, enjoying the thrill of success without the headaches.

With my restaurant background I was in my element and began to think,

“How cool would it be to work at a winery?”

I added it to my bucket list and eventually Sue and her Hubs, Ray, decided they needed to hire a part-time pourer,

“Would you consider me?” I tentatively asked in a text.

“Every other Saturday and the occasional evening,” Sue texted back.

On my first day of work I was a mess of nerves.

“What if I get someone who doesn’t like the wine?

“What if I make a mistake when ringing up a sale?

“What if they know more about wine making and grapes than I do?

“What if I mis-pronounce a varietal?”

“Wikipedia does a fairly good job at outlining the wine-making process,” Ray said and I went home to study Caudalie’s wines and make notes on how to make red, white and rose.

With my first year under my belt I find I enjoy meeting new people, who are always amazed at how long the winery has been there, and selecting wines for the regulars who pop in to enjoy the countryside and relax in the casual atmosphere of Caudalie.

I have now turned to the next item on my bucket list:  “Getting to know horses.”

There’s a stable at the top of the lane.  The owner has about twenty beautiful horses that she boards,


and a few of her own, plus a mule and two miniature Herefords.

She’s told me I can go up and meet the hoofed staff any time but she is so busy I half want her to hail me as I pass on my daily walk,

“Vivienne, I need help, can you spare an hour?”

Hmmm…I suppose once Pizza Night starts up again I may just have to tell her that if her stable girl ever needs a break I’d be happy to come and heft hay-bales and do some mucking out…

Who knows, one day I may be as comfortable around horses as I am around dogs and be offered a part-time job with those gentle giants!

Share this:

No comments so far!

Leave a Comment