DVQ for the third quarter in the Year of Corona

Greetings Friends, Aficionados, and Fellow Wine Travelers;

Returning to an earlier theme that I’ve explored in another quarterly, it would seem that my sense of time has not only eroded as regards hours, days, weeks, and months, but it now extends to quarters. I hereby give up the pretense; this is a quarterly newsletter in name only. So be it.

Has your summer been as unusual as ours? I would imagine so. When the lockdown first started, one thousand years ago in March, our attitude was, “that’s cute, now back to the shoot thinning.” It really had little impact on us at first, outside of the eating/drinking/sleeping/sloth/gluttony/avarice to excess that I’m sure we were alone in indulging in. We kept our trips to town to a minimum. We finished the tasting room. We leaf plucked, catch wire placed, hedged, sprayed, mowed, tilled, and all the other chores that make up the vast part of making really good wine.

Then we opened the tasting room on Memorial Day. It was rather apropos, since it was rather memorial. Friends and family flocked to favor us with their fraternal (and quite fashionable) fellowship. Business was more than brisk and by the time Tuesday morning rolled around Dragon Six and I were exhausted. And gladly so.

The tasting room has been a rousing success. I should qualify that somewhat. Has business been as robust as it probably would be without the COVID19 pandemic? No. But here’s the deal; if it weren’t for the tasting room and you wonderful people, we would be in a world of hurt. I will explain.

Before we opened the tasting room our business was limited to whatever we could sell on the internet combined with festivals and events up and down this, our beautiful Willamette Valley. You may have seen us at the Lavender Festival or perhaps, for those tough guys who have seen our wine tasting video, at the McKenzie Chainsaw Festival. Well, all those events got shut down, every single one of them. We did the Corvallis Wine Walk in the first week of March and the lockdown occurred soon after that. The bottom line is that if it weren’t for the tasting room, we’d be moving almost zero bottles of wine. And those bottles of wine are moving thanks to our amazing customers.

The COVID rules are bothersome, but not onerous. As the person running the tasting room, I truly appreciate that our outstanding customers have been, to a person, agreeable, amenable, and cheerfully compliant with the rules that we have had to implement. One reads these horror stories while “doom scrolling” (I’m guilty of it and you know you are as well) of enraged people barking, berating, and beating the help at some place of business because they’ve been asked to wear a mask. No such problems here at Dragon’s Vineyard and Wine Co. All of our customers have been simply outstanding and I, being inherently lazy, am humbly grateful that I haven’t had to go to fisticuffs with anyone. Not that it would be much of a fight. I am old and dislike getting hit in the face. I try to rule that out of my life these days.

So here we are at the end of August. The vineyard has rarely looked better. The canopy is deep, lush, verdant, and pulses with sunshine and life. The somnambulant clusters lazily hang, slowly engorging, slowly ripening, and one day soon we will get up and they will have reached veraison; the turning of the color from green to purple that will continue to dive deeper and deeper into that dark, almost onyx color that is the hallmark of the fully ripened Pinot berry. The physical labor is almost done; there is but the tidying up and the spraying. But the promise of the harvest is beginning to manifest itself. I can look up the hill into the vineyard and the deep emerald green of the canopy stands in sharp contrast to the dun, dusty grass. It is my favorite time of year. Mostly because I don’t have to mow the lawn anymore, because yardwork is not really my thing. I have not reached that stage in my dotage where a green, immaculately groomed yard is a thing to be desired and mowed five times a week. The dandelions that group themselves over the septic drain field in the front lawn have to be beaten back now and again, but that’s the extent of my activities in that arena. I go back and forth on mowing them; Teagan, our Irish Wolfhound, does look striking as she lays amongst them and slobbers all over her rawhide.

So here’s looking forward to a good harvest, a good autumn, a return to whatever normal is going to look like in the future and, of course, the return of our treasured clients to the tasting room for some surprises that Dragon Six has vinted for the Fall.


Pete Salerno

Destroyer of Gophers and Chief DRO (Dining Room Orderly. It’s an old Army KP thing.)