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artisanal winemakingDuring this Covid 19 pandemic we are learning a lot about the American character in the 21st century.

We are learning that vast swaths of American society are undisciplined, impatient, and far too enamored with the idea they can manipulate reality to conform to their wishes. Even the minor discomfort of wearing a mask in public is just too much to bear, and having to endure life without salons, gyms, or restaurants is just beyond the pale.

And what about the 123,000 deaths and counting? Don’t think about that. “It’s just the sniffles”. “I don’t know anyone who died. The numbers are inflated.” “It won’t happen to me—only unhealthy people die from it.” For any obstacle there is always a rationalization that will set you free.

Yet there are redoubts in society where such infantile behavior and magical thinking is out of place (including of course the front line health care workers who know the score).

Take artisanal or natural wine making for instance. Winemakers know they are not in control and can’t make reality conform to their wishes. They know they are at the mercy of weather, geography, and all the unpredictable unknowns of the wine making process and they embrace that uncertainty

They are disciplined, knowing that, when its time to harvest, the relentless weeks of 16 hour days are just part of the job.

And they are above all patient. Wine making is about watchful waiting—waiting for the grapes to ripen, for the tannins to soften, for the volatile acidity to recede. If you want to know if that experiment with extended maceration will help your wines age, you might have to wait 10 years.

Artisanal wine making goes against the grain of the modern ethos of instant gratification—all the more reason to make sure it survives.