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Witches are nice, Witches are mean, Emeralds are shiny and Gruner is Green

Harvest is winding down here at the vineyard. We work hard all year but these past few weeks have been quite frenzied with excitement. Grapes are being picked from the vines and trucked down to the wine cellar to be processed. We’ve had lots of visitors come for our final tours to see how their wine gets from the vine to the bottles that they take home. This past weekend was our final walking tour of the season. I think it was also the largest tour of the season. To get a photo of the entire group gathered around dad, we had to go toward the top of the parking lot. It was awesome watching everyone follow him into the vineyard and then the few late comers chasing behind to catch up. As they walked down the hill, I was humming to myself, “we’re off to see the wizard.”

The Wizard of Oz has been on my mind a lot lately because of our upcoming Verhext weekend. In case you haven’t heard, on October 26th and 27th we will be asking everyone if they are a good witch or a bad witch when we offer a complimentary food and wine pairing and hold a food drive for our local emergency food pantry, Shepherd House. Our food and wine pairing was inspired by the Wizard of Oz too. We will be offering flying monkey muffins. Frankly, the flying monkeys in the movie creeped me out a bit, but these muffins look awesome. We’ll also be making up batches of our very own “witches brew.” Some of you may know it better as Muller Time. I think only good witches would drink it though, because it smells like warmth, happiness, and kindness in a glass.

Did you know this year is the 75th anniversary of the classic film The Wizard of Oz? There have been celebrations all over the country and the movie was re-released to theaters too. Unfortunately, they will not let me into theaters to see it, so I guess I have to wait for the box set. I’m always intrigued by Hollywood and how interpretations from books end up on film. The Wizard of Oz was shot in Technicolor. For those of you born in the 70s, 80s and later, this might not seem like that big of a deal, but apparently up until that time period, much of what people saw on film was in black, white and grey. In L. Frank Baum’s book, “The Wonderful World of Oz,” the film-famous ruby slippers were silver. Silver is not a very exciting color on film–or at least it wasn’t then–so they made them red.

Ironically, the film was considered a flop when it was released in 1939, yet today it is considered one of the top 10 films of all time. At that time, The New Yorker called it a “stinkeroo.” Even though it was a quote-unquote flop, it still received an Academy Award for best song, Over the Rainbow. I think this just proves perspective is reality. Many people love this film, it’s their own perspective, but turns out it’s also reality.

There were four witches in the book I’d be willing to bet you only remember two of them after seeing the movie. The Wicked Witch of the West, who by the way did not wear the eye patch from the book in the movie. Her green costume-paint was poisonous and she had to have all of her meals via a straw during the filming, so as not to become sick. I don’t know about you, but every meal through a straw doesn’t sound appetizing to me.

Names of actors also intrigue me. Did you know that Toto’s real name was Terry? That strikes me funny as he was a terrier. Did you know that Terry appeared in about 15 films? These are things that dogs notice and retain and I am happy to share the facts. Also, Judy Garland sounds like such a pretty name. It too was a stage name. Her birth name was Frances Ethel Gumm. Prior to the film, she and her sisters, aptly named The Gumm Sisters, were vaudeville performers. She’s from Minnesota, just like our Gary here at the winery. Maybe that explains why he’s always singing too. He’s told me he has been to her childhood home and that it’s a museum now.

The say imitation is the highest form of flattery. In my research I have learned that the Wizard of Oz has been spoofed or “covered” in so many different genres from Broadway, to Scooby Do and from The Muppets to Motown—remember The Wiz? In The Wiz they sang, “Come on and Ease on Down the Road.” You know, I’d like to invite you to do that. Ease on down or up the winding roads to our winery. We have so many activities planned and we’d love to see you here. This coming weekend, October 16th and 17th we, along with the other Lehigh Valley wineries, are celebrating the great Chambourcin grape. We will be honoring Kathy’s Nonna Flo by making and serving her famous wine-infused marinara sauce or “Gravy” as she called it. Come and raise a glass as we toast her memory. Kathy might even tell you a funny story or two about Nonna Flo. She certainly was a character.

Nonna Flo

Then plan to come to eat, drink and be scary on October 26th or 27th. Bring along a non-perishable food item for our food drive and we’ll have a special “treat” for you. No trick, we will. If you have a witch hat or outfit, please wear it. Also, I’m talking with dad about this, but have been thinking we should set up some special “broom only” parking spots. We’ll see what he says. Another irony here is that the broom was featured in the movie, but in the book it was an umbrella. I’m hoping we won’t be needing umbrellas that weekend. We’ll be taking a survey, so be prepared to answer if you are a good witch or a bad witch.

Finally, I mentioned Emeralds are shiny and Gruner is green. Many of you have been inquiring about the Stone Cellar Gruner Veltliner and asking if we have heard from Australia and The Six Nations Wine Competition. We have. This week we received the email highlighting all of the trophy winners. Sadly, we were not on that list. It was a disappointment but again I take you back to my theories on perspective. We have to put this in perspective too. The competition judges selected 100 wines from the United States. Current statistics state there are 8,000 wineries in the US at this time. We produce about 20 wines, so even if we are conservative and say each of those wineries produce 10 wines, that’s 80,000 different wines they could choose from. They could only select 100 out of those and we were one of the 100. One of the 100 is an honor and we’re very happy about that. We know that lots of our visitors love the Gruner Veltliner and come from places like California, New York, New Jersey and many other metropolitan areas just to taste it and we are extremely happy about that too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s post and I do welcome your questions and comments. You may always email me at gruveegruner@galenglen.com with questions and I promise I will include them in upcoming blogs.

Until next time…
Wine wags,
Clemens