Pinot Diplomacy…

Make the world go away, and get it off of my shoulder… I can’t seem to get the old Eddy Arnold (famously covered by Willie Nelson) song out of my head these days. I long for the days when we could just enjoy a bottle of Pinot, a feast and friends… when the most divisive subjects were Old World vs New World or organic vs natural vs conventional wines. In some ways, what used to be so important to us seems quaint in light of the pandemic, climate change driven fires and a divisive political landscape.

We like to think that what we do is important to those who care about what they enjoy and consume. We are not going to fix the problems of the world but we can offer a salve during difficult times and a center piece of a celebration in good times.

I attended high school in the 70s in a small central coast California town where kids identified with one of three groups; the cowboys, the hippies, or the nerds. Since I had long hair, you know what camp I was in. The cowboys felt they were the original and authentic inhabitants of the region. Most were born into cattle ranching families. They pretended to despise the hippies and would do such fun things as capture a hippie and use the sheep shears to cut their hair or hang one by their feet in the barn. Sounds violent but no one was physically hurt…only their pride. The classic, annual face-off occurred every halloween. Each group would “arm” themselves with eggs, fruit and vegetables they had collected throughout the year and, for maximum effect, left in the sun for months to rot. The hippies, along with some of the nerds, would take over the rooftops of the two-block, old-town main street while the cowboys would fill their pickup beds with kids and “ammunition”. They would then speed down main street while the kids in the back hurled rotten eggs at the hippies on the buildings and the hippies would attempt to score one in the back of the pickups. All the while, the local sheriff (whose two sons were on the cowboy team) would stand by and watch. Amazingly, no one was seriously injured and once all the “ammo” was depleted, the two groups would meet up at the park or cemetery and one of those trucks would show up with a keg of cheap beer, a cooler of cheap wine and a bottle of 151 in the back and the two groups would no longer be adversaries.

Years later, some of those cowboys looked me up and came to visit the winery where we sat in the cave, opened a bottle of Pinot, reminisced about our “adversarial” days and enjoyed each others company. Instead of making the world go away, maybe we need more Pinot diplomacy.

Rob Sinskey