It was a day spent on a school bus that took us from winery to winery somewhere in Missouri. At each stop, we would pile off of the bus and spread out blankets. We would kick off our shoes and arrange snacks while bottles were purchased and glasses were filled.
At the first stop, we watched a polka band and dancers in traditional German clothing before heading up to the hillside of the winery. We joined hundreds of other people who climbed about on the steep hill while balancing wine in one hand and fancy cheese in the other. We passed around tupperware containers full of olives, nuts, and crackers while we people-watched, caught up with friends we had seen the night before and friends we hadn’t seen in a year. We drank the wines and laughed and made congratulatory toasts while we clung to a hill that seemed determined to throw us off of it.
The second stop was a hokey old-west town full of tiny plastic cups of beer, resort guests who weren’t ready for our arrival, and a dropped Oreo that lead us to our new motto in life: “It’s in the past. Just leave it in the olden-times.”
At the last stop we watched the sun set over the fields of grapevines. Our loud conversations turned soft as the sky turned from blue to pink to orange and the sun disappeared behind the leaves. We gathered the blankets and climbed back on the yellow bus, headed for a house that would greet us with more food and coffee in an effort to sober us up.
There would be drunken arguments about music and sloppy declarations of love and hate and even death. There would be blueberry pancakes and Advil and more beer the next day. But as we drove away from the winery nestled in soft rolling hills, there was contentment. Another successful wine trip. Another Dionysian celebration, enveloped in the All-American tradition of a road trip.
The wine in our travel case would be shunned by our friends who considered themselves serious-wine drinkers. But home alone, on the occasional weeknight, we would open a bottle and pour it generously into the food we were preparing. We would eat and drink a glass of the wine and look at each other with knowing smiles. The bottle was full of sunsets and laughter. And while our tongues couldn’t taste it, our hearts knew it was there.
- Hermannhof Winery – 330 East First Street, Hermann, MO 65041
- Cedar Creek Lodge – 1401 Olive Road, New Haven, MO 63068