On the eve of my thirtieth birthday, a few short weeks ago, I dreamt that the world was enclosed by infinite darkness. I wept because I knew I would not see the sun again, and because now nothing would be able to grow. The soil, the essence of life, would no longer bear trees and fruit, but serve only as a vast grave. Then, the moon came out and tried to take the place of the sun, to light my corner of the world. I explained to the moon that it wouldn't work, because it was the sun that lights the world, and things must be as they always have been. When I awoke, none of this made sense and I found myself safely in bed, the sun I've always known peeking through the bamboo shades.
Looking back, I believe my dream revealed my fear of change at entering a new decade of living. I know that change is inevitable and essential, and life is constantly reinventing itself. Yet, people need constants; something eternal as the sun. I am excited at the prospect of my next thirty years-the experiences, new friends, wines, the uncertainty that is as exciting as it is terrifying. But along with these new years, these unknowns, I must also have some sound things to depend on.
Just as burgeoning possibilities will undoubtedly hold a future of happiness and exaltation, it will also unavoidably hold despair, anger,grief, chaos. There cannot be light without darkness. My husband is forever reminding me that beauty cannot be perceived unless it is contrasted by ugliness, as joy is more profound when we have known misery. These opposing forces are always in a state of flux. Beauty then, for me, often lies in what is constant. By constant I don't mean the monotonous, I mean the perseverance of the universe; the continuation of a lifelong dream; a fifty year marriage; a thirty year old vine, twisting it's way toward the sun. These are fundamental, and I am enamored by the faithful endurance of it all. I depend on and long for this kind of beauty.
This year, turning thirty, I wanted a wine that would somehow encompass all of these things. It needed to be complex because life is complex, but it also needed to be straightforward and unpretentious. It needed to show maturity, a sense of place, and have great depth. Most of all, it should show resilience and speak of the earth in which it grew.
As always, I needn't have searched long, since the wine I was looking for I found right under my own nose, harvested in local soil. The wine was Lenz Old Vines Merlot, 2001 vintage. I learned that the winery was founded the year I was born, in 1978, and the vines that produced the beautiful Merlot were as old as I am. So it was meant to be. And what have we to show for all these years, those vines and I? I have spent many days contemplating my faults, my achievements. The old vines, though, have been quite prosperous, and the wine showed every nuance of character I had been searching for. When I tasted it for the first time, I felt at home. Just as home feels, it didn't confront me with strange new tastes, or speak of exotic places. There was in its flavor more earth than fruit, and an elegance that demanded respect. It had weathered time, and now, lovely and graceful and mellow, it would tell me all about life on the North Fork. A beautiful journey under the sun and the moon and the rain.
Some people tasted the wine and were equally enchanted, while others didn't seem to notice it at all. This is the nature of quiet beauty; a whisper rather than a loud voice. I don't claim to be wise at thirty, far from it. What I know is this. There will be occasions when I will be titillated by the aroma of new oak and young, bright fruit. It is like being romanced by the moon, which has its time and place, if only to contrast the brilliance of the sun. For most of the days that remain for me, though, I will continue to seek out the beauty of tradition, here among these legends, these old vines.