Vine: It happened in an instant. And I am very lucky to be here to tell you about it. Never get in a hurry in the vineyard. It is spraying time in the vineyard with the first round for powdery mildew spray. I use my ATV with a sprayer mounted on the back. This is fine for fairly level areas, but on steep areas you have to be very careful. I wasn’t. I had done about 80% of my vineyard and was down in the steep area where it has been terraced, flat area (more or less) about 6′ – 8′ wide then a steep slope the grapes grown on and then another “terrace”. It is too steep at the ends of the row to turn either up or down hill with that much weight on the back. So I back down a row, spray one side, then back back down and spray the other, then move to the next terrace/row.
I had about an hour of spraying left and my ATV was overheating. It needs to go into the shop, but I wanted to get this first round of spraying completed. So I would spray about six rows, turn it off and let it cool (and put in more antifreeze) while I hand sprayed out the rows to kill weeds. I had about eight rows to go and so I topped off the tank and wanted to get it done before the ATV started boiling off antifreeze. Big mistake. Never get in a hurry in the vineyard. As I was backing down one of the rows (visibility is limited because I have on a mask and goggles) I was going a little too fast and got too far to the uphill side. My rear wheel (front wheel going backwards) started up the hill tilting me toward down hill. Just then the front wheel hit the hill and jerk the handle bars in my hand causing my thumb to hit the accelerator and I was going over. Just that quick.
I vaguely remember hitting the ground and seeing the ATV about to roll over me. As I felt my body being compressed I knew I was in for either death or serious damage. And then it stopped. We had hit the trellis system on the row below and it was holding. The ATV was on an angle and upside down and on top of me. I was compressed against the wires under the ATV, but managed to scramble out from under it in case it broke free. You can do a lot when the adrenalin is pumping. I had the wind knocked out of me and my back and stomach hurt from being compressed under it, so I just stayed on my hands and knees and wondered how hurt I really was. After a few minutes, I could get up and take stock. I had a gash in one leg, back and stomach muscles hurting, but there appeared to be no permanent damage.
The next day I felt like I was in a fight with every muscle hurting and a few bumps and bruises I did not realize I had, and she who cannot be mentioned in this blog has restricted me from the vineyard. I got some hombres to come up and get the ATV upright and out of the vineyard. It took eight of us. I know this. I am very lucky to be alive today. That was a very close call and it all happened in an instant when I was in a hurry. Won’t happen again. I have seen the light. Still got to get those last eight rows done. Maybe I could get trainer wheels for my ATV and she will let me back in there. Right now I am having a major time out.
One last thought about the incident. As I lay in bed that evening (Wednesday) and could not sleep because it hurt too much to turn over I considered this: Maybe I am getting too old for this. When I hurt my knee (ruptured patellar tendon), in the vineyard, well those things happen. But when I saw my ATV about to roll over me, that could be the last day of my life on this planet. It is time to think deeply about what I can do, how I do it, and be a whole lot more careful with the days I have left here with those I love.
Wine: On a lighter note, and yes life does go on, last weekend was Rock and Rhones, my favorite tasting event of the year. My niece and her husband were coming up with some friends from Chicago, along with my sister-in-law, her husband, and mutual friends. There are five wineries involved, most of them outstanding, and they pair food with their wines. Things that stick in my mind was a wonderful pairing of parchment salmon with Rousanne at Narrow Gate, Frank’s wonderful Syrah (also at Narrow Gate), Grenache paired with lamb burgers at Holly’s Hill and tasting the Mourvedre Classique which has my grapes in it (not to mention the East Slope Syrah), and on to Miraflores where the Methode Ancienne Syrah was killer with Christan Masse’s wonderful sandwiches. Oh did I forget the Mourvedre and the Petite Syrah at Miraflores?
Then I took Katy’s (my niece’s) two friends to Bumgarner to taste his Pinot, Cab, and Tempranillo (No Brian was not part of the Rock & Rhone tasting). Of course by this time the two thought I was the smartest wine person in the world, and wondered why we had not come here first because the wines were so good (they could only take a limited amount back to Chicago). Don’t you just love the effects of wine. Not only do they think I am brilliant (disproved by the above), but I saved the best for last. Now Brian’s wines are exceptional, but in a world where you are tasting all day (and these girls were not spitting), the last wine you drink is always the best. Then when you get home and actually taste them, you think, what the hell was I thinking. Well lucky for them, Brian’s wines are that good, but so were the others.
Then we went to my place where we sat on the patio overlooking the vineyard, I started a fire in the outside fireplace, and we ate sausages and barbequed chicken while we watched the sun set. That is why it is a joy to live up here. If you want to know more about the vineyard, go to LightnerVineyards.com.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDY. I WILL BE CAREFUL. I LOVE YOU SON.