The last day we pulled away from Slack Winery in Rice’s car was only the third day that we had spent there. Admittedly, that is not very long to get to know any place, even though each of our visits had lasted five hours long. Although five hours sounds like a long time, Rice and I still felt that we didn’t learn as much as we had hoped because we were mostly consigned to menial tasks that took a really long to complete, which meant we only learned a few key skills.
We could talk to you about dirt and gardening or the staggering amount of sanitation necessary to recycle champagne bottles for beer – heck, Rice could probably hit you up with the best sauerkraut-making techniques – but in terms of other aspects of farm life, we would probably be unable to tell you much about it. We know even less about the winemaking process, since we had absolutely no contact with it. How ironic that Rice and I were assigned to work at a winery and ended up not learning anything about wine at all.
But hey, that’s why we were honest with that blog subtitle.
Instead, Rice and I ended up taking away much larger messages from it. Though menial, we enjoyed the work. It was satisfying to see ourselves accomplish things through the strength of our own hands. Beginning the growing process of vegetables meant that we got to hear Tucker tell us that we could come back and reclaim the fully-grown products of our labor whenever we wanted, which meant free potatoes amidst other prizes!
When we participated in the beer bottling process during our last day, we came away from it with a free bottle of beer that we had personally scrubbed, shook, sanitized, capped, and sweated over. When Tucker handed us the bottles that Rice and I picked out for our free beer – I wanted the clear bottle because I thought it looked pretty, despite not being a consumer of alcohol – it was powerful feeling.
Through our volunteer service, we also got to meet some awesome people and received some great hospitality. Tucker and Anna were both so kind and fun to work with; they were always cracking jokes or embarking on interesting conversations. I was continuously impressed with how knowledgeable they were on a variety of subject matters. Regarding me, they also had the patience that made me want to strive to better myself and redeem my own shortcomings.
In terms of hospitality, Tucker and Anna never once made us feel uncomfortable about being at Slack Winery invading their living space. In addition, they made sure that we ate delicious lunches while we were working for them. On the very first day, Tucker and Anna provided the materials for some of the most delicious tacos I have ever eaten. Not only did they share what they had with us, but they also cooked the ingredients for us, which made the lunch seem more personal, like we were a family sharing a meal.
Thus, at the end of the day, even though working at Slack Winery was an assignment for a class, we were still glad that we had the chance to do it. Personally, I would not have ever expected myself to work at a winery, but through this experience, I was able to step out of my comfort zone of scholarly inactiveness and into the labor-heavy, hands-on world of the winery. Although this is such a cliché, there are definitely things that you can’t learn without stepping outside a classroom!
For now, though, it’s goodbye to Slack Winery and our volunteer service. It’s also goodbye to our class, Books That Cook, and the Spring 2013 semester, Rice and my junior year of college.
It’s also goodbye to this blog. Thank you for taking the time to read it! I hope that you have gotten something out of it.
Until next time,
David Rice and Jessica Chen