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Dream a Little Dream

After reading this detailed article on what factors determine the cost of a bottle of wine, I had to make some minor modifications to a dream of mine. You see, in explaining why wine costs what it does, the author talks briefly about the rising price of vineyard land in California's renowned Napa Valley:

"And if you want to buy your own land, get in line. Vineyard prices have soared over the years. In the 1980's, Far Niente, a respected winery in Napa, bought a property for $18,000 an acre. A vineyard it bought five years ago cost $100,000 an acre, which is now the average. A vineyard with a top pedigree could run to $300,000 an acre."
This simply will not do. I have had secret plans for some time now to drop all this programming nonsense (after a scant six months of professional experience) to own a vineyard, working meticulously and methodically to produce the finest wine in the land. With such a high price per acre and my current salary being what it is, this is not within the realm of possibility.

So after putting some serious thought into my imaginary future, I have come up with a plan. Since I obviously won't have the money to purchase an extravagant vineyard, I have to use the resources and connections that are available to me. My father-in-law has for some time known the family Markowitsch, producers of some of the finest riesling in all of Austria. He knows Johann, the father, quite well but now the business has been passed on to the next generation, in the form of his son Lukas. I was fortunate enough to visit the Markowitsch vineyard in June and it was quite impressive. Lukas took time to show us every stage of production and even struggled to explain the process to me in English, as difficult as it was. I would like to think that although our meeting was brief, we laid the groundwork for a good future relationship. He gave me his email address and ever since I've been planning.

So here's where the aforementioned plan comes in. Using this family connection, I start a conversation with Lukas on the growing demands on a business owner in an increasingly technological world. He talks about the website and production databases, we finish a bottle of riesling, I namedrop Baudrillard and Barrett although I've read nothing by either of them. Eventually we both come to the conclusion that the benefits of our professional cooperation are too appealing to pass up. The Souzeks pack up and move to a rustic farmhouse with an ambitious yard near Carnuntum, yet within striking distance of Vienna. For a few months, I work closely with Lukas, hawkishly observing every step of production like an efficiency expert, although I know nothing about making wine. From the knowledge acquired during this initial stage, I develop a website and several custom applications to analyze production data, increase efficiency and improve marketability, all the while maintaining a healthy respect for the kind of time-honored, low-tech, natural processes that have always produced the highest quality of wine. It will be a scalable and robust solution, yet I will wear wool pants, vest and cap every day (do your homework: Michael Corleone goes back to Italy, The Godfather). As time passes, my knowledge of the process grows and eventually I am involved in most decisions concerning wine production (as it turns out, my instincts are very good). Within five years, several award-winning vintages will be produced. Eventually a snobbish critic in New York will come across a bottle of our riesling that will change his life. He will sing its praises, calling it the greatest riesling ever produced (as a side note, the critic will reconsider the direction of his life, leading him to reconcile with his estranged wife and disillusioned young son). Sales will soar and distribution will reach every corner of the world, yet we will remain humble, enjoying a simple life in the rolling hills of Lower Austria, the kind in which children can frolick and dogs can romp.

That's pretty much all I've got for now. I think there's a chance that a good percentage of the above could actually occur, if perhaps with a bit less exaggeration. After all, riesling is in now, haven't you heard? Are you listening out there, Lukas?

[wine links via the morning news]


Until you can buy that vineyard of your own, or happen into your little scenario :-), make your own wine at home. I've been doing it for a few years now, and while the wine isn't fantastic, a few of the batches I've made have become quite good with a little aging. Find a home-brewers store near you, get the supplies, and a concentrated juice kit (yes, they even have riesling!). It's fairly cheap, and very easy!

Posted by Bill at April 14, 2003 11:43 AM