Monday, November 19, 2007

Episode Two

Hearing from so many of you regarding Episode One was a real pleasure. The main purpose for this blog is to reconnect with some of you and to stay connected with all of you.

One thing I learned from reading your notes is that some of you don’t have a very good picture of where we are. Some of you didn’t even know we were living in Mexico almost full time now.

After spending several winters in Copala, Sinaloa, Mexico, we were struck by some basic truths.

It was too hot in Copala to spend more than a few months there in the winter. Four or five months in the middle of winter in Mexico are just as short a growing season as four or five months of summer in Alaska.
The space we had to work with in Copala was very limited.
We really wanted to grow grapes which were never going to grow in the thorn forest environment of Copala.

After much consideration, we decided to look for another place. We were already familiar with Parras de la Fuente, Coahuila, Mexico. Traveling back and forth from Texas to the west coast of Mexico, we had passed through the community several times, and always found time to walk through the vineyards and buy wine - probably the very best dry wine produced in Mexico.
The location seemed ideal, but we couldn’t seem to find anything to buy. Then, as luck would have it, we met Nacho Chacon, the owner of Antigua Hacienda de Perote. As he told us, he was transforming the old hacienda into a resort - an adobe a day.

Framed by deep arroyos on the east and west and nestled into mountains in the south, the views are spectacular. Nacho made us a deal we couldn’t refuse. He had no property that he wanted to sell, but he did give us permission to grow as many grapes as we wanted and to do as much gardening as we could do on the entire estate of approximately 500 acres. Needless to say, that was a bit more than we had bargained for, but so far, the deal we made with him more than 18 months ago couldn’t be sweeter.

We have a very small house with a large garden that extends down the side of the western arroyo affording the two of us the very best views on the property. Sheltered by a giant pecan tree, we have shade on the north side of the building almost all day. On week-ends, tourists who come to the resort, mostly from Monterrey, Saltillo, and Torreon, provide plenty of excitement. For the most part, we have the place to ourselves from Sunday evening through Friday afternoon.

On April 1, 2007 we planted 153 grape vines and I am happy to report that they all grew more than we could possibly imagine. We look forward to making a small amount of wine next fall from our own berries. This year we made wine using grapes from the neighboring vineyard.

Parras is located almost exactly half-way between Torreon and Saltillo. Both cities are large enough to support several American-style box stores including Office Depot, Home Depot, Sam’s Club and H.E.B., a huge Texas-based grocery store. With all those shopping opportunities, there is little chance of experiencing any kind of serious deprivation. Parras itself is a community of about 40,000 people; almost all our needs can be met locally. We have three decent sized grocery stores, several clothing stores, a big pharmacy, three banks and video rentals in addition to a raft of small specialty stores and dozens of tiendas, tiny neighborhood stores that sell a little bit of everything.

Using a map which shows both South Texas and Northern Mexico, find Big Bend National Park and go south and slightly east. If your finger is on Monterrey, you've gone too far east. You should find Parras just south of the main road between Torreon and Saltillo.That’s Parras and that’s where we are. You are cordially invited to drop by for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday afternoon about two o’clock. Come across the Rio Grande River and through the Chihuahuan Desert. Turn south at Paila and slow down to enjoy the grapevines at San Lorenzo. You will enter Parras on Calle 16 de septembre; turn west on Ramos Arizpe. Wiggle through the narrow streets of the town. Watch out for the speed bump in front of Tonita’s candy shop. Pause a moment to appreciate the new bridge over the second arroyo. We are especially thankful that it is finished. Pass through the Perote gate and ask for the gringos from Alaska. You will find us at the big table under the pecan tree.

Even if you can’t make it in person, you will be with us in spirit - in our memories, our thoughts, and our best wishes for a beautiful day of thanksgiving for you and your family.

Until next time, I am affectionately yours,