Sunday, August 26, 2012

La Vendimia 2012 - Friday through Monday

Friday was another day of relentless sunshine.  We passed on the parade, the blessing of the grapes, and the horse races concentrating instead on the lamb feast and theatre production at Hacienda Marquez. 
Any time Ferdi cooks lamb, you know it’s going to be good and this was no exception.  

After lunch, a theatrical group performed a series of dramatic interpretations of the legends of the region, “Las Leyendas de la Laguna.”  It was very well done, but difficult for almost all of us to follow. 

Not to worry!  We had a grand time making our own fun!

Back to the house for a quick siesta, and then off to Nacho’s 50th Birthday Celebration.  For entertainment there was a woman with a beautiful singing voice and a comedian who had the guests rolling in the aisles, but the highlight of the evening was Ale’s paella.  I had never seen paella cooked on the grill, and I had never seen that much paella at one time.  I believe it was a first for most of the guests.  She did a great job!  I think I’ll have her cook my birthday dinner when I turn 50.

Happy Birthday, Nacho!

Saturday morning, everyone was up early.  We picked a little Cabernet and a little Zinfandel to add to the fermenting tanks and then it was time to get ready for our big event: the second vendimia of Alianza, the alliance between Las Pudencianas and Hecho a Mano. 

About 250 primos and amigos came to the celebration.  What a beautiful setting.
Guests found their way across the yard by following a trail of potted flowers.  In the shade of pecan trees, tables were set complete with open wine bottles ready for sampling.
More people than expected?  Just bring in more tables!

If Stanley was the sort of person to let compliments go to his head, he would have been in trouble Saturday afternoon.  His wine got rave reviews.  There is no other way to put it:  the wine is fabulous!  And it’s all his doing!

Eduardo had insisted we participate in welcoming the guests which meant I would have to give a short speech.  Chances of Stanley doing that were slim to none.  Thankfully, I had help from Valeria and the speech (my first attempt at anything like that in Spanish) was a success.  I must say I was glad when it was over. 

The rest of the afternoon went by in a buzz of congratulations, good wishes, and folks telling us how glad they were we had come to Parras.  Even the most cynical person in the world would have to admit it was heart-warming. 

As he did last year, Eduardo organized a great party.  He has a way of making everyone feel welcome and comfortable.

In addition to a grand Mexican buffet, he brought a musical group 
from Mexico City, and an outstanding group of local Matachines.
The queen of the fair came with Baco to welcome everyone.   Unfortunately, our Baco has not reformed.  He is still carrying a can of Tecate in the pocket of his robe.  This year's queen did not drink anything at all.

We had made the decision to honor Chano Garcia who passed away in February of this year.  Chano had worked at barrel making and wood burning all his life.  He had made signs for most of the businesses in Parras and barrels for almost everyone involved in wine making.  Eduardo composed a very touching tribute to him and then two of Chano’s granddaughters entertained us with mariachi  songs.  They were truly good!

It was an incredible day that I will remember for a long, long time.
Here are some of my favorite shots!

Love the hat, Eva!

Cooling down the wine

The little store . . . Wonder if the girls made any money?

Thanks for the apron, Judi.  

Preparations for dinner

David, Magali, and Stanley

Louis and Jo

Rori and Judi

The Bird!

Jim, Louis, Stanley, ME

Estela, Baco, Gloria

ME and Estela

ME, Estela, Gloria, Maria, Donna, Jo, David, and a bit of Dennis.

Eva giving dance lessons
On Sunday morning, we were up early to make a pot of coffee to share with the David, Donna, Jo, and Louis.  They were to be on the 7:00AM bus to Monterrey.  

Since we were already up, we went straight to the vineyard.  By 2:00 Sunday afternoon, all that was left in the vineyard were a few Zinfandel stragglers;  the crusher was cleaned, and everyone was ready for siesta.   

Later, Ton and Eva came to have a glass of wine and visit.  Lovely people!  That evening we all went to the bat cave.  I'm always amazed by the number of bats that come flying out every night.

and then to LaCasona, the local steak house.  It was another feast. 

On Monday we took Judi and Dennis to the Santa Madero Chapel.  They climbed the hill to visit the church while Stanley and I did a few errands.  

Back at the hacienda, we made a list of everything we would need for Jim’s electrical job.  Everyone except Stanley loaded up and we went to town to buy supplies and groceries.   

That afternoon, Jim and Stanley installed the wiring for lights on the swing; we washed all the grape picking boxes; put them and the crusher away (a monster job); and did our best to transform the backyard from a grape-crushing site to a party venue.  All in all, it was a good day’s work. 

Party Time Again!  Stanley had the sparkling wine and the flutes chilled to perfection.  Everyone was ready with the anniversary toast, and what do you know?????  We couldn’t get the cork out of the bottle.  Finally, after an agonizing battle with the wretched thing, it came out with a healthy pop and we were ready to celebrate.  

Jim grilled chicken, I made salad and Rori and Judi put together a big bowl of sliced mango and took care of organizing everything.  Antonio and David joined the group and Allen, a friend we hadn’t seen for several years, dropped in to say hello and stayed for sparkling wine.

Here’s what we were celebrating: 
Ten years of a great marriage.  We tell each other often that these years together have been the best of our lives.  You can’t beat a deal like that!

Our second year of Alianza.

Six years at Hacienda Perote.

Our best harvest to date, some excellent wine already bottled and more in the barrel.

Wonderful friends.

And the prospect of great adventures still to come.

Like Christmas, La Feria de la Uva comes on the same day every year.  On August 9th, the eve of San Lorenzo’s feast day, we celebrate at Casa Madero.  That starts us off!  For the next several days, we party hard, work with a scary intensity, and count our blessings.  We'd love to share it with all of you.  Start making your plans now to join us for our third vendimia celebration 2013.