In my personal Bible readings this morning, I was surprised to have two of the three readings be about the blessing of vineyards. The first was from Isaiah 5:
Let me sing for my beloved my love concerning his vineyard: my beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines . . .
When the Bible wants to talk about blessing, it often uses the imagery of vineyards. It's not hard to see why. They are such places of beauty, and the product they create is so wonderful.
The picture above is my son, Paul, with his daughter, Zoe, standing down by the river trail in Eugene, where we met for a picnic dinner. There are miles and miles of bike and walking trails along the river in Eugene, and stretching all the way to Springfield. What amazing planning on the part of the people of this place to keep all of that land for public enjoyment.
We've had the chance to visit a number of vineyards in the Eugene area, and they are so beautiful! A ten to twenty minute drive out of town takes you up into the hills and onto some wonderful wine estates. Enjoying that beauty is a large part of wine tasting for me. Often times before I enter to winery to taste, I will walk around the vineyard a bit and just try to take it all in, and enjoy the view.
Another wonderful part of wine tasting is to meet the creative personalities who work there. The woman pictured above was our host at Silvan Ridge Winery. Her name is Kathy, and she is amazing at handling multiple tasting groups and keeping them all organized and in line. That's not surprising when you learn that she was an award winning track coach in Eugene. You can tell from the very first glance that she is a runner. I loved her personality from the very start. "If you're grouchy, you don't get to taste the reserve tasting. I don't put up with grouchy!" She announced as we walked up to the tasting area. I ask if sarcasm is included in that, because if it is, I'll never make it through!
When Kathy learns that we own a wine shop she brings us into the back room for a barrel tasting of a single vineyard Pinot Noir that is getting close to being ready to be bottled. I'm not much good at predicting how good a wine will taste based on barrel samples, but this one seems great to me. We also get to taste the '08 Merlot, the '09 Malbec, and '06 Cabernet. We purchased two of the cabs, because I know Kathy in our shop is going to love this wine.
Silvan purchased the vineyards from Doyle Hinman who was also a teacher. He planted some of the first vines in this part of the valley, and their specialty, of all things, is a sparkling Muscat. I know a young woman in Montana who was recently engaged who I think will love this wine. We're going to bring a few bottles of this wine with us on our upcoming trip out east to help her celebrate.
That's right, I've started sabbatical, I've celebrated the birth of our first grandchild, and now our daughter, Noel, is engage to be married. It's almost too much blessing to take in at one time. Sometimes blessings just stack up all at the same time, and strangely enough it can make us nervous. I often times tell people that just because the last few things that have happened have been good does not automatically mean that the next one will be bad. Sometimes God just pours it on. And according to my readings this morning, what God expects of us when we have been showered with blessings is to be thankful. I am--thankful that our children are beginning their adult lives, thankful for new life, thankful for this blessed place where we live, and thankful for really, really good wines to enjoy.