Here’s the Thing: Like a fine wine …

We just got back from our mini-getaway. We weren’t gone very long, because my husband works a demanding full time job and I’m just a mom. He got a day to recuperate, but I immediately got phone calls demanding my schedule or reminding me of my schedule (dentist, check!), put away our personal belongings, sorted the gifts for our friends, made birthday party favors, went through a million school newsletters so I didn’t miss anything important, and after mentally wrapping my head around being back in Alaska, had a minor nervous breakdown. Typical “you’re home — welcome to reality” realization. But you know, I’m just a mom. So after my husband heard me wailing in the privacy of our master bathroom, he was kind enough to go get everything on my grocery list which helped me relax (and gave me a chance to finish making party favors). He is good to me.

Let’s go back a little ways. My husband and I entered 10 years of marriage last week. It was already exciting for me to hit double digits, but he wanted to celebrate this anniversary in a big way. After years of Dairy Queen, lovely dinners, and maybe a weekend in Anchorage, my expectations weren’t too high. Although I did most of the booking and planning, it unfolded very nicely. We went to Sonoma County, California! Also known as “wine country.” We were encircled by viticulture reaching from Napa Valley to Dry Creek Valley to Chalk Hill. The climate and soil for those areas are very kind to grapes, so it was thrilling to see the long standing, gnarled vines of each area.

Although I’m sure that Napa is a very nice place, we did not venture over. I realize to most people that sounds like a crime, but once you learn more about the areas, you can decide which style suits you best. If the American Viticulture Area (AVA) stamp of approval is on a wine label, it means that 85 percent of the grapes used in the wine were grown in that specified area by their standards. AVA vineyards use grapes from their own area so you know it meets their distinctive rules, it’s authentic, and fresh off the vineyard! You pretty much can’t go wrong in the Northern California.

We chose to venture around coastal and northern Sonoma. That area had our favorite kind of scenery, was rustic, charming, and on the smaller side. You can get a closeup view as they work on their craft. In Napa the wineries seem more modern, elegant, and for a real first-class connoisseur! They are a birthplace of the culture in that area, so there is a chronicle of history at every bend. Someday we will go back and experience this area as older folks. But for now, I’m just like, can I get it on tap? Ofcourse, you can’t put any winery in a box, there are all kinds spread about. That was just my quick, overall impression.

Every vineyard reminded me of the small business entrepreneur spirit that is familiar with our own Alaskan roots. Hard work from start to finish. Creating something out of practically nothing, then watching it succeed. The consumer sees beautiful vineyards, cute gift shop, and the never ending storage room of oak barrels. The owners see to cleaning the giant hoppers, praying their crops avoid mildew, and have creative control over their blends of wines. It’s a such an innovative process from start to finish and takes an intelligent visionary to produce great quality.

It was our 10-year anniversary, and I can say marriage is a lot like that. You have to work hard, be smart, and innovative. You have to learn the characteristics of your spouse and learn how to make them stronger to help them grow. People joke about being a fine wine, the older you get the more mature and distinct flavors you might have.

I think of my husband and I like two different kinds of grapes. When we got married, we turned from fruit into a new wine blend. After a while we’ve been crushed, fermented, and get better with time. That wasn’t always true. I would say after having our second kid the pressure from being squeezed (metaphorically) was almost unbearable at times. Making it out on the other side is more than an accomplishment. It’s a joy.

Here’s the thing: Going from sipping flights of wine to a busy schedule, holidays, and family chaos will be OK. I have a partner that enjoys life with me and supports life with me. Most important, I have a Creator that’s been known to turn water into wine. The past couple weeks I’ve been learning about that process. Married or not, that’s what life’s about, right? The process.

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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